Commercial Laundry: David Griggs, Superior Linen Service, Muskogee, Okla.
The wisest laundry manager I ever met and worked for would always say, “The laundry that does everything all laundries know they should be doing will be the most successful.”
There are no real secrets or big technological breakthroughs that will differentiate one laundry from the next. We are all producing basically the same linen as our competitors. Still, there are ways to separate your company from the pack.
Here are a few items that I believe a good laundry can do to stick out from the rest. It would not be accurate for me to say that our laundry always hits these marks, but I can say that we always strive to.
Professionalism. There are many procedures that a laundry can implement that may raise your costs. However, being professional every day does not cost you anything.
Are your employees professional when they interact with your customers? How do they treat your customers when they are speaking with them, either on the phone or in-person? Do your employees look professional when they are interacting with your customers?
Packaging. How well are your carts packed? Do you pack a cart with the end-user in mind or do you just think about putting the linen in the cart to ship?
Bundles. How do your bundles look? Everyone can put 10 sheets in a bundle, but not everyone takes the extra time to make sure the folds are neat and the bundles look uniform.
Certifications. TRSA, the association for linen, uniform and facility services, and the Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC) have several certifications that will show that your laundry is performing all the duties needed to produce a quality product.
I do not care how good you may think your plant is performing, when you start the certification process, you will discover some areas that you are deficient.
Route Performance. Are your trucks delivering when they are expected to deliver? Your customers should be able to set their watches by what time your trucks deliver daily.
Chemicals Supply: Lauren Hunker, Ecolab, Eagan, Minn.
Many of the differentiators Ecolab strives for as a chemical supplier are allied to those of the laundry service providers we service as well. Through innovative solutions that deliver consistent quality, a customer-service model that instills confidence in the product while building relationships, and operating with ethical core values, laundry service providers can start to stand out as leaders in their field.
Regardless of the classification of linens being laundered, customers expect the product being delivered to them is reliably clean. This is achieved not just from chemicals applied in the wash process, but products and procedures followed throughout the entire plant and delivery trucks.
Staying on top of industry news and emerging trends can help keep you be at the forefront of industry recommendations and improvements. Marketing the products used and procedures followed to your customers helps them feel confident in what you are doing behind the scenes to ensure you are providing clean linens to them with every delivery.
Accompanying your product with superior personal service helps build a partnership between you and your customer. Route drivers directly interact with the customer and represent the company, so they should be experts in the product they are delivering and be equipped with the tools to address immediate customer concerns.
Listen to customer goals, concerns and shifting priorities to identify opportunities to meet their needs and communicate your value.
Lastly, laundry services can be viewed as leaders by operating with positive economic, social and environmental outcomes as part of the framework for their business model. Keeping safety a priority benefits the company and its employees while communicating social responsibility to your customers.
Look for opportunities in every step of the service you provide—from pickup and delivery to the wash process to linen selection—to identify opportunities to conduct business in a more sustainable manner.
Textiles: Timothy Voit, Thomaston Mills, Wyncote, Pa.
Some industries have only two or three main suppliers. Our industry, like laundry operators, has many competing players. Differentiation is a key to survive and thrive in a crowded marketplace. Without differentiation, only the lowest priced players win any business.
When we embarked on retooling our marketing messaging five years ago, the first thing we had to do was boil down who we were and why people bought from us.
It wasn’t enough to point out that we were one of the few domestic textile manufacturers still in existence. We had to understand why people were willing to pay a little more money for our products to get features like better durability, better service, a more socially and environmentally responsible supply chain, and faster deliveries from stocked goods and turn-around times on custom products.
Then, knowing why people were willing to pay a little bit more to get our products, we had to develop marketing tools to explain these features to new prospects while at the same time “walking the walk” and staying true to our core reasons for being in business.
Therefore, I encourage local laundries to look critically at why people use your services, commit to executing your core differentiating factors, develop marketing methods and materials based on them, and school your salespeople on how to express them to current and potential customers.
Miss Part 1 with advice from our consulting services expert? Click HERE to read it!