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Survey: Attracting Business, Building on Quality Staff Among Top 2014 Priorities

CHICAGO — More than half of laundry/linen operators polled say 2013 was a “good” year for their operation/business (53.9%), according to this month’s American Laundry News Your Views survey.

A quarter of respondents (25.0%) report that the past year was “average,” while roughly 12% say it was “great.” A small percentage reports 2013 performance was “below average” (9.2%), while no respondents (0.0%) say the past year brought “poor” results.

Regardless of their rating, the majority of respondents (82.9%) say the past year turned out as they expected for their operation/business, while 14.5% say it wasn’t what they expected. Only 2.6% were undecided.

Roughly 67% of respondents say they were able to accomplish “some” of their 2013 goals, while 27.6% say they accomplished “all” of their goals. Equal shares of 2.6% say they either “didn’t accomplish any” goals, or set no goals at all.

“Our volume remained high, and the production was high and climbing all year,” says one operator, regarding the best thing that happened to his/her operation/business in 2013.

“[We] improved personal laundry services to the residents,” says another. “Less complaints, more positive feedback.”

While some operators were able to build a new facility, others listed operational improvements, such as trimming utility expenses and boosting employee morale, as the best thing that happened to their business last year.

In terms of the “worst” thing to happen, one operator says, “Mechanical breakdowns are always scary, and we had some interruptions.”

“Besides reduced poundage, we lost a few longtime clients to unfair competition,” says another. “Certain EVS companies are expanding into the laundry business. … They have an unfair advantage of seeing our pricing, and then having the opportunity to offer lower pricing just to get the business.”

A majority of operators are looking to “market service to attract more business” in 2014 (23.7%), while 21.1% plan to “build on quality staff.”

Other operators report their top 2014 business priorities are to “increase productivity” (15.8%), “add or replace equipment” (11.8%), “improve distribution or route management” (7.9%), or “create greater energy savings” (6.6%).

Another 13.2% of respondents listed other business goals, such as “[increasing] quality of final product,” adding capacity/expanding their facility, or reducing cost.

More than half of respondents (56.0%) believe they stand a “good chance” of accomplishing their 2014 business goals, while 28.0% say they will “accomplish it, without a doubt.” Roughly 11% believe they only have a “50/50” chance. Smaller shares believe they have a “slim chance” (4.0%) or “no chance” (1.3%) of reaching their goals.

While the Your Views survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific.

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 industry trends.

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