How to Identify Linen Abuse and Stop It (Part 3 of 5)

In order for my customers to be responsible for linens and garments, I suppose they need to be instructed or reminded about abuse. What steps can my operation take to train them and minimize these occurrences? Is it possible that we’re abusing the linen during processing and/or distribution?HOTEL/MOTEL LAUNDERING: Neil MacDonald has managed the laundry at the Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club since the property opened in 1995. His other experience includes managing laundries at the Ihilani Resort & Spa on Oahu, the Westin Century Plaza Hotel and the Westin Kauai Resort.
Communication is the most important part of a successful operation. Making sure everyone in your operation is on the same page is a challenge. When new procedures, policies and regulations arise, it’s important that everyone is notified.
In the laundry, there are many policies and procedures in place to make sure that you provide the best product to your customers. It must be cared for in the most efficient, practical means according to your operation. There are policies and procedures for every task performed in your laundry, from delivery to finishing, from clocking in to staying safe at work. When they’re ignored, it’s usually cause for linen abuse.
The first step I recommend is to get out of the office, walk around and observe how your products are being handled. Take notes, talk to staff and ask questions. Listen to your equipment for unfamiliar sounds like scraping or knocking. Are associates following the policies and procedures to report equipment failure?
Take those observations and turn them into a daily training program. If linen misuse is a concern, then focus on proper procedures to minimize damage. Devote a few minutes a day at each pre-shift to review policy and procedure. That will keep you and your staff on the same page.
When you finish the training, start over. Keep it fresh and update the information as you go. If you have to ask, “Is it possible?” then you need to find out for yourself. Take a walk.
Keep records of your training. Have associates sign or initial the document and keep it on file. I believe that you can’t review policies and procedures enough. You need to continually review this information with your staff, especially when there is turnover or new products are introduced.CONSULTING: Jim Buchbinder has been the vice president of business development for Turn-Key Industrial Engineering Services since January 2007. Previously, he worked at Arrow Uniform Rental for 23 years, from plant manager to vice president of product development and distribution. He’s a member of the Uniform & Textile Service Association (UTSA) Plant Operations Hall of Fame.
Customers certainly should be educated on the proper procedures for handling the products that you’re providing them. The steps to take to minimize loss/damage and create a win-win situation are as simple as 1-2-3: educate, monitor and enforce.
Who is in a position to educate your customers? Ideally, this would start with the sales representative who makes the initial sale, and continue with the route service representative who services the account every week.
What are some examples of educating customers of potential situations that can create damages?
• Wet linens stored in a canvas or plastic soiled bag for a week, creating mildew staining.
• Soiled, damp linens left on a concrete floor, creating stains.
• Products used for a purpose other than that for which they were intended, such as #1 dishtowels to clean a grill.
Who’s in a position to monitor these situations? Certainly, if the route service rep is picking up soil at various customer locations, he or she could see these situations and go back to educating the customer. If your plant isn’t counting soiled linen by account, but simply dumping untagged bags of soil into load slings, then your route service rep is your only hope. If you’re counting by customer and tagging soil by customer, then your plant can flag customer abuse so that it can be brought to your customer’s attention.
So how do you hold your customers accountable for their carelessness? If you’ve educated up front, monitored each week and now have found customer abuse that can’t be disputed, enforce the damage charges about which you educated the customer when you signed the contract.
This should provide motivation to start handling your products in such a way that you realize full product life from them. It should also prevent you from losing hard-earned profits due to your customer’s negligence.
What are some things that you may be doing to create damage within your own operation?
• Improper soil segregation on the route truck. Stacking heavily soiled product on top of lightly soiled product will create unnecessary damages.
• Not processing soiled product in a timely manner. Nasty mixed loads of product pushed aside because no one wants to deal with them won’t get cleaner over time.
• Not protecting clean, finished product from the elements. If product is not bagged or wrapped, make sure that the shipping container is wrapped.


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