CHICAGO — Over the past few years, laundry and linen services have been in survival mode.
The pandemic, lockdowns, supply-chain and labor issues, economic challenges—many operations have been doing all they can to simply process goods.
And customers were delighted to have clean linens.
The further the world gets from the pandemic and challenges are gradually overcome, laundry and linen services must refocus on quality to satisfy customers even as operations are still working to recover.
The most challenging pieces of maintaining quality laundry over the past few years have been supply-chain and labor issues, shares Harry Kertenian, COO-CFO of Magic Laundry Services headquartered in Montebello, California.
“After the pandemic, supply-chain issues were a big challenge for our vendors/suppliers, which was a bit challenging with some areas of our operations,” he says.
“Also, the labor market really took a hit in both the finding of workers as well as the quality of labor. It took some time to rebuild our teams, invest in training while simultaneously ‘being live’ with the process, and rethinking how we operate.
“We are always mindful to learn from the past so as to continue growing and becoming more educated in building better foundations for the future.”
Kertenian shares that labor was a key issue due to loss of previously trained staff who were either moving on or choosing to remain unemployed due to state benefits.
“The cost of recruitment, training, and general lack of interested, quality workers was high,” he says. “We were fortunate to continue even with a minimal workforce, while other laundries and hotels were forced to close.”
Over the challenging years, Kertenian says that Magic Laundry’s customers didn’t react all that much because the company’s mentality has always been to maintain and improve quality and customer service for its clients.
“Internally, we did everything to maintain quality, stability and customer expectation,” he points out.
Open lines of communication between customers and teams, experienced employees who have grown from challenges/learning opportunities, and technological resources/reports from the equipment are key to analyzing an operation’s quality, according to Kertenian.
“We also have a great team of customer service specialists who are engaged with both our in-house processes/teams as well as open communication with our customers who provide essential feedback that is crucial for maintaining quality,” he adds.
“Investment is a key component to growth,” he continues. “Without investment into new technologies, you must focus on training and improving the skills of your labor force.
Kertenian recommends building employees and teams from within an organization to raise quality levels.
“Have them learn from the challenges we all deal with,” he says. “Then, make sure these challenges/learning opportunities are addressed before they come to a head.
“Internally groomed/raised employees who have experienced various challenges already have tested skills and methods. They know better how to make good decisions and are better prepared to handle issues and address them quickly.”
To increase processing quality, Kertenian says laundry operations should be looking for better and newer equipment and keeping up with the industry standards.
“Also, we are firm believers that having the best equipment alone will not take you over the top unless it’s backed by a well-trained and satisfied labor force,” he adds.
Check back next Tuesday to read about optimizing equipment, quality control, the human factor and maintaining laundry quality in the future.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].