Processing linens in-house isn’t right for every operation. For some it makes more sense to outsource this aspect to another vendor. Before signing a contract with a vendor, Chuck Shipp, president, Shipp Cleaning Systems, Conyers, Ga., and Jason Davis, general manager, Signature Party Rentals, Santa Ana, Calif., recommend that you take the time needed to do your homework and ask the right questions.
Both say the first step is to tour the operation that will be responsible for processing your linens.
“By touring the facility, you can understand and put your eyes on who you are going to put your trust in for their laundry service,” Davis says. “Then make sure and get referrals from the operation’s clients who are using their laundry service. Get feedback on what is the turnaround time. Every day that is delayed is a day that is taking you away from that rental opportunity.”
Touring also allows a firsthand inspection of the equipment. “You want to see what type of equipment they have,” Shipp says.
“See if their facility is clean and whether their machines are in good working order,” Davis adds. “Do they have machines out of service? If their equipment is older and worn, that may lead to breakdowns and delayed service. All can impact you.”
Both say to ask about turnaround time, even during emergencies.
“You need to make sure they can meet the volume demand you have,” Davis says. “How many linens do you need processed and by when? Do you have 500 linens a week or 5,000 linens a week? Be honest with what they should expect in that volume. Can they meet the increases during seasonal demands?” he says.
“If you bring in laundry and need it washed today and back in your hands by Wednesday, can they accommodate that?” Shipp says.
A critical factor is whether they understand your industry and if they know how to take care of stains, both Shipp and Davis say.
“Make sure they understand how to get rid of grease, candle wax, oil, makeup and other stains. Make sure they understand correct spotting techniques so you can get your linens back promptly and cleaned properly,” Shipp says.
The bottom line is finding a partner who reflects your business’s commitment to your clients, Davis notes. “If your core value is quality, you have to make sure they adhere to that. If it is availability, you have to make sure the turnaround time is considered in there. If you are a price-sensitive rental company, then you have to make sure your vendor is price-sensitive with respect to you. Chemical costs have gone up, so you need to ask about how they deal with those costs,” he says.
Shipp agrees. “It is a symbiotic relationship. You have to find that right fit. You are depending on them to do the service so you can run your business properly,” he says.