Why your laundry failed: 7 signs to tell your laundry business is headed south

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Romy Apolega

The laundry industry is definitely booming. But while everyone is excited to open a new laundromat or try the new service provider in the neighborhood, laundry operations (at a profit) can be quite tricky.

Over the last 46 years in the Philippines’ cleaning and laundry industry, I have seen many businesses cease and hotels/hospitals/companies close down their on-premise laundry after failing to sustain operations. Their solution is often to outsource to cut back on cost. But as someone who came from both service provider (plant manager of one of the biggest laundry service providers in the country) and on-premise laundry (consultant for hotel, hospital and manufacturing OPLs) – I would say that it boils down to understanding the laundry process, maintaining quality (read: Total Quality Management) and knowing the signs before your laundry fails.

I list below 7 general symptoms that require your attention.

 

  1. A lot re-wash

Managers and executives in hotels, hospitals and companies that require laundry services do not often realize the huge impact of re-wash on cost. Re-wash repeats the entire laundry process due to failure in providing quality results. The normal re-wash rate is 2% to 3% daily. If you’re beyond this, your utility costs double as you have to repeat the same process for the same items. In laundry, doing it right the first time is crucial.

 

  1. Excessive cost

There are cost-related events that cannot be controlled such as rising power and water costs and force majeures. But in general, when costs rise faster than the rate of production, it is important to check what inefficiencies and challenges exist. Are these utilities? Can manpower be streamlined?

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  1. Machine failure

A machine that doesn’t run efficiently (or one that breaks down) is lost opportunity for the business to earn. One of the worst things that can happen is a flatwork ironer breakdown, which can spell chaos for the laundry staff.

 

  1. Delays in delivery

For commercial laundry companies, failure to deliver on-time can break their client’s business – especially if the customer is a hotel with very few linen par stcck. Systematic delays are a cause of concern for the service provider.

 

  1. Damages, losses and mix up

One by one, your linen inventory decreases due to pilferage, or perhaps your linen’s life shortens due to bad wash, resulting to degradation. Bad wash and incorrect usage can negatively affect lifespan – for instance, using guest towels to scrub areas in the bathroom where strong chemicals are applied will eventually damage the linen.

 

  1. Graying of whites

Gradually, your linen loses its white luster and fails to meet the whiteness test.

 

  1. Customer complaints

The most obvious sign that something is wrong is via customer feedback – especially from loyal clients. For hotels, failing laundry services (whether OPL or outsourced) often lead to delays in releasing a hotel room (e.g. housekeeping doesn’t have fresh linen to replenish) or smell and stains on the towel (need for re-wash).

Are you encountering any of these signs? Consult with Romy Apolega through rhapolega@yahoo.com. Follow Is It Clean on Facebook and LinkedIn for more updates on the laundry business.

READ NEXT: Hotel Laundry: Outsourcing vs On-Premise Laundry

The secret to a profitable laundry business

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Romy Apolega: rhapolega@yahoo.com

In my 46 years of experience as a Chemical Engineer in the cleaning and laundry industry, I have always been a strong believer of quality. If you can consistently provide services and products of good quality that make your customers happy (without losing money), then you’ve built a good business model.

There is an art and science to this case called Total Quality Management (TQM). TQM is a management philosophy that looks at a company as a collection of processes (marketing, sales, operations, production, finance, etc.) whose ultimate goal is to meet customer needs and the organization’s objectives.

Sadly, TQM is rarely used used in the industry.

Whether you’re an in-house launderer (hotel, restaurant, power plant, manufacturing, etc.) or an external service provider, it’s important to realize the benefits of adopting this business philosophy.

Here are some reasons why:

1. TQM is about Customer Satisfaction

TQM’s goal is to consistently meet customer needs. All functions of the business must converge and lead to this outcome.

In our industry, this compels launderers to provide services that meet these requirements:

  • Timeliness

  • Completeness

  • Whiteness

It’s not just the cleanliness of the items, but also the service that should be examined:

  • Laundry items should be delivered, properly folded (no crumpling) or hung

  • Reconciliation on losses, shortages, damages and mix-ups with the customers should also be cleared

  • Small damages and tears must be mended

  • In case of overage, these must be reported and returned

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Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

READ: 7 Considerations Before Opening Your First Laundry

2. TQM puts emphasis on Continuous Process Improvement

No laundry is perfect, but you’re at least expected to learn and enhance your laundry business’ functions to deliver more superior services and products.

TQM puts emphasis on Continuous Process Improvement. It’s the way companies make an ongoing effort to improve, either incrementally over time or via breakthrough projects at once.

Laundry companies should have “Quality Circles” — an internal group that meets regularly to discuss and improve processes and production in the company.

Quality points should be identified and are functioning. Identification of the process from pick up to delivery

Management also need to regularly revisit the company’s mission and vision. SWOT will be a practical instrument to assess and improve.

3. In TQM, everyone is involved

The top management to the line person are involved in total quality. This means that to maintain competitive advantage, members of the organization must receive regular training.

TQM is not itself a competitive advantage, but it is a tool that can lead your laundry business to differentiate yourself from competition. For laundry businesses, the concluding quality question in every TQM initiative is, “Is it really clean?”

READ NEXT: 3 common headaches in commercial laundry (and how to fix them)

If you want to know more about TQM in laundry, email me at rhapolega@yahoo.com or editor@isitcleanph.com. Follow my Facebook page and LinkedIn page for more updates on the laundry business.