CHICAGO — In the laundry and linen services industry, one of the key markers relating to productivity is pounds of linen processed.
The industry saw an increase in pounds processed in 2017 over 2016. That’s what respondents indicated in a recent Your Views survey conducted by American Laundry News.
So, how good was 2017 in terms of pounds processed? Almost 90% of managers who took the survey say they processed more linens, in terms of poundage, in 2017 compared to 2016.
Nearly 70% of respondents indicate that pounds processed at their plants in 2017 was “somewhat higher” than was processed in 2016, while 20% say it was “much higher.”
As expected, there was a wide range of answers to the question, “What will be your total estimated poundage for 2017?”
Most respondents answered in millions of pounds, the lowest being 4.5 million pounds and the highest being 200 million pounds.
“We are kind of like a franchise model,” writes a respondent. “We have 36 affiliated laundry facilities in 22 states. Overall, volume has increased approximately 15% to 200 million annual pounds.”
Smaller operations ranged from 312,000 to 750,000 pounds processed in 2017.
When asked to provide an approximate percentage of increase or decrease of 2017 poundage compared to 2016, the average increase was around 11%. The average decrease was about 4%.
It should be noted that managers reporting an increase for the survey far outnumbered those reporting decreases.
No plant reported that its pounds processed remained static in 2017 compared to 2016.
How did the plants reporting an increase in pounds processed make it happen? The overwhelming response was more business. This business came either by adding more accounts or increased institutional business.
“Customer increases in patient days resulted in more linen being utilized,” writes a respondent. “Also, our equipment improvements resulted in better productivity.”
Improved marketing ideas and management input was also said to have helped plants increase business.
“We opened another plant,” another survey taker writes.
So, what happened with the plants that saw a decrease in pounds processed in 2017, not meeting goals and expectations? Two major factors were cited by laundry managers who took the survey. The first, which can be difficult for a plant to counter, was “slowing or loss of business.”
However, the second major factor for not meeting expectations, which lands directly in the plant, was “productivity of employees.”
“We need better service,” a respondent notes.
After those two factors, respondents pointed to the “capabilities of equipment” and “marketing efforts” as factors leading to decreased pounds processed.
Looking ahead to 2018, survey respondents expect the pounds of linens processed by their plants to increase or remain the same.
Nearly 87% expect 2018 poundage to be “somewhat higher than 2017.” The remaining 13% expect to process “virtually the same amount.”
How do plants plan to make 2018 a better year in terms of poundage? For most laundry managers who took the survey, it comes down to getting more business.
“We first need to get more customers, increase route customers from different areas,” shares a respondent.
Another writes, “Extra marketing with improved processes during the slow time, January and February.”
“Increased new sales and more efficient equipment,” adds another.
Equipment and capacity improvements were also noted by several other respondents in terms of increasing pounds processed.
“As a co-op, most of our growth is organic,” one survey taker writes. “We just added more ironer and folding equipment and have purchased more washroom equipment to be installed early 2018.”
“We continue to upgrade equipment, expanding to match our geographical market base potential,” adds another.
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.