CHICAGO — “I get by with a little help from my friends.”
Ringo Starr first sang those words with The Beatles in 1967, and today the sentiment rings true more than ever.
We all need friends, and we all need help from friends to get by.
How does that relate to laundry and linen services? For independent operators, it pays to have a network of support from “friendly competitors.”
For some operators, that support comes from nationwide partnerships they’ve entered into with other independent laundries.
This article examines two such partnerships, each with a different focus.
This time, Randy Bartsch, CEO of Ecotex Healthcare Linen Service, shares how the Healthcare Linen Alliance (HLA) provides support, education and tactical alignments to its laundry operator members.
HEALTHCARE LINEN ALLIANCE
In 2016, five leading regional healthcare linen service providers founded the Healthcare Linen Alliance. As an alliance of healthcare laundry companies, collectively the HLA is among the very largest hospital laundry operators in the United States and Canada.
Together, HLA leads the charge for excellence in linen and laundry services. Committed to the highest standards of linen cleanliness, order fill rates and on-time deliveries, the HLA provides high-performance “local” service programs. The HLA works with its client hospitals to drive down overall laundry program costs by focusing on product selection, utilization, education and ongoing support.
Today, HLA members operate 27 healthcare linen processing plants serving more than 2,100 hospitals, medical facilities and health systems in the United States and Canada. The Alliance covers all or part of 28 states and several provinces in Canada, processing more than 750 million pounds of healthcare laundry a year.
The scope of the HLA program continues to grow through organic sales, new members and acquisitions by its current members.
The HLA offers many benefits to its member laundries. The Alliance provides a C-level support network through monthly conference calls updating on strategy, business development and staying current on events affecting our industry.
Regular in-person meetings, usually twice a year and combined with another trade association’s event, provide tactical alignment and allowing members to focus on our business strategies for improved performance.
Each HLA member is independent and brings an “owner’s touch” to the group. The HLA uses the adage “seeking synergy by doing things together we can’t do as well individually” as its “North Star.”
“This was especially important as our members supported each other with the onset of the COVID pandemic,” says Rick Gaffney, HLA’s director of Business Development. “We are always talking about best practices among our members and how we can improve quality and operating efficiencies.
“We work collaboratively on sales strategy and how to best serve regional and national prospective healthcare customers and health systems.”
This includes strategies to help each other understand how best to expand services and programs for existing customers with new innovative products and services, such as the use of reusable personal protective equipment (PPE) items and cover garments.
In 2019, the HLA experienced strong growth and its member companies had great momentum heading into 2020. Then the pandemic happened, with everyone affected and topline revenues impacted. By working together and supporting each other, HLA members addressed opportunities to be of greater value to their customers through a difficult period.
By sharing and learning from each other HLA members have mostly recovered from those tough times back in the spring of 2020.
“We are excited as a group about the growth prospects for 2021 and beyond,” Gaffney says.
The Alliance is continuing to invest in new equipment, technology and expanding its facilities and coverage.
Using the specialized knowledge of years in the industry, HLA members can bring innovative solutions and ideas to help their customers meet the changing demands of healthcare. With this experience, the HLA has been able to address increased cost pressures as well as concerns about business continuity, assurance of supply, and infection control.
HLA members support their customers to achieve better clinical outcomes through best practices in linen handling, innovative products and improved infection prevention.
The Alliance has taken a long-term view with its customer relationships and has been able to offer fair pricing programs that are transparent and all-inclusive, providing hospitals with the lowest overall cost.
With a progressive, innovative, and focused approach to customer service supported by dedicated and knowledgeable management teams, the HLA delivers high-performance laundry and linen programs.
The HLA offers a strong, national presence and can cover a growing number of customer locations, meeting health system requirements for linen quality and consistent service. The Alliance follows all guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
HLA production facilities and processes have been reviewed and meet or exceed the standards established by the Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC), and TRSA’s Hygienically Clean Healthcare certification.
The HLA provides a comprehensive range of linens, laundry, reusable PPE and reusable surgical linen programs, as well as linen management, textiles, logistics and distribution services to healthcare customers, large hospitals, medical clinics and other commercial accounts.
Alliance members remain independent, privately owned and operated businesses with years of experience. All HLA members are actively engaged in their businesses, and as local, or regional owner-operators they have a reputation of keeping the commitments they make.
The HLA continues to increase its service reach and expand its national coverage.
Gaffney says, “Our Alliance members have been successful in building their book of business by acquiring new customers. In addition, through the sharing of ideas and learnings, each member has improved their bottom-line.”
The Alliance is open to potential new members that share the common values and goals of the group, add value and are willing to work to strengthen the group’s overall objectives.
Check back Thursday for the conclusion about CSCNetwork.