Silk Hospitality was created by former Deloitte Consulting executive Matthew Knee and his family two years ago and is now Australia’s fastest growing outsourced housekeeping provider solely focused on the accommodation industry. Knee’s father had established and later sold the company that currently dominates the industry. Twenty years on and with a fresh perspective they saw an industry in desperate need of competition and an opportunity to apply advanced software systems to revolutionise the way that hotels were serviced by outsourced operators.
For Knee, he knew that introducing cloud computing technology to the industry could provide a true competitive advantage. As a former strategy and operations manager with Deloitte, Knee was interested in how companies could disrupt existing industries by deploying innovative techniques and new processes.
“Hotels typically engage in outsourcing to shift risk away from their organisation,” Knee said. “We represent a revolution in outsourcing by taking a whole new approach to the way hotel housekeeping operations are run, training and quality management systems are implemented, and the way in which the workforce is managed.”
Knee said hotels simply don’t have the flexibility to develop such as a specialised set of workforce management, training, reporting and quality management systems, and he set about carving a powerful niche that would make his offer compelling. Silk Hospitality has now secured contracts with a number of leading hotels across Australia. Silk is also a one hundred percent cloud business and believes technology can make the difference.
“Our entire business is cloud-based and we don’t own a computer server,” Knee said. That has enabled Silk to invest in its own cloud information dashboard that tracks all of the tasks, and operational activity at a client site. Every staff member has access to the dashboard, as do the hotel management. That allows everyone to know what’s going on.
Knee wanted to apply the cloud to every part of Silk, and when he saw the Deputy platform in action, signed up immediately. He saw the opportunity to streamline rostering, scheduling, timesheet management, and have better visibility over staff costs.
“I could tell that Deputy was a true cloud-based product and its features ticked every single box,” Knee said. “The power of the Deputy system is that it understands the business of managing people.”
The Deputy platform also allows Knee to have better control over the entire business, which covers a vast array of services to hotels, suchas fully outsourced housekeeping, laundry and linen management, public area cleaning, turndown services, portering and guest services. For hotel managers, and those managing staff, it can be incredibly complex to ensure staff are efficiently allocated to schedules, routines and rosters.
“We have supervisors managing their own rosters, and a distributed workforce that is spread over a number of locations,” Knee said. “That is a challenge for management, but Deputy makes it easier for the managers and supervisors to track staff and allocate schedules efficiently.”
Knee said he also recognises that in order to be successful, businesses have to be expert communicators. He said the beauty of the Deputy system is that it makes communication between supervisors and staff extremely efficient and eliminates the blame culture that exists in many organisations.
“The back-office management of our business is important, but we also recognise that a major pain point is achieving great communication,” Knee said. “These days its all about creating a great culture, and reducing stress and angst in the workforce. Our system and the Deputy platform enables us to get everyone aligned to the tasks at hand.”
Deputy also saves time for Silk by enabling the quick exporting of staff timesheets to the Xero online accounting system. Knee said this feature alone has eliminated three days per month of staff administration time.
“We invest heavily in technology so Deputy plays heavily into our strategy,” Knee said. “Their technology complements our own systems and allows us to be efficient and in charge of our operations.”