CHICAGO — When it comes to choosing the best textiles for their business, respondents to the latest American Laundry News Your Views survey are overwhelmingly looking for three things: price, quality and durability.
When asked what’s more important when choosing textile products, each answer (purchase price, quality [cost per use] and durability) was selected by 5.7% of respondents. However, nearly three-quarters of those who answered say that all three criteria are important.
“Being that we are part of one of the largest laundry systems in the world, we employ a mostly centralized decision process where there is a GM representative from each of the company’s eight North American regions,” one respondent writes. “New products and existing lines are evaluated, and criteria include functionality, features, durability, price and supply chain availability/capability.”
Almost 45% of managers and operators who took the survey say that their business processes a mix of customer-owned goods and rental textiles. Slightly more than 35% of respondents process “virtually all customer-owned goods,” while 20.6% handle “virtually all rental textiles.”
Choosing the textiles a laundry processes is an important part of the process, since almost 86% of respondents (or one of their staff members) play a role in the selection. Less than 15% don’t play a part in choosing textiles.
In making that choice, according to several managers who took the survey, it is important for laundries to keep their customers in mind, along with prices.
“(The selection) depends on the need of the customer and also trying to keep costs down,” a respondent writes.
Another writes, “We don’t purchase cheap or alternative goods. We use major brands and try to duplicate what the customer was using prior to our involvement … unless the linen selection had been an issue. Our philosophy is that linen should be invisible. There are other things for the customer to think about.”
Still, respondents want to be sure the initial price and costs associated with the selected textiles are reasonable in the long run.
“Cost per use is important in our selection,” writes a respondent. “This includes processing cost and replacement cost spread over the number of washings.”
One factor that has influenced textile purchases for some launderers is material prices. As one respondent puts it, “Price always impacts a laundry’s operation.”
“Aside from labor costs, textile purchasing costs are our second biggest cost driver,” adds another. “The spike in textile costs from five years ago had an adverse effect on our operating costs, but it has leveled off since then.”
Other ways those who took the survey noted that material prices have affected operations include a reduction in pounds processed and a lower profit margin—“It’s difficult to pass on these increases to the customer.”
However, another respondent isn’t seeing adverse effects from material prices. “Reductions in processing costs have offset any material price increases. Along with a longer service life of products, costs have also been flat over the past two years.”
The end result for one respondent is: “Everything we do is to get the most life out of our linens by proper washing, finishing and purchasing. We stick to our guns even if the price goes up.”
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 total 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.