Skip to main content
panel of experts

You are here

Moving Toward a Post-COVID-19 World (Part 1)

“As we’re slowly moving toward a post-COVID-19 world, what changes will be needed in our approach to selling (technology, adding markets and products, etc.) and hiring/training/retaining personnel in the new economy?”

Other Institution Laundry: Frank Zacchigna, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Hines, Ill.

I would say on the hiring part of the question that, in a word, you need to be “flexible.”

You need to be flexible to considering working odd hours or shifts, remote work (which really isn’t an option in laundry), networking to attract talent and incorporating incentive pay into your operation.

The world is a very different place post-pandemic, or soon will be, for employers and employees alike. Employers will need to offer pay and benefit options to retain and attract top talent that they never considered before.

Employee expectations have changed as well. What was once acceptable employer behavior regarding pay and benefits is no longer a recipe for success. More changes are coming and to survive, thrive and grow long-term, we will all need to be flexible.

Chemicals Supply: Campbell Dodson, Lavo Solutions LLC, Cincinnati, Ohio

I’m sure we can all agree that the world, in general, is a much different place post-COVID.

For many businesses, areas such as sales, operations, procurement, human resources and others had to adapt to many new challenges, market conditions and to unique ways of conducting day-to-day meetings, sales calls and interviews.

For example, just consider how many Zoom meetings you had over the past 18 months. Too many to count, right? So, with all these changes comes a need for adaptation and the following are a few suggestions of how to adjust a few areas of business differently, in this new economy.

During the pandemic, it was hard to generate new, qualified leads and conduct any type of in-person sales meetings. If you are still struggling to bring in new customers, try focusing more on the ones you already have, who are still with you despite the economic challenges.

Focus on creating services and ad campaigns to target their new needs and that will help them continue to generate revenue. They will thank you for it in the form of customer loyalty and continued purchases for many years to come.

In our business, we shifted our sales strategy, successfully, to focus on a secondary channel to market using additional solutions. We sold many of these solutions to our current customer partners who were able to create additional sources of revenue for their own businesses. Win-win for both!

Travel restrictions and lockdowns proved to be challenging during the pandemic. Therefore, it is worth reflecting on moving many of the things you do, online. Consider creating or updating websites, running new social media campaigns or focusing more on e-commerce trends.

Now is the time to increase your online presence. It is likely that you already have many of your business functions online, but the pandemic has shown us just how much more we can do online.

For example, our company changed to a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) and Zoom to help us become more efficient with our sales data, customer tracking and accessibility to our remote sales team. The bottom line is, the more processes you can bring online, the more you can stay engaged with both customers and employees.

I learned early in my career from a mentor of mine to always hire, and pay for, the best talent. Make sure to secure your talented partners in this post-COVID time. In today’s tight labor market, it’s harder than ever to fill vacant positions with talented people.

As a business, you did the right things to hire the right talent. Now invest in ways to keep your employees working for you, rather than a competitor. Consider things like supporting their work-from-home needs, regular continuous-improvement training to hone their existing skills and incentives like additional bonuses or contests to keep things fun and exciting.

Reduce your turnover by investing in your people.

As the world opens back up, there will be more challenges and certainly more changes to the way we conduct business. How will you and your business embrace the new economy?

Textiles: Cecil B. Lee, Standard Textile, Cincinnati, Ohio

I believe this post-COVID-19 window is a great opportunity for innovation and acceptance of change. We have customers’ “ears,” and they are listening like no other time. No one wants to be caught flat-footed again regarding the myriad benefits of reusable healthcare products.

We have healthcare workers who prior to COVID-19 never used certain reusable products. We are charged with training them regarding our products, their proper usage, their quality, their life and their enhancements over disposable products. The fact that they are planet-friendly is icing on the cake.

We have excellent reusable products that are unknown to many. While surgical products abound (surgical towels, surgical gowns, isolations gowns, wrappers, barrier fabrics), the same is true for non-surgical linen. The multifaceted uses of a simple quality pillowcase for procedures are relevant whether the item is 100% cotton or a blend.

More focus on having reusables as part of emergency planning is a good strategy. This is the positive consequence of the COVID-19 epidemic; it has caused all of us to think differently. The initial reaction to COVID-19 is over, and customers are considering products for their enhancement potential.

I am guessing that with the job opportunity turnover we are experiencing, we have people working different jobs who ask “why” just a little bit more. It flies along with the thinking of young people today whose desires are different from the baby boomers and who ask, “Why can’t it be different?”

Maintaining strategic inventories will be improved, and ordering practices will be more regular/consistent and planned. The current (shipping) container issue bears witness to the need for this.

While in some places there is an excess of reusables and disposables ordered and in inventory, education and contact must persist, so our reusable products are the next thing ordered regardless of the time frame.

One thing I have always liked about our industry is that it is logical. While COVID-19 was dramatic and traumatic, in the laundry it was more of an expansion of personal protective equipment (PPE) norms. In many respects (PPE), our teachings were validated inside the laundry. Our laundries are safe.

Our opportunity is as simple as the resurgence of the reusable doctor’s/surgical cap … actual usage and access.

I hope all of us collectively market to our invigorated audience in professional, thorough and successful ways. Selling in the reusable healthcare laundry market post-COVID-19 is an opportunity to expose our product training acumen to our customers, both healthcare and hospitality.

We have their attention, let us keep it.

Equipment/Supply Distribution: Scott McClure, Pellerin Laundry Machinery, Kenner, La.

The pandemic certainly put constraints on travel and meeting with customers face-to-face. We are gradually seeing our customers be more receptive to in-person meetings and travel is starting to get back to some normalcy.

But like most companies, we turned more to virtual online meetings with customers and our employees. Online virtual meetings allow you to demonstrate your products or discuss topics with a large group of customers and team members in a more cost-effective venue.

Of course, the pandemic did not create virtual meetings, but it raised their popularity drastically. Even though business is starting to get back to normal, we see several advantages in continuing to utilize online meetings for both employees and customers.

During the pandemic last year, we successfully utilized virtual meetings for interviewing. We also implemented more virtual tours of laundries to demonstrate our products and customer testimonials.

Our manufacturers used virtual meetings on a broader scale to demonstrate their products and discuss certain topics with hundreds of salesmen and management staff. With the absence of Clean Shows and other sales meetings, these virtual meetings proved to be essential and very successful.

We have also used video links to help our customers with programming, maintaining and operating machinery, as well as service and repair demonstrations. Our customers can easily access this data through our websites and video hosting sites like YouTube.

If virtual meetings are used effectively, they can certainly lower operating expenses, help to get more essential people involved and improve time management.

Check back tomorrow for the conclusion with thoughts from experts in commercial laundry, equipment manufacturing and consulting services.

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