Long-Term Care Laundry: Monique C. Walker, Vi at Grayhawk, Scottsdale, Ariz.

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Monique C. Walker

Monique C. Walker

For your operation to run on time there are several things to consider.

Monitor the usage of your washers and dryers by keeping accurate accounts of the workload you have and making sure the washers and dryers are loaded properly.

Take care of your laundry by making sure you have the right chemistry, water temperature and proper chemicals. Also, make sure you have trained staff who are knowledgeable in effectively running the operation.

Have a good preventative maintenance program in place for your equipment to be serviced monthly so that it runs efficiently and doesn’t break down and slow down production.

It is also a good idea to have equipment that is up to date that can offer some features that may help staff. For instance, if you have an automatic ironing machine or a standalone folding machine, these two options would help staff have one less step to perform.

Also, washers having Energy Star Certification help you save on utilities and use less water. This function on a washer cuts down on the drying time of linen.

Now, to maintain quality and stay under budget. Laundry operations in any business setting are always looking for ways to maintain sustainability in the laundry area. Implementing sustainable systems is an important element in maintaining quality and staying under budget in your laundry operation.

Making sure staff is educated and trained on the newest methods and that you have the right equipment in your laundry area is key. Conservation of water and energy is available if you upgrade to low water and low temp laundry machines.

Having an available machine with low water and low temp will allow you to save on detergent as well. It’s a win-win because it helps the environment, it helps you to remain sustainable and, long term, it is a cost savings opportunity that helps your bottom line.

Also, from a budgetary perspective, you can have a checkbook to keep you in line with your expenses. By setting your spending goals at 80% of your budget, you save money by sticking to a tight budget. If you do not spend the other 20% of your budget each month it leaves room for contingencies such as emergencies or unexpected occurrences.

Equipment Manufacturing: Charles Spencer, G.A. Braun Inc., Syracuse, N.Y.

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Charles Spencer

Spencer

If you’re in business long enough, you’ll find that it’s not uncommon to face a year of big challenges that might seem unprecedented at the time. While 2020 may have been the greatest test for many of us, 2021 hasn’t even unfolded yet.

Don’t panic, start planning. We all have heard that the best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago; the second-best time is today! What are you doing today to make 2021 a successful year?

While I’ve worked at companies where annual budgets are July-June and January-December, the one thing that always helped was staying in the moment.

I’ve always focused on trends—weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. If you are watching trends closely, you will be able to make swift adjustments to keep you in line with your budget goals. If you are not watching trends closely, plant that tree today.

Focus on total production pounds shipped, total labor (I’d include everything just as it shows on your budget) and utilities. While there is much more you can track, following your company budget and developing weekly data tracking that follows your budget line will make it easiest to track your success.

Depending on the size of your company, your CEO/CFO should be leading the charge to find COVID-19 relief funding, loan forgiveness, and/or tax breaks and deductions that will impact your financial statement in 2019 and 2020. There is a lot out there relative to federal plans, and even some banks have their own programs such as interest-free loan extensions.

If you don’t ask, you will likely miss out.

Once you’re tracking data that relates to your budget, start looking for ways to improve. Don’t waste time looking for the “perfect” plan. Develop short-term goals that move you toward the long-term goals (budget), and make sure these goals are data-driven and relate to a financial report.

Everything else is subject to interpretation; the financial statement is black and white.

Improvement is most often found in feedback from employees. Make sure the lines of communication are open and continue to share the company goals, strengths and areas needing improvement. Find ways to incentivize your teams—cookouts, doughnuts for breakfast, even small bonuses when the budget is exceeded and the company gets a valued return.

At times like these, it is imperative to keep long-term goals clearly in focus. For example, short-term layoffs may make the budget look better but quality may suffer, which stymies long-term growth goals beyond the impact of 2020.

Likewise, don’t overlook good investments but make ROIs count. A good tax write-off is only for a year, a great one adds value to the company for years through labor, utilities and maintenance savings, just to name a few.

There is always an incentive to purchase new equipment, and forgoing these purchases can lead to increasing maintenance costs and unproductive downtime costs. Again, the long-term goals must remain the focus.

Finally, during times like these, it’s easy to get caught up in “cost savings.” Okay, I know I say that like it’s a bad thing, and it can be if that’s all you’re looking for—but are you also considering opportunities for increasing your revenue?

Perhaps there are some opportunities, revenue streams, that you’ve previously passed on because the value to the bottom line was a smaller percentage than you normally valued for the effort.

If you’re a 15% net-income goal company, maybe under normal circumstances you’d never look at something giving you a 7% return. However, that could be the value that allows you to keep additional employees on staff.

Again, long-range goals are important, and once the veil of this year passes, those who walk this line with discipline will be best prepared to face 2021 and beyond.

Consulting Services: David Graham, Performance Matters, Fort Mill, S.C.

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David Graham

David Graham

I will circle back and answer the question but first some commentary on a budget.

Budgets should be tight and be a reach, as nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Budget makers, how do you put together a budget and make it tight, fair and achievable? I believe you need to start from zero and build it up with manager input and approval.

The old days of taking prior year’s results and adding 5% are over. Only by getting a direct report’s approval will they buy-in and optimize. This is known as a “bottom-up” approach and, when the manager signs off on it, they own it.

Forcing a budget down someone’s throat is counterproductive. Now, to answer the questions from any department manager’s perspective.

What cannot be sacrificed is where I start. Quality, safety and compliance with laws and policies come first to mind. Short-term gain is not in anyone’s best interest.

Start the year strongly. Getting behind the 8-ball early forces some to make bad decisions. Respectfully demand from senior leadership that you be given the data to manage your department.

Bring your key and hourly employees into the equation. I have seen so many try to hide the numbers from the people who can help you achieve the numbers.

Benchmark! Of course, certain data such as payroll dollars and profits are items you may need to hide. Not so with efficiencies and achievements. When the team hits the numbers, you celebrate. Budget yearly dollars for fun and reward.

The budget as a whole. In any budget, you have individual lines that add up to the whole departmental budget. Some expenses are variable and some are fixed. Focus on the variable items. Look at the budget, in its entirety first, and then line by line. You can borrow money from item A and give it to item B.

Any boss worth their salt will look at the whole, but they still should ask you about why you are over budget on certain lines. Be ready to respond with accurate data and let there be no, “I think the reason might be.” Know the reason.

Also, follow the sales and revenue numbers. If revenues are exceeding budget, maybe you can deposit more dollars in your budget. This door swings both ways, though.

Running the business on time. Daily meetings, goal setting and interaction with your employees are mandatory. Be visible on the work floor or in the service department every afternoon. Ride with your sales reps routinely. Set one hour aside weekly to debrief with the boss.

No business can be successfully run from the conference room. Accountability is key. Never perform a physical work function unless it is critical or part of training. Your eye on the business is too important.

Quality. Achieving high quality is a product of setting and enforcing standards. Make those standards visible throughout your operation in every department—then live them.

Equipment/Supply Distribution: Scott McClure, Pellerin Laundry Machinery, Kenner, La.

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Scott McClure

Scott McClure

Maintaining a clean laundry facility and a proactive preventive maintenance program are two of the most important factors in preserving a laundry operation budget.

Instilling daily clean-up plans and implementing routine maintenance schedules are a must in keeping your laundry equipment fully operational and producing good quality. Laundry equipment breaking down due to lack of maintenance can result in costly overtime, expensive emergency repairs and even jeopardize quality.

A clean laundry is the “beginning and the end” of a proactive maintenance program for any laundry facility. Most laundry equipment utilizes photosensors and inverters to perform various tasks. Particularly in the flatwork/folding area, where the presence of lint is most common, it is extremely important to keep these areas clean.

A small piece of lint on a photosensor can affect the quality of your folded products and in some cases cause your machines to go into a shutdown error mode resulting in unnecessary maintenance cost spent diagnosing the problem. Accumulated lint on motors and inverters can cause them to overheat, resulting in premature wear and costly repairs.

Accumulated lint in or around dryers and ducting is a serious problem that can decrease dryer efficiency and increase the risks of a laundry fire.

There are several techniques used for cleaning laundries. Most laundries use a blow-down method. This method typically uses compressed air or fans to blow the lint from the rafters to the floor which is then swept up. The problem with this method is that lint gets everywhere during blow-down and you may end up with increased lint on or inside the equipment.

We recommend a blow-down plan combined with overhead lint filters or a vacuum system. Installing ambient-air lint filters over your sorting, flatwork and folding areas will pull the lint and dust from the air automatically saving labor used to clean and maintain feeding, ironing and folding equipment.

These types of air filters also improve the air quality in the laundry, creating a safer work environment for your employees.

In determining how often to clean your laundry, we recommend reviewing the preventative maintenance schedules provided with the equipment. Most preventative maintenance schedules recommend daily cleaning and inspection of photosensors, motors and inverters. Inner cabinets and panels should also be inspected and vacuumed on a regular basis.

Adhering to manufacturers’ preventative maintenance schedules and maintaining a clean laundry will not only improve the productivity and longevity of your equipment, but it will also instill a positive image to your employees, existing customer base and potential customers.

Every laundry should implement and maintain a comprehensive and persistent maintenance and cleaning schedule for their entire facility.

Check back tomorrow for the conclusion with advice from commercial laundry, textiles, chemicals supply and healthcare laundry experts.