Image is everything.
The way your business presents itself has a profound impact on your bottom line.
Not only that but today your customers are savvy, plugged-in and social, servicing them isn’t becoming easier.
Providing clean linens to customers and pressed uniforms to employees is just one piece of the puzzle when running a business, the challenge for many businesses is finding the balance between providing exceptional service to customers and employees at the lowest cost.
This raises the question: Does out-sourcing or on-premises laundry processing maximize value?
How Efficient Is Your Business When Dealing With Dirty Laundry?
Outlining the best strategy for dealing with laundry is similar to planning a vacation – you’re likely to have a great time when you know your options, understand the potential pros and cons for each choice and then plan accordingly.
While it may be tempting to treat answering this question as if it was as straightforward as making a left or a right turn like doing laundry in-house or outsourcing it to a laundry service provider, approaching the question from a bird’s eye view allows companies to make more calculated and informed business decisions.
Deciding between in-house or outsourcing will often require crunching numbers to specifically evaluate a company’s position and their needs. However, throughout this white-paper, we explore and expand upon the top factors all companies must consider during the decision-making process from breakdowns of laundry options to service recommendations by industry.
Evaluating Laundry Services: Outsourcing vs. In-House
A critical component to operating any business dealing frequently with uniforms and linens, industries both large and small must plan accordingly for how they deal with laundry.
While some industries and organizations stick to traditional methods such as in-house laundry, while others are opting for new and innovative approaches like outsourcing laundry services.
The following is an in-depth outline for how outsourcing and in-house laundry systems work:
Outsourcing Laundry Services: “One Less Thing to Worry About”
Traditionally, processing laundry for linens and uniforms has long been managed in
house or on-premise laundry (OPL) facilities.
Today, an alternative is outsourcing to laundry services and comes out of consideration for high labor expenses, machinery and material replacement expenditures.
Newer software systems and technology have done more than produce efficient industrial washers for laundry service providers, sophisticated monitoring software allow companies to track a single uniform from the moment it leaves their premises to its freshly laundered return – helping to further lower expenses.
Below are the top benefits to outsourcing laundry services:
- Cost and Energy Efficient: Laundry service providers are able to offer savings due to economies of scale. Their high-volume laundry makes their labor more productive, supports investments in high-end software, technology and equipment, and helps conserve electricity, water and chemicals.
- Save Space: Using the space that would be dedicated to laundry processing for a revenue generator while still receiving quality cleaning services.
- Focus on Core Competency: Removing laundry from an ever-growing long list of administrative tasks for managers and department heads saves time – time that can be spent productively working towards the central goals of the company.
An obvious difference between outsourcing laundry services from investing in on-premise laundry is avoiding the upfront capital costs required to build a laundry facility, install industrial washers, dryers and other laundry machinery as well as hire and train staff.
Further, there are more cost-savings that go unnoticed when outsourcing laundry services like the relative costs to maintaining, repairing and upgrading equipment and managing labor and their training.
Even though contractual agreements may have limiting terms and costs, certain terms may be negotiable on a case per case basis. As well, there is benefit to gain from the typical “pay-as-you-go” model of laundry service agreements.
For example, in industries and organizations that experience seasonal fluctuations, the variable cost of outsourcing laundry services means you only pay for service when needed, instead of paying to always maintain staff regardless of laundry demand.
Investing in In-House Laundry: “More Work, But More Control”
A long-time option and still the primary option for many businesses today is managing their laundry on-premises or in-house, offers a business complete control over the laundry process.
On-premises laundry requires a large upfront investment for building a laundry facility on location as well as purchasing the proper industrial laundry equipment needed.
This option does have the benefit of side-stepping a multi-year agreement with a laundry service provider.
Below are the top benefits of a on-premise laundry:
- Quality and Consistency Control: Investing in building a laundry facility and purchasing proper equipment to manage yourself gives you the control over the consistency of cleaning.
- Always Ready: Large organizations that go through linen and uniforms quickly and need faster turn-around times on their laundry are usually charged delivery fees by laundry service providers. In such cases, having an in-house laundry facility always available may reduce long-term costs.
- Safety: In industries like healthcare where proper laundry processing is mandatory, considering the potential health risks to patients, employees and visitors from exposure to potentially infectious materials and other medical wastes. An in-house laundry gives you the ability to ensure all possible contaminants are properly treated.
Relative to outsourcing laundry services, there is no agreement for on-going laundry services – however, this means businesses are responsible for maintaining, repairing and upgrading equipment and laundry facilities as well as hiring, training and managing labor to operate the on-premise laundry.
Additionally, decision-makers should consider facility costs other than service and repair that are below the “tip of the iceberg,” such as water, fuel and electricity cost per load.
Weighing Your Options: Which Laundry Service Is Ideal For Your Business?
When it comes down to it, to answer which method is ideal, the question must be examined from a long-term and a bird’s eye view perspective.
The answer will invariably involve industry and business specific variables such as company size, needs, ability to upgrade and replace machinery.
Below are top industries requiring laundry and the recommended laundry management methods for each:
Hotels and Hospitality
Traditionally, many businesses in the hospitality industry have used on-premise laundry
believing it’s much more convenient to manage laundry in-house and is priced solely on
the upfront investment in machinery and costs of labor and chemicals.
In truth, the various “below the surface” expenses associated with operating an on-premise laundry are often overlooked and therefore not considered, resulting in costs higher than bargained for.
Expenses like water consumption, energy, maintenance, space, seasonality are often missed when budgeting for laundry processing.
When taking into account the large volume of laundry the hospitality industry produces, such “below the surface” expenses quickly add up over a short period of time – resulting in more and more hotels small and large opting to outsourcing laundry services.
There is of course the advantage of receiving laundry services without the hassle of doing and managing the process in-house. However, the real benefit of this strategy lies in the variable cost and option to request and align services with your business’s demand.
Unlike the healthcare industry where patients are treated continuously and around the clock, hotels encounter seasonal demand fluctuations and having the ability to match business demand to laundry expenses is a near-necessity in an already competitive market.
Food Service Industry and Restaurants
Restaurants and the food services industry introduce several factors that need to be evaluated prior to exploring the question of outsourcing laundry services or managing it on-premises, such as the size and type of restaurant or business, and the image they want to portray.
There are strong arguments for both sides, and thus, businesses should carefully consider both methods and most importantly, arguments against their own position.
On one side, small to medium sized restaurants primary goal is to maximize profits – meaning energy, time and resources spent on in-house laundry processing could be better invested on additional seating to service customers.
On the other end, a five-star restaurant must maintain a five-star image for its staff and business and is just as important as revenue generation. With laundry service agreements extending as long as five years, such high-quality linens and uniforms tend to fade with washing over time, making in-house laundry the ideal method.
Healthcare and Hospitals
Hospitals generate large volumes of materials that need laundering from the various linens used for treating patients to staff lab coats and scrubs.
There is a strong demand for fresh linen daily as there are no days off when it comes to people getting injured and sick.
Traditionally, hospitals opted for in-house laundry processing systems to ensure total control over cleaning and that all processes were in compliant with government regulations like OSHAs Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, many healthcare providers are now finding greater value in outsourcing laundry services.
Many laundry service providers have invested in becoming fully compliant with governmental regulations such as OSHAs Bloodborne Pathogens Standard and are certified to handle and process medical laundry.
This made it possible for many healthcare providers to reap the financial benefits of outsourcing laundry services without the worry of guest or staff cross-contamination.
During a hard day’s work, tough grease and sweat stains accumulate on employees working around an auto-body shop.
While the rags they use to polish cars, wipe down equipment and clean-up spills may be able to handle stains and grease, ensuring stubborn stains are removed from overalls and other garments sets a presentable and professional image for the shop.
Auto-body shops are generally quite small in size and considering the cost of real estate, the space that would be dedicated to an in-house laundry may cost the business more than it’s worth especially if the space could be used to generate additional revenue instead.
Instead, outsourcing laundry services to handle the tough grease and sweat stains would give business owners one less thing to worry about.
Conclusion: Final Thoughts to Consider
Laundry management is a vital component to the backbone supporting any business in any industry that utilizes uniforms and linen frequently.
Because of this, it is critical that decision-makers carefully weigh and consider the decision to either manage laundry in-house or to outsource as either choice is generally long-term and will likely play a significant factor in current and future budgets.
In conclusion, here are a couple of last considerations to keep in mind:
- Place Needs Before Wants: Whether you have a current in-house laundry management system or you’re just receiving an initial breakdown of laundry services, fight the temptation to pick laundry processes you prefer in place of what’s best for your business. Just because an existing in-house laundry system is familiar doesn’t mean it’s efficient.
- Long-Term Thinking: Besides upfront costs, be sure to evaluate the costs and benefits for each method over an extended period of time. While you may have to enter into a multi-year service agreement with a laundry service provider, this will cut out costs associated with labor, energy and water consumption, maintenance and more.
Need Help With Commercial Laundry Service? Woodfield Laundromat Express Has Your Answer
With constant round-the-clock attention required to properly manage an in-house laundry facility in non-stop industries like healthcare, managing laundering requirements can cause extreme pressure on management and business budgets.
At Woodfield Laundromat Express, we provide full end-to-end commercial laundry service to help meet the laundering needs of businesses ranging from small restaurants to massive hotel chains.
To learn more about any of our commercial laundry service or to get started, give us a call at 516.418.2112 Ext. 0, or just fill out the form to get a free no obligation quote today.