LOUISVILLE — If your institution or business is in the market for a laundry service provider, how can you tell which candidate is a ‘quality’ linen processor and which is not? Or, if you are in the running to provide laundry service for a new client, what are they likely to expect of the provider they ultimately choose?
Helping administrators and managers alike learn how to go about making this determination was the task of Carl Rau, North American laundry market manager for Standard Textile Co., when he agreed to present What to Expect from a Quality Laundry Processor during the Association for Linen Management’s annual educational conference last summer.
“Why are people outsourcing anyway? Not just in our business, but outsourcing is a big key today (elsewhere),” says Rau, who enjoyed a 20-plus-year career in laundry management before moving into sales. “Everyone seems to be doing it, one way or another. Everybody is talking about the way we can be more effective in the marketplace—no matter what business we’re in—is to begin outsourcing.”OUTSOURCING POPULAR TREND IN HEALTHCARE
Rau’s presentation focused on the healthcare segment, which isn’t surprising given the popularity of outsourcing there.
How popular? No hospital department has been contracted more than laundry services for the four years ending in 2009, according to the 32nd annual Outsourcing Survey produced by American Laundry News’ sister publication, Modern Healthcare. Laundry contracts rose 2.3% to include 7,851 healthcare facilities in 2009.
Outsourcing of laundry services by healthcare facilities is becoming more prevalent due to cost-related reasons, according to Rau. Some of these include:
Need for ongoing capital dollars
- Space for revenue generation
- Cost control
- Labor issues
- Volatile energy costs
- Increasing water/sewer charges
- Need for technology to improve processes and increase efficiencies
Often, when it’s a question of financial resources, the laundry can find itself in a losing battle with other departments, Rau says.
“If you’re asking for a new ironer and radiology is asking for a new machine, and radiology is going to generate some cash, and all you’re going to do is generate expense, guess who wins.”
And organizations are constantly being reminded they’ve got to do business a different way, he continues. “‘Get out of your non-core activities and do what you’re best at.’ Organizations keep looking to stay within the framework of what they know.”
Regardless of the type of laundry operation, quality is the key. “Every customer is demanding it, whether you’re healthcare, hospitality, nursing home, any area that you’re working in; you really have to be looking at the quality side of the business.”
When in the market for a processor, Rau suggests utilizing requests for proposals (RFPs). An RFP is an invitation for suppliers to submit a proposal for a specific service.