CHICAGO — After the downturn caused by COVID-19, there are some positive signs for laundry/linen services heading into 2022.
That's what respondents indicate in the most recent American Laundry News Your Views survey.
When asked, “How has the pandemic impacted your laundry business,” more than 65% of survey respondents say business has been up or at least steady.
Just over 23% say business is up, and almost 12% indicate “business is way up,” with 38.5% remaining steady.
Business is down for 23.1% of survey takers, and only 11.5% say “business is way down.”
When asked if sales were up compared to this time last year, responses included:
- Many more inquiries and sales. Of course, starting from almost zero last year, anything is an improvement.
- Yes, with food and beverage.
- Slightly more.
- Absolutely not, how could it? Places have closed forever, and we will never recover what was lost!
- FY 2021 Quarter 1 is down and Quarter 2 is up versus FY 2020.
For those laundry and linen services with business trending upward, the reason for the improvement most indicate is the pandemic winding down (45.5%). Almost 41% say demand has increased, while 27.3% offered additional services or added more profit centers.
Just over 18% increased their customer base to improve business, while decreased competition helped 13.6%
Only 9.1% saw results from boosted marketing efforts.
Other responses included, “Vaccinations make it safer for businesses to reopen and expand,” and, “major price increase.”
When asked, “What is the best thing that happened to your business in 2020 into 2021,” responses included:
- Eliminating the stimulus pay to bring workers back.
- PPP money.
- The slowdown of the pandemic allowing business to open.
- Staying operational.
- Capability to support our customers.
- Competition went dormant and shut down sales force.
- Vaccinations make it safer for our customers to reopen and expand.
- We have gone deeper into food and beverage.
- Some customers reopened facilities that were closed. This helped offset the number of customers who closed permanently.
- Acquired more efficient, automated machines.
- We acquired a label maker and press for marking resident clothing and facility scrubs, etc.
- CDC demands bed-topper changeout for every guest in hospitality.
- Disciplined daily employee wellness check procedures.
- Hospital volumes have increased.
- We survived.
When asked, “If your sales haven’t improved since this time last year, what do you blame it on,” responses included:
- No uniform rental sales/market.
- We are on on-site laundry for a rural hospital and extended care. We do not have off-site customers.
- Lack of staffing to install new customers. Time and demands to provide existing customers the services required.
Moving toward the final quarter of 2021 and looking ahead to 2022, more than 65% of respondents are confident will keep improving while 27% say their business will stay the same.
Only 7.7% are worried their business will “remain in decline.”
For laundry operators who say their business will improve or remain the same, reasons include:
- We are allowed inside the hospitals to meet with the CEOs.
- We are primed to expand more healthcare.
- there are always better prospects in the market space and place.
- Once we can get workers back, we can improve our service
- Hospital volumes are increasing with new locations opening soon.
Those worried about continued decline give these reasons:
- Pandemic is increasing (mask mandates on the rise).
- More government control will drive business away.
- I think this year’s overage is a short-term bubble that will return to normal or slightly less in the
- following two to three years.
- Lack of labor.
Overall, the industry is working to make sure it provides quality goods and services to customers in order to stay relevant and in business.
“We need to work to increase the value we bring as an industry,” one respondent writes.
While the Your Views survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific. Due to rounding, percentages may not add up to 100%.
Subscribers to American Laundry News e-mails are invited to take the industry survey anonymously online each quarter. All managers and administrators of institutional/OPL, cooperative, commercial and industrial laundries are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define operator opinions and identify industry trends.