As a company that markets and manages bookings of some of the most top-rated luxury holiday villa rentals in Phuket, The Luxury Signature (TLS) makes sure that we have the best allies in all aspects of the business. And in terms of human resources and villa management, KMM Services (KMM) is among the leading service providers on the island as per TLS standard.
For many years, KMM has been matching many of our exceptional properties with a professional staff of the same caliber, including villa managers and chefs.
For our guests and owners to get better insights about them, TLS sat down with Michael and Kat Marchbanks, the American-Thai couple who founded KMM.
TLS: Can you tell us briefly of KMM’s process in sourcing the villa staff?
KMM: Over the years, we have developed a reputation for being one of the best employers on the island. We have a lot of people who are working in 5 and 6-star hotels contacting us, interested to work for us.
There is a network of people in this industry in Phuket, and we think within that community, KMM has been known as a good place to work. In fact, it has been a long time since we’ve had to place an ad because of this network.
Read our article about the staff involved in a luxury villa rental operation.
TLS: What type of training does the staff undergo?
Our training is multi-level. Aside from the one-on-one training given by the villa managers and operations managers, we also conduct standard training modules such as meal service training, beverage training, how to set up a bedroom according to the standards of TLS and KMM. And we keep a record of who among our people have gone through these training modules.
We have recently developed a very thorough set of standard operating procedures which we published to all the staff.
TLS: How does KMM manage to maintain the villas in such perfect conditions given the frequent bookings, and sometimes, brief time in between bookings?
KMM: We ‘turn the villa around’, flip it. (laughs)
We need to work as a team. Sometimes, a guest checks out at 12 noon, the next one checks in at 3 PM. And in a big villa, like Villa Sawarin for example, we would need to source two extra staff within the same zone who are not on duty that day, to do part-time work and help out in the villa. We have very hard working people. Sometimes even if it’s their day off, they would ask if there is a part-time job available so they can earn extra.
After each booking, that’s the time for the staff to go on leave. But part of our standard procedures is that before they leave, the villa must be clean and set up as if a guest is coming tomorrow because… well, we never know!
Being in a tropical climate, exposed to the sun, salt, these villas also require a lot of maintenance. We have a program wherein once a quarter, a team will do a detailed inspection of every corner of every room and every outside area of the villa. In a big villa, it could be a 20-page inspection report. We make an action plan based on the report. And with the approval of the owner, we make sure everything gets done in between bookings.
We have a professional pool service team too which we recommend to the villa owners. For those villas that don’t have a full-time handyman, we also have a villa maintenance service who can perform minor repairs.
TLS: KMM also recommends and make reservations on behalf of the guests to the best offerings on the island including private tours, restaurants, clubs, yachts, etc. What is your process of sourcing the best providers?
KMM: We have a Concierge Team who has, over the years, sorted through and researched for the best providers in these areas. Of the many yacht brokers, the many van and driver services, we have narrowed them down to the two, three best. The massage providers on the villas, we personally tested and selected reliable professional massage therapists for each villa in each different zone.
Over the years we have been in business we have narrowed down our selection to the most reliable and the best. And we continue to evolve that list. If a provider begins to fall below standards, we replace them. If there’s a new provider who becomes available, we test them.
Our Concierge Team goes on inspection tours. Last week they were on a boat trip, and now we are trying to schedule a trip on another boat. Before we recommend them to our guests, we want to make sure that they are up to standards.
TLS: How does KMM maintain such high standards of service?
KMM: We encourage our staff to be flexible. As I said, we are not tied to our standard operating procedures – those are guidelines – but we expect people to use their experience and common sense to find a way to say yes.
The other part is the feedback that we get from our partners, especially TLS. It’s not just about keeping the standards, it’s also about getting better through listening to what the guests say.
Getting good reviews have also become a friendly competition amongst the villa staff. Whenever a villa receives a good review, the other villas will try to get better ones. It’s a very friendly, healthy competition.
TLS: A lot of our guests fall in love with the food prepared by our villa chefs. How does KMM find such culinary talents?
KMM: When we select from the applications, we need to have a food tasting. We look at how fast they can prepare the food, how well is the presentation, and of course, how good it tastes.
It takes time to really find the right chef. Sometimes we will assign a chef to a temporary post in a villa which is another way to audition them, especially when the full-time chef is away. With this, we can evaluate the feedback, not just from the guests, but also from the rest of the team.
We also have training for the chefs. We have many villas, one chef may be good in Italian cuisine, one is good in Japanese, and another may be good in Thai dishes. So we rotate them so they can teach each other.
Villa Sawarin and Villa Aquila are like the university for our chefs, and also for the other staff. Whenever these villas host events, we send chefs from other villas who we think can use the extra training. We never stop training and mostly it is very successful, especially when a staff trains another staff.
When one chef or a team does something they’re proud of, they post it on the online groups and they try to outdo each other. It’s a healthy competition. They have fun too. At the same time, they get better and better.
Read our article about serving food at a private villa.
TLS: You have been working with many of our villa owners over the years. Tell us more about your relationship with them.
KMM: We have a good relationship with the owners. There are a couple of layers to that. Primarily, the first, second, and third are good open communication. When it comes to financial reporting, we make sure that within the first week of every month they get a very clear, detailed report of everything we spent in the villa the previous month.
Transparent accounting: We make sure to keep the owners up to date with all the maintenance issues – sending them quotes, asking approval, sending them pictures, sending the quarterly inspection plan, updated action plans, and keeping the maintenance history.
More about KMM Services
KMM Services Co. Ltd. is a villa and villa estate management company in Phuket, offering a wide range of services including manpower services, villa maintenance, expense management, and concierge.
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +66 (0) 76.318.278