The secret to a profitable laundry business

19442137_475836746083268_1201733967700342937_o

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

waldemar-brandt-1338489-unsplash.jpg

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.

7 trends shaping commercial laundry in the Philippines in 2019

hotel-linen-and-laundry

Big laundry operation. Image from Gulfnews.com

The commercial laundry industry in the Philippines over the last few years has grown immensely. Self-service laundry shops have mushroomed within our neighborhood, while big laundry companies have benefited from hotels and restaurants increasingly outsourcing their laundry operations. The laundry care business alone (fabric softener, bleach and detergents) grew by 9% to a PhP52 billion industry in 2017, according to Euromonitor International.

Here are the trends that will drive the sector this year:

 

1. New equipment that do more with less

With barely 4 in every 10 households owning a washing machine (according to Euromonitor for 2017), it’s no wonder why commercial laundry is popular. Urban dwellers not only wish to avoid paying so much for a washing machine, but they’re also looking for the convenience offered by commercial laundry — quick and quality wash.

New equipment for commercial laundry today provide sophisticated moisture content capacity and energy, labor and production efficiency. This is particularly important for big laundry companies where cost savings are critical. New equipment are also faster in washing and require less water and heat. Make sure to check these features the next time you invest in an equipment.

 

2. Water will be more valuable

Cost of good water — an essential ingredient to good laundry — has risen. Whereas laundry shops will find cheap water from deep well, hard water and water with iron, these actually harm linen more than they make them fresh anew.

With rising costs of utilities and fuel, companies are looking for practical ways and technologies that will result to cost savings, especially on water. These range from sophisticated innovations such as recycling of water to simple and practical methods such as rainwater harvesting.

 

3. Environmental compliance will be a growing issue

With the rehabilitation of Boracay and Manila Bay, laundry businesses will be looking more at environmental compliance. A pressing question among commercial laundry players today is investing on waste water treatment, which doesn’t come cheap.

Big laundry companies will also be concerned about Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD). BOD and COD should pass government regulations, otherwise there are heavy penalties for violators. The DENR also now prohibits phosphate content in waste water, thus affecting the type of chemicals laundry shops will purchase.

 

4. Less dependence on chemicals

Like how laundry technology is trying to make use of less water, it is also moving towards efficient utilization of chemicals (preferably, zero phosphate as well). This makes the resulting waste water more environment-friendly and easier to recycle.

 

5. Outsourcing laundry — and linen — will continue

Laundry in the hotel industry is a sizable operation, employing dozens of staff and incurring maintenance cost for various equipment. Recently, a number of hotels have closed their in-house laundry operations and resorted to outsourcing of even linen (to save storage cost and maximize their real estate). This will definitely continue as hospitality companies focus on their core strength (service) while outsourcing non-essential processes such as laundry operations to specialist companies.

READ NEXT: Hotel laundry: outsource or in-house?

6. Higher standards of quality

As the number of commercial laundry players increase, customers — whether retail or institutional — will look for service providers that can deliver the best quality wash and prolong linen life. Not many companies use quality management tools such as Total Quality Management (TQM), Total Plant Maintenance (TPM) and whiteness test in the commercial laundry business to ensure best-in-class services are provided. These tools will become more important to satisfy the requirements of institutions and the public.

 

7. Data analytics in laundry

Not many companies and laundry shops today collect metrics on the performance of their business and laundry operations. As competition grows, data analytics will certainly help them survive. What is the production vis-a-vis capacity? What is the peso per kilo wash load? What are the monitoring systems in place?

I have always thought laundry is an efficiency game. After collating information, we can use the Ishikawa principle or fish-bone analysis to answer important questions.

For questions, email me at rhapolega@yahoo.com or editor@isitcleanph.com