Many organizations with onsite laundry facilities face a choice between continuing with the onsite process and outsourcing to a commercial laundry. Outsourcing laundry is becoming an attractive alternative due to the potential to save money. Companies that are determining whether to close the onsite facility in favor of a contractor can make the determination by doing a thorough cost analysis.
Before sending the laundry out to a cleaner, several cost factors should be weighed against the cost of the contracted services. The following costs should be considered:
- Equipment acquisition, maintenance and repairs. This includes any costs related to the installation of the equipment.
- Utilities including electricity, gas, water and sewer.
- Space utilization. The space used for an onsite laundry facility could be turned into a revenue generating space.
Considering Non-Direct Costs
Non-direct costs such as administrative and payroll should be considered in the analysis as well. Weighing the pros and cons of a commercial cleaning service includes determining the time employees use to process the cleaning. Some organizations take the approach that once a washer and dryer have been installed, the laundry is free. In addition, a supervisor’s time and payroll should be added to the calculations. A manager spends time coordinating the onsite laundry activities as well as training, monitoring and maintaining staffing for the service.
Specific Industry Standards
A quick cost analysis may compare the cost to utilize a third party cleaner against the price of the laundry equipment, labor and detergent. However, this may be inadequate to assist in making the decision. In addition to costs, other factors can be critical in determining whether to outsource laundry. Another issue to consider is the ability of the contractor to meet minimum standards of hygiene. Infection control is a crucial factor especially for hospitals, restaurants and hotels.
Outsourcing as a Cost Effective Solution
For smaller organizations, processing their own laundry may prove to the most cost effective solution. However, for large organizations outsourcing to a commercial cleaner makes sense. Two options exist for outsourcing to a laundry. A company can purchase their own linens and have them laundered, or they can use a linen rental service that provides the linens and the cleaning. Many linen rental companies will purchase industry specific linens and uniforms to keep a full inventory. This includes custom apparel such as monogrammed laboratory coats, scrubs and uniforms.
What to Look For in a Commercial Laundry
If considering a commercial cleaner, hospitals, hotels and restaurants should interview several laundries to ensure they understand the cleanliness requirements for those industries. Hospitals and other healthcare providers should pay particular attention to this detail. A commercial laundry should have documented procedures and policies for handling health industry linens. This includes proper protocol for handling laundry with possible blood-borne pathogens. Not all commercial laundry providers have the necessary processes in place to take in health care linens. Membership in an industry specific trade association can be a good signal. The Textile Rental Service Association (TRSA) offers training seminars for members to stay current on healthcare industry laundering standards.
Organizations that are considering outsourcing laundry should look for the following in a commercial laundry:
- Produce clean linens of high quality.
- Have a large selection of inventory.
- Have industry specific products.
- Correct inventory shortages quickly.
- Provide a selection of delivery and pick-up options.
- Have invoices that are easy to read and understand.
- Have no upfront or continuing fees to maintain the service’s inventory.
- Have excellent communication with clients.
- Provide printed procedures and protocols to clients.
The document that details procedures and protocols should show that the commercial laundry complies with government standards dealing with blood-borne pathogens. The regulatory agencies conduct surveys and site visits to ensure the contractor follows proper procedures.
In addition to providing cleaning services, many linen rental services can recommend improvements to inventory management and shortage control. This will further reduce the laundry expense.
Maintaining an on-site facility or outsourcing the cleaning can be a matter of preference. However, many companies will find that outsourcing reduces the costs related to laundry. On-site facilities take a long-term financial commitment. However, some organizations prefer to control the quality of cleanliness. However, some companies see this decision as only about the bottom line, and outsourcing to a commercial laundry has significant potential of save money.
Terry Etherton owns and operates Laundry Express, providing door to door laundry services and linen hire across Perth, Western Australia.