Outsourcing: A Laundry List of Rewards
Weigh the pros (and cons) of in-house and outsourced linen services to determine the best option.
Laundry is one of the most important functions in a hotel and it is often the subject of great debate. There are those who purport on-premises operations provide the best service while others believe outsourcing laundry is the better bet. Here’s how the two stack up.
Bringing Laundry In-House
Handling laundry on-site provides greater control over the timing of washing and delivery, which results in a faster turnaround time of linen. A hotel can also determine the order of items to be washed and processed, as well as when they are to be laundered, and even run laundry operations 24-hours, if required, which is not always possible if outsourced. As an added benefit, a hotel can carry a lower linen par level if laundering in-house since it does not have to take delivery and laundry time into account, as is the case with outsourced operations; however, this creates other challenges such as more frequent replacement of linen.
On the downside, laundering in-house includes equipment maintenance and capital replacement, which can be costly. It is also often more labour intensive and expensive to run laundry operations due to lack of automation. Overtime costs can be significant during high hotel occupancy or equipment breakdown. If equipment does breakdown, it can wreak havoc very quickly because many on-site laundry facilities only have one or two of each piece of equipment. Lower par levels, which are common with on-premises laundry, also lead to more frequent linen replacement, resulting in higher costs over time.
When compared to in-house laundry, outsourcing provides reduced capital expenditures, reduced labour costs, and a reduction in maintenance and utility costs, the latter of which is typically significant with on-site operations. Additionally, outsourcing allows hotels to focus on core competencies instead of issues associated with operating a laundry facility. It also offers the opportunity to partner with companies that have the latest equipment and wash formulas to ensure linen life is maximized. Most external laundry service providers have redundancy in equipment (many of the same equipment to increase reliability) in case one machine needs to be repaired, so processing is not affected, too.
The drawbacks of outsourcing include lack of control over laundry operations and having to wait the 24-hour turnaround time for linen. Since a hotel doesn’t control the timing of washing and delivery, it also needs to increase the par level of its linen inventory, which costs more in the short-term.
The Hiring Process
If a hotel determines outsourcing is the best option for their operations, it should consider the location of the external laundry service provider to ensure deliveries can be made in a timely manner, the size of the provider’s fleet and whether it can accommodate the hotel loading docks. Hours of operation, turnaround time (24 hours or less) and delivery time are also important. Evening or early morning delivery is usually best to ensure all soiled linen is picked up and returned within 24 hours.
Before signing a contract, hotel management should tour the external laundry service facility. Inspect equipment and take stock of the number of each piece of equipment to ensure breakdown won’t hamper operations. Find out what type of preventive maintenance program is in place and the quality control measures employed to ensure health, hygiene and safety.
Once a contract is in hand, review before signing. The contract should include items such as delivery and pickup times, rewash protocols, damaged or unusable linen protocols, and sorting protocols for pickup and delivery.
Mixing it Up
There are instances when a blend of both (on-premises and off-site laundry) may be the best option. For instance, there are advantages to sourcing out high volume items such as sheets, towels, bathmats and face cloths, and then internally laundering specialty items such as shower curtains or low par level items. The specialty items can be handled with more care on-site than at an external laundry service facility. Usually these items require special handling and are more expensive to outsource for cleaning. | CFM&D
Rocco Romeo is CEO of Ottawa-based HLS Linen Services. Established in 1974, HLS has expanded its commercial laundry and linen service across Ontario to include Kingston, Belleville and Toronto, as well as western Quebec. Rocco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September/October 2019 CFM&D 21
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