CHICAGO — Looking back, 2014 was a good year for the majority of laundry/linen managers who took this month’s American Laundry News Your Views survey. More than half estimate that they processed more poundage in 2014 than in 2013, with a small percentage (3.9%) stating that their throughput this year was “much higher” than it was the previous year.
Business was steady in 2014 for 21.2% of respondents, who say that “virtually the same amount” of linens were processed at their facilities when compared to 2013. Nearly a quarter of respondents, however, report that throughput was “somewhat less than 2013.” No one taking the survey reported 2014 throughput being “much less” than in 2013.
Individual estimates on total poundage for 2014 ranged from 28,000 pounds to 50 million pounds.
“There are several variables to take into consideration along with the poundage you are producing. If your poundage drops, then so should your expenses to mirror this trend,” one respondent comments. “Labor, processing and replacement cost(s) should be showing the same trend or administration will want to know why.”
“We have been working with our customers to reduce utilization based on pounds used per patient day. This is a benefit to them, but difficult for us, as poundage will likely drop as a result,” writes another.
For the vast majority of respondents who experienced an increase in production (72.2%), more institutional business or increased total accounts was chief among the factors responsible for this increase (respondents were directed to select any or all from a group of possibilities). Smaller shares report that adding, replacing or rebuilding production equipment accounted for the swell in production (5.6%), while others attribute it to redesigned workflow (8.3%), facility expansion or relocation to a larger site (8.3%), or the addition of production workers (2.8%).
Nearly 20% pointed to “other” reasons for increased poundage, including improved efficiencies that lowered expenses, higher occupancies in the hospitality market, and a surge in inmate population, for example.
“Our industry is a volume-driven industry,” writes a respondent. “The closer we get to a laundry’s capacity, the lower the overall cost.”
And when asked what factors, if any, may have caused their operations to fall short of their annual goals or expectations, those polled point to a range of issues. Chief among them is the slowing or loss of business (38.4%). Equal shares of 15.4% blame the capabilities of equipment and maintenance efforts, while 11.5% say administration indifference or lack of support could be the reason. Staff productivity is seen as the culprit for only 3.9% of respondents. (Respondents could choose any or all from among a list of six factors.)
Outsourcing, the sale of a member hospital, and new, lighter-weight fabrics are among the causes for the 38.4% who also cite “other” reasons that goals went unmet.
“Expect 100% of the capacity of your equipment and staff,” one respondent advises.
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 month.
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.