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Improving Laundry Customer Retention (Conclusion)

“I’ve noticed reductions in our customer retention rates. What could have changed in the wants/needs of today’s laundry customers, and what steps can I take to hang onto more of them?”

Hotel/Motel/Resort Laundry: Rodrigo Patron, Lace House Linen, Petaluma, Calif.

Rodrigo Patron
Rodrigo Patron

In recent years, we’ve come to realize that unexpected challenges such as shortages and supply-chain disruptions can sometimes be difficult to navigate, despite our best efforts and plans. 

However, we’ve learned that these obstacles are typically not impossible to overcome. To find solutions, we must think outside the box, coming up with creative and unconventional ideas that will ultimately benefit our clients.

This type of thinking doesn’t have to be complicated; it can be as simple as offering an alternative item or adjusting delivery times to accommodate a request.

For instance, we can suggest “similar” color options for napkins that are currently out of stock or recommend a complementary tablecloth color that is readily available. We can also provide additional deliveries and communicate to our clients that we are open to unconventional, but practical, ideas and are eager to work with them.

Instead of giving up and blaming supply-chain issues, we can ask questions, propose different alternatives and strive to understand our client’s needs. These efforts can make all the difference in keeping their business.

And yes, we know that retaining 100% of your customers is not always possible, but we have found that our willingness to be flexible and collaborate with our clients during challenging times has helped us retain their business and prevent account losses.

Uniforms/Workwear Manufacturing: Scott Delin, Fashion Seal Healthcare, Seminole, Fla.

Scott Delin
Scott Delin

I don’t know about you, but ever since I have started traveling again, I have noticed BIG changes in multiple airports, hotels and even towns/cities I pass through on my way to and from visiting customers. 

One big thing I have noticed since traveling again is that many of the restaurants one would visit to grab a meal have reduced their hours or even, unfortunately, closed their doors. Hotels that used to serve breakfast now only offer pre-packaged breakfast items. Restaurants in many cities offer menus with limited choices. Travel is not what it used to be for sure.

However, with that said, in my most recent travels, on a more positive note, I have noticed many changes happening out there. For example, in airports, some of the once-closed establishments have reopened either with limited hours or under a new brand with new extended hours.  

Restaurants in many of the cities I visit have changed their storefront look and inside décor. They have also introduced new limited menus and new hours to attract or bring back their once loyal customer base. 

Room cleaning services at hotels previously halted due to COVID are now being brought back to life. As for food in hotels, once again overnight guests are being offered a freshly cooked breakfast instead of prepackaged meals. Changes are happening. 

This has caused me to pause and think about healthcare and the commercial laundry business. What are we as operators doing to tackle reductions or losses in our customer retention rates? Are we adapting to the new way of doing business because unfortunately since COVID, it is no longer business as usual.  

As operators, we need to take steps and implement new strategies to not only keep our customer base but also take care of their new demands as well. These new demands are due to the challenging ever-changing environment we now live in. 

Today’s mantra is, “Do more with less!” Belt tightening is the new thing these days. Waste, slack in productivity, looking for cost savings and ways to be more efficient are now being addressed in an effort to save not only our business but our customer’s business as well.  

What are we doing to help our customers retain their customers and grow their base while at the same time taking care of business in-house?

It is time to think outside the box and take all the new guesswork out of the equation. Ask questions that will better serve our customer base and assist them in their customer retention.

• Revisit the product line and programs we provide to our customers.  

  • As the needs of our customers have changed, are we supplying the right product mix to meet their needs while not adding to their bottom line? Sit, talk and review.
  • What new items can we offer our customers in an effort to satisfy the new needs/demands of their customer base?
  • How can improve our delivery methods and way of doing business to help with their new demands? 
  • We need to revisit our customers and make sure they have the correct products to meet their current needs. Since COVID, needs may have changed, and the current product mix may not meet customers’ expectations.  

• Now that germ warfare has been elevated to a new level, what are we doing to ensure bacteria-free products are being delivered to our customer base?

  • When was the last time we took a good, hard look at our plants to see what changes we can make internally to ensure we are delivering hygienically clean products to our customers daily/weekly, whether it be machinery, engineering, product flow and even internal staffing?  
  • When was the last time we met with our engineering team to see what machinery improvements can be made to reduce labor while not taking away from the quality of products we produce for our laundries? 
  • Maybe it is time to set up weekly meetings to go over ideas and solutions. As a team, discuss options for improvement, growth and retention.   
  • What can we do and implement as a team that will guarantee bacteria/contaminant-free products are delivered on a daily/weekly basis?

• Delivery and storage—What new ideas can we offer that may impact labor costs, delivery costs, and storage costs and space? 

  • Instead of delivering in bulk, can we now deliver by man?
  • Bar codes or RFID—Can we offer these options to our customer base as a way to maintain integrity in the life and quality of the product?
  • In an effort to reduce storage, can we offer lockers or vending units to dispense product as needed to avoid losses, hoarding and insufficient quality?

The bottom line here is we need to realize things have changed and will continue to change at a faster pace than we were used to in the past. Our customers have choices, and now that the way of doing business continues to evolve, so must we.  

We need to do EVERYTHING in our power to offer solutions to retain customers and business and make our base happy. If their customers are happy, they retain business and have a good chance of growing. As they grow and retain, so do we. 

I am happy to say that several months back when getting off the plane early evening in Philly trying to grab a quick bite was tough due to all the closures and labor shortages in airport eateries, but not tonight. 

Change is in the air because Geno’s has finally extended their hours at the airport and is now open for business. Cheesesteak with onions anyone? They have retained my business for sure.

Miss Part 1 with ideas from healthcare laundry, textile/uniform rental and consulting services experts? Click HERE to read it.

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].