The hospitality industry has many choices when it comes to laundry services at properties. For this reason, it is more important than ever to stay on top of best practices available when providing laundry services in the hospitality industry. Following certain principles can help laundry services remain cost effective and in control over service.
Circulating Linen Inventory
An adequate amount of linen must be maintained as an essential prerequisite to the achievement of high levels of productivity and low operating cost. Whenever inventory is allowed to fall to inadequate levels, laundry performance declines and operating expenses increase typically by far more than what may be saved via delayed or avoided replacement purchases. Linen quality and guest satisfaction also deteriorate. To achieve the objective of maintaining an adequate amount of linen, management should:
- Determine proper par levels (for all divisions)
- Perform a physical linen inventory on a regular basis
- Replenish the circulating inventory to par
- Adjust pars or issue new goods whenever established delivery quotas cannot be met
- Keep track of new issues, losses and discards, and account for these on your report
To operate the laundry services efficiently, a system must be instituted that uses occupancy forecasts to pre-plan production so that swings in the weekly task can be predicted and provided for via adjustments to the operating schedule (to keep productivity high and payroll costs low).
Production standards for each workstation and for each employee (or in some cases, teams of employees) should be established and monitored by management. As the laundry employees meet standards, at least some targets should be revised upwards as part of continual improvement. A production monitoring system managed on a spreadsheet can be used to record and assess production statistics, and a dry-ink board placed at a strategic location can be used to keep employees apprised of their performances.
To detect and remove items that do not meet standards, implement a twopart quality control program whereby (1) items found to be damaged or stained are set aside in separate containers for subsequent rewash, stain reclamation, repair or discard, and (2) items found to be unserviceable (by housekeepers) at the point of use are set aside for return to and treatment by the Laundry.
Production standards for each workstation and for each employee (or in some cases, teams of employees) should be established and monitored by management
Soiled Linen Collection, Storage and Sorting
In order to assure that soiled linen is transported to the Laundry in a timely fashion, soiled linen should not be allowed to accumulate anywhere on the property. Following their collection, items should be sorted according to their classification and designed formulae.
Washing, Pre-Conditioning and Drying
- Always wash with full loads
- Assure an average of one full load per washer per hour
- Unload a finished cycle and reload the washer promptly—do not sort out of machines
- When possible, pre-condition flat goods and wet-washed uniforms for 5-10 minutes to improve ironing, finishing rates and quality
- Do not over-dry terry goods— these should have a soft and fluffy feel after drying
- Do not sort out of dryers— unload and reload them promptly, and then sort dried or conditioned items for final finishing
- Do not accumulate dried terry goods—fold them as soon as possible to reduce wrinkling
- Monitor the weight of stain reclamation and rewash work that should be no more than about 2-3% of the total workload
- Accumulate flat goods until there is enough to keep the ironer running at high speed for an hour or two; then, fully staff the
ironer to process goods at the best possible rates consistent with high quality; afterwards, shut the ironer down
- Where feasible, assign a single operator to remove stacks of finished goods from both the ironer and towel folder
- Feed small flat pieces using 4 – 5 operators, and receive finished items using 1 – 2 operators (in smaller laundries, this standard may not be practical)
- Instruct operators to remain aware of the mechanical condition of the finishing equipment and to immediately report any suspected deficiency
- Keep a careful, accurate record of finished pieces; use this record to measure productivity and to determine the workload; relate workload to occupancy for production planning and scheduling purposes
- Practice the art of dynamic job assignment in the finishing area; move employees from station to station as the work-in-progress demands; keep them at work and productive
Maintenance and Housekeeping
- Keep the laundry clean and organized
- Determine with maintenance staff which areas or surfaces may be cleaned by laundry personnel and which must be cleaned by mechanics due to reasons of safety
- Assure that all equipment continues to operate effectively and report maintenance requirements to the Engineering department immediately—being proactive in this area is crucial
- Assure that all equipment access panels and covers remain safely installed
- Conduct a safety inspection on a regular basis, using a checklist developed specifically for this purpose
Following these principles can help laundry services function successfully and smoothly. Without these elements in place, guest satisfaction can decline, forcing hotel management to look for new methods to enhance the provided laundry services so that customers’ experiences will improve and the hotel’s reputation will not suffer.
By Steve Miller, Vice President and General Manager, Victor Kramer Company