What Gets Measured is What Gets Done (Part 2 of 3)

“To ensure that the laundry I manage is achieving top production on an ongoing basis, what records should I be keeping and why? Do you track anything out of the norm?”Consulting Services: Charles Berge, American Laundry Systems, Haverhill, Mass.
Any laundry manager needs to measure production in some fashion to establish facility benchmarks that are to be achieved daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. It’s also called job security. The five words a manager dreads hearing from environmental services/purchasing are “We are closing the laundry.”
The important numbers that need to be measured are those directly related to your highest costs. In a typical laundry operation, labor and utilities represent the highest percentage of overall expenses.
Before you get started, you have to answer three questions:

  • How do you plan to use these numbers? If your idea of motivation and productivity is to use them as a disciplinary tool, then I suggest you forget it. These numbers should be used to set standards within the facility to achieve the laundry operation’s goals related to daily linen requirements.
  • Do you have a scale to weigh the soiled linens? If not, purchase a small scale and make sure it is checked for accuracy regularly. Weight is the most common measurement for any laundry operation.
  • Who is considered direct labor? These are the employees who contribute directly to laundry production, including general laundry workers and any maintenance employees who work directly for the laundry. Administration, management, housekeeping and delivery are typically not included.

[NP][/NP]Labor — When measuring labor, the basic statistic is pounds per operator hour (PPOH or POH). This should be measured daily and simply entails dividing the total pounds processed by direct labor by the total hours they worked. Do this for 30 days to see if it reveals any weekly trends that you might be able to adjust for. Continue this each month to identify long-term trends.
You can use the PPOH as a daily management tool to gauge the amount of labor needed to meet customer demands. This and the standards set in specific duties within the facility give you important tools to improve the operation. It’s human nature to desire feedback on our job performance, whether positive or negative.
Standards can be set for departments, and these can be the easiest production standards to manage. Peer pressure usually helps to identify issues within the operation. If you’re already measuring PPOH, then maybe it’s time to start looking at individual job functions.Utilities — Some of you may ask about measuring the utilities since you never see the utility bills. What you don’t know will only come back to haunt you. Depending on where your laundry is located, your utility costs could be your second highest expense.
Where do you start? If you get your utilities from a central power plant, you need to investigate having meters installed on the main lines feeding the laundry operation. Electricity can be expensive but focus on water, sewer and natural gas for now because they’ve seen the highest increases the last few years.
After installing meters, you can get readings on a daily basis. Utilities in the laundry industry are commonly measured in gallons per pound (water) and Btu per hundredweight (natural gas).
Regarding the sewer discharge, most laundry operations can receive an evaporation credit from the water company, usually a percentage based on simple evaporation within the facility. By metering both incoming and outgoing water, you will be able to show that percentage.
Having production and utility benchmarks gives you targets for improvement that will help to make you a better manager. You can measure numerous areas within your operation. Start here and see what you learn.Equipment/Supplies Distribution: Donnie Weiland, Tingue, Brown & Co., Alvin, Texas
An old, common-sense business proverb states, “If your outgo exceeds your income, then your upkeep will be your downfall!”
[NP][/NP]Production is the engine that “makes” your business money. If maintenance has not, cannot or will not keep the equipment in good repair, your production has a wonderful chance at failure. If management fails to plan, train, record, monitor or follow through properly on production techniques and procedures, the chances of failure are magnified substantially.
All laundries have the same reason for keeping records — to provide management with the necessary information to run the business.
Here are some records you may want to keep:

  • Who are your employees?

  • What are their job descriptions?
  • Are your employees’ abilities matched to their tasks?
  • How many hours do they work?
  • What are your tardiness/absenteeism philosophies, and do your employees know them?
  • What are they trained/cross-trained on?
  • Do your trainers do their job properly?
  • What are the standards?
  • How much work (pieces per hour) is accomplished?
  • Do they know their actual results?
  • How much time is lost and for what reason?
  • Are the machines and procedures safe?
  • What are your employees’ thoughts for improvement?
  • How do your employees compare with others in the industry?
  • Do you track equipment downtime?
  • Do you track accidents and reasons for accidents?
  • Are your employees challenged to improve?
  • Do you have backup plans in cases of utility failures?
  • Do you keep a regimented preventive-maintenance schedule?
  • Do you provide maintenance with enough “shelf stock”?

Click here for Part 1 of this story.Click here for Part 3 of this story.


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