CHICAGO — When it comes to keeping up with trends in laundry equipment, chemicals, textiles and other products, most laundry managers who participated in October’s American Laundry News Your Views survey say it’s an important part of the job. In fact, a little more than 88% believe it’s “highly important,” while nearly 12% say it’s “somewhat important.” No one who took the survey thought keeping up with trends was a low-priority task.
“As an industry professional, I consider it my responsibility to be aware of industry standards and any breaking developments,” one respondent says. “However, just because there are new technologies available, that does not mean they are the best solution for our company or our customers.”
Those polled list a number of methods for staying on top of the latest product trends and news. Participants were allowed to choose all the methods that applied. Close to 93% say they turn to industry publications to stay informed, and nearly 88% say they talk to their vendors to learn more. Another popular method, garnering 75.6%, involves communicating with colleagues, and 58.5% of respondents say Internet research leads them to the latest information on product trends. The lowest percentage, 56.1%, say attending trade shows and other events keeps them up to date. No survey participants reported they don’t make an attempt to keep up on the latest trends.
An overwhelming majority of respondents—97.6%—indicate that they are more likely to be interested in a new product or technology if a colleague recommends it.
When asked what best describes their approach to adopting new technology or using new products, 80% of laundry/linen managers polled say they prefer to wait until others have tested the products to see how they perform. The remainder (20%) like to have cutting-edge products in their laundries as soon as they can get them.
“You must move forward to improve and grow,” says one respondent. “Otherwise, you will [become] stagnant and fail. This industry is no different than any other … grow or die.”
“There is always a danger in being the first to use a product. It can be painful and often difficult, as a new piece of equipment or linen needs to get tweaked before it performs properly,” another respondent comments. “I personally find the risk worth the eventual reward.”
Though it may be a far-fetched fantasy, if respondents were given a large sum of money to buy new equipment or products for one facet of their facility or operation, many say they would purchase finishing equipment. Washers were another highly desired product.
One respondent went for the gold, choosing “a new facility” as the most likely item to be purchased with the money instead of any one piece of equipment. Other responses pointed to dryers, energy-efficient lighting, productivity-tracking systems and water-reclamation equipment.
“If you have a good operation going, nurture it,” says a respondent. “Seize the opportunity to become more efficient by adding equipment that will make what you have worked hard to build better. Keep your eyes and ears open, and watch your bottom line.”
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.