Kaizen is a business concept originating from Japan, which can be roughly characterized as “continuous improvement”. At the basis of Kaizen lies the idea that all business processes and practices have to improve all the time at all levels, and everybody, from the top CEO to the lowliest assembly worker, is responsible for taking part in it. The idea is not so much to introduce new revolutionary practices and ideas but to perfect standardized processes to minimize waste and make them go as smooth as possible.
Traditionally, kaizen is associated with manufacturing – it became famous through its application by Toyota after WWII, which allowed it to achieve dominance in the automotive industry market. At a glance, it may be difficult to think about how it can be applied in the hotel industry – but complicated does not mean impossible. So let’s get started!
1. Deep Analysis of All Areas That Can Be Improved
If you do not know how things are going, you cannot change them for the better. A deep SWOT analysis to evaluate the existing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to your business will show you the bigger picture. Instead of having vague ideas as to what and how you can improve about your hotel, you will get a clear and definite report to guide you further: what is already done right but can be done better, what areas are particularly weak and need focus, what is downright dangerous for the continuous prosperity of your business.
2. Looking for Ways to Reduce Maintenance and Utility Costs
To improve its bottom line, a hotel business can try increasing prices to earn more of each client – and it can even occasionally work, especially during hot seasons when prices are higher across the board, and clients are readier to spend. However, due to the high price elasticity in the hospitality business, this approach is hard to recommend. Incremental decrease of maintenance and utility costs is probably a less fascinating, but a more stable and reliable approach to this problem – and it is in full accordance with kaizen. Regular maintenance and strictly upheld operation standards may look like a hassle in the short term, but they can significantly decrease the costs by preventing breakdowns and avoiding costly repairs, which means that it should become your company’s primary principle hammered into the head of every employee.
3. Engaging Employees
Employees encounter problems your hotel deals with daily, and they have the best idea of what should be first in the queue for improvement and how this improvement should be carried out. By engaging them, asking for their opinions and advice, you not just get valuable insights into how you can enhance the quality of your service, but also create the sense of agency and participation. Employees who know that their opinions are valued feel more responsible and interested in the overall prosperity of your business. They do better at their jobs and are less likely to leave.
4. Prioritizing Issues with Highest Impact
Keep a list of all the problems your business is currently dealing with and sort them from the most to the least important. It is natural to prioritize the improvements that are likely to make the most significant impact and motivate your employees to focus on them as well; however, do not neglect opportunities to make any improvement, even if it looks slight and unimportant right now. Gradual and incremental improvements, when carried out consistently, tend to add up – and it is exactly what kaizen is all about.
5. Continuous Testing
The initial analysis gives you quantitative information to deal with – after all, you cannot improve a metric until you gauge it. However, you should be just as attentive to keeping an eye on these metrics as you go along because the feeling that things are getting better is not enough. You should know that your changes are bringing results – and doing so, you have to constantly measure how your business operates and compare the results with previous periods.
Although we are all used to thinking about kaizen in relation to the manufacturing industry, now is time to modify our thinking. There is no business that cannot benefit from applying this philosophy – and hospitality is no exception.