By Kerry Drager
Brenda Baum of Sauk Centre was honored with the AmericInn Employee of the Year in the Housekeeping/Room Attendant category award this year. Brenda has been with the company for 12 years. She moved up to the full-time Head Housekeeper position in 2002.
The award can be won by any housekeeping employee of AmericInn’s 200 locations. Two other candidates were up for the award, but Baum was selected due to her outstanding customer service and commitment to her important role in hospitality.
“This honor represents an extraordinary national achievement in delivering the highest level of service to our customers,” said president and CEO of AmericInn Paul Kirwin. “We celebrate her dedicated efforts that bring to life the hospitality promise of the AmericInn brand.”
Baum is thankful for the recognition from her company, but she does not feel that she has done anything extraordinary and is not successful alone.
“It felt good to be recognized for what I’m doing and knowing that the top people appreciate me, but I’m just doing what they expect out of me,” said Baum. “I feel like anybody could have earned the award, and I couldn’t have done this without my team. I have a great staff; they do so well on the rooms and that makes my job easier. I feel like I’m getting all of the credit, and I think that the rest of the team needs credit, too.”
It is this commitment and fairness to her staff that has helped earn her the award. She strives to keep her staff informed and supported. Her expectations are consistent and to company standards. If a mistake is made, staff is shown the right way and is given an opportunity to make the corrections.
“The best thing about this job is hearing our guests say that we’ve got a very clean hotel. That’s what I like to hear. That’s my goal, to keep our rooms up to par. I don’t like hearing complaints.”
Baum has played a large role in developing skills in her staff, but the role has also helped herself grow. The need for responsibility and assertiveness has opened up this once reserved woman.
“I enjoy being responsible, accurate and caring. I tell my team to be responsible for all your actions. Use ‘thank you’ and ‘may I help you’ and to be aware of what you’re saying and doing. When I train staff in, I tell them that you’ve got to be accurate before we move you to the next level.”
A team that works as well as Baum’s has allowed her to play a part in other business and community needs. Her branch participates in a soap bar collection program. Housekeepers collect the unused portions of soap bars and send them into a company to be melted down and turned into new soap. Baum has also donated old bedding to local programs that make quilts.
“I hate throwing stuff away. I’d rather have someone take it off our hands and reuse it,” said Baum.
Before she became a housekeeper, Baum worked in retail. The role as head housekeeper has proven to be less stressful and more flexible. She plans on remaining in this role for a very long time.
“The staff is good here. The hours are very flexible, and it’s a laid back atmosphere. We have a lot of fun days where we joke around. We try to have fun while we do our work. There are some stressful days, but we always get through them.”
Aside from her work, Baum enjoys camping with her husband and three children. She enjoys entertaining friends and family in the comfort of her home. She also enjoys the outdoors by going on walks.
From impressing her guests to earning the respect of her superiors, Baum has come a long way for her team, her company and most importantly, for herself. She has helped make a local inn a clean, friendly place to stay.
She encourages others to visit her hometown of Sauk Centre, and that is something the whole community can appreciate.