QA on the Road by Adela Crandell Durkee

I stopped in Effingham, IL on my way to Nashville.  Have you heard of Effingham?  I hadn’t.  It’s a smallish town, about halfway between Chicago and Nashville; where Interstates 57 and 70 meet.

My family traveled there on our way to a beautiful fall wedding in Nashville.  Our niece got married that weekend.

The signs in the Hampton Inn and Suites elevators took me by surprise.  Yes, the sheets and duvet covers were the whitest-white.  Yes, the sheets were clean and fresh smelling, without being perfumey.  But what’s up with a sticky note on the bed, and these signs in the elevator?

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I had to find out more. I had to stop and talk to the woman in charge.

Carrie Ragle is the Assistant Manager of Housekeeping.  She’s been with Hampton Inn and Suites since it opened in January.  Before that, she worked as a waitress at a nearby Denny’s restaurant.

Carrie doesn’t use statistical analysis or process mapping.  What she does is adhere to W, Edwards Deming’s number one point for “Transformation of Western Management”:  Constancy of Purpose.  She pays attention to the details, and puts the customer first.

The 800 thread count sheets get purchased from a Hampton approved supplier.  Consistency of quality starts there and continues through the housekeeping and laundry process.

First, when the housekeepers change the beds, they tie stains with a rubber band, which acts as a flag in Laundry.  Stains get soaked in a Dawn Dish soap, Tide Stain Remover, and Bleach concoction.  Next, the sheets are laundered in Tide and followed with Downy fabric softener.  Clara inspects all of the sheets before she turns them over to Housekeeping.  Laundry discards any sheets with resistant stains.

Carrie likes working on her own:  she checks the rooms and makes sure all the work gets done.  She likes her manager, Suzy, who trains her to take on new responsibilities, as she is ready.  Carrie looks forward to learning how to place orders and manage employees’ schedules.

.Although Carrie misses some her customers at Denny’s, she applied for a position at Hampton because after four years at Denny’s, she lost respect the management team.

After just a few months at the Hampton Inn and Suites, Carrie got a promotion from housekeeper to Assistant Manager.  How did she get promoted so quickly?

“I  asked.  That’s all it took.”

I have a suspicion her work ethic had a lot to do with her promotion.

Carrie dropped out of high school because it stopped being fun and relevant.  When Carrie turned 25, she talked her mother into being her study partner.  Together, they both earned their GED.  Today Carrie appreciates the value of a good education.  She lives in Altamont, IL, because it has a great school system.  She wants her 7 year-old daughter to start out with a strong educational background.

Sometimes we, Quality Professionals can overlook the importance of the quality that everyday people put into their work.  When it comes down to it, “It’s all about the people.”  I like to stop a moment and talk to the individuals who provide quality services.  Some of the most quality focused people, never went to college.  Some even dropped out of high school.  It doesn’t take an advanced degree to understand the principles of quality.  It just takes constancy of focus.

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Carrie Ragle

Oh and about those elevator signs:  Carrie just sighed.  “Yeah, I don’t quite understand it either.”

Still, I sure liked climbing between those fresh, whiter-than-white sheets.  I know that the people that made my stay so comfortable, really cared.

We stopped in Effington on the way back from Nashville, too.  Of course, we stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites.

Plus, when I got home, I checked out Hampton Home Collection.  I can purchase the same quality sheets and enjoy the same quality right at home.  Now, if I can only get Carrie and her staff to clean for me.

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