Looking Back, Looking Ahead (Conclusion)

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(Image credit: Alissa Ausmann)

“What do you think was the most significant issue in laundry and linen services in 2016? What do you think is going to make an impact in 2017?”

Chemicals Supply: Scott Pariser, Pariser Industries Inc., Paterson, N.J.

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Scott Pariser

Scott Pariser

It is hard to pinpoint the most significant issue in laundry and linen services this past year as each laundry operation is unique and faces its own specific issues and nuances, and must, therefore, contend with its own order of priority as to their remedy.

In general, laundry operators will be faced with ongoing and deepening concerns relating to the safety of their employees and customers, sustainability of their supply and consumptive resources, and the bottom-line profit and/or operating efficiency of their respective operations. Additionally, linen costs will continue to increase beyond their historically high levels.

Safety concerns will continue to be addressed through management’s heightened awareness and the attention given to worker education and procedural disciplines.

Similarly, infectious control guidelines and protocols will enhance the already significant progress and track record our industry has made in its efforts to provide consistently hygienic linen to its customers.

The increased availability and economy of sustainable chemistry and related laundry supplies will be an evolving, important part of every laundry manager’s purview.

Whether a laundry operation is a “non-” or a “for-profit” one, the need for greater efficiency will remain a paramount concern for its management. It will be more and more incumbent upon laundry managers to quantify their total laundry-related costs as a function of the total pounds of linen processed and, through comparison with other similar operations and available industry standards, determine where they relatively stand and reasonably could be. 

In the coming year, the already significant cost of replacement linen is likely to be a growing concern; therefore, every laundry operation will need to determine how it can significantly offset this cost increase by best minimizing its energy footprint and utilizing developing technologies to maximize labor productivity while continuing to safely provide clean and sanitary linens to its end-users.

Textiles: Steve Kallenbach, ADI American Dawn, Los Angeles, Calif.

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Steve Kallenbach

Steve Kallenbach

Simply put, organic penetration is current business along with balance in chasing new money. 

Following the recent recession, we’ve all enjoyed fantastic growth in 2014 and 2015. We built stronger infrastructures and brought in bigger inventories to support our growth. 

The past two years have seen U.S. GDP at 3.5% and higher. During 2016, U.S. GDP has leveled to under 2%. Not recessionary at all, but certainly noticeable. 

The year 2017 is expected to bring steady growth with slight improvement.

During these economic resets, it’s important to do three things. First, look at your metrics in every area to make sure your infrastructure is efficient to your standards and expected outcomes. Look at inventories to see if they need to be adjusted to a different level of actual growth. 

Second, look beyond just your core competencies in the market and see if you can adjust your marketing to extend into new areas of product and services. In other words, follow the new money. Our economy is stable and growing modestly. Good businesses are now looking at new markets and segments they can serve without major investment or restructure. 

Here’s an example. A typical conservative industrial uniform rental laundry is one of the more impacted service segments during an economic leveling period. If it changes nothing, its business will remain strong, with reasonable, but slowing, growth. 

While healthcare is still the fastest growing segment, this “industrial” operation is simply not equipped to extend directly into healthcare, especially since they likely don’t own an ironer. However, the micro-segment of microfiber room cleaning would require no new equipment, just a slightly new packaging/delivery process, and some education in marketing and sales.

With just a little repositioning, any laundry could enter this portion (room cleaning/housekeeping) of the healthcare market, with immediate measurable success, a market that is currently growing at seven times the rate of our economy. That is chasing the new money. 

Third, and perhaps the biggest growth opportunity in our markets, is organic penetration. Study every account and look at what “could” be delivered to a model account, versus what you are actually servicing. This is the most profitable and stable growth you can chase, with very little investment, mainly focus. 

Growth will be our biggest challenge in the coming year, and we simply have to adjust some habits to stay vibrant. 

So, first, take a look at your operational efficiencies. Then, look at organic penetration in current business. Finally, look where you can grow into extended markets for new, untapped money (without major investment). Here’s to a successful 2017 and beyond!

Miss Part 1? Click here to read what our consulting services expert had to say.

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