Thanks to technology, changing customer expectations and shifts in the hospitality industry in general, the world of laundry for hotels is more complex than ever.
OPL hotels, or hotels with on property laundry, have to balance that complexity with the need to keep costs low and satisfaction high. You’ve set high standards for your property, and every aspect of your operations needs to keep up.
To help you prioritize the elements that matter most, here are five best practices in managing laundry for hotels.
Start with High-Quality Linens…
The finish line for well-managed laundry for hotels is customer satisfaction: You want guests to rave about your luxury hotel bedding, spa-quality bath towels and robes, and lounge-perfect pool towels.
The starting point for that journey is choosing your hotel linens carefully. Protecting and caring for high-quality textiles is much easier than trying to engineer your laundry operation to make up for poor materials.
Tips for selecting the right linens for your property include:
- Shopping around: Ask linen suppliers for specifications, including product durability data from properties of similar size to yours.
- Asking around: Don’t just take the suppliers’ words for it – reach out to other properties for feedback about product performance and wear and tear.
- Getting samples: Have a range of options on hand to choose from so you don’t have to go by memory alone.
…Paired with High-Tech Hotel Laundry Machines
You probably have a great deal of pride about your hotel laundry machines, and you should – they’re among the hardest working unsung heroes of your operation.
But if you’re considering upgrading your linens (see above) or expanding your guest room capacity, you may find that your trusty machines can no longer keep up with demand, in terms of quality or quantity.
Start by taking a careful look at your hotel laundry equipment list and deciding what stays and what goes. While replacing machines can be daunting – and expensive – it’s worth protecting the investment you’ve made in your high-quality linens with equally high-quality equipment.
When upgrading your commercial laundry machines, look for energy efficiency features such as washers with technology that enables you to use less cleaning chemicals and dryers with sensors that automatically stop machines to prevent overdrying.
While you’re at it, upgrades are also an opportunity to review whether your current commercial laundry detergent is up to the task of protecting your linens as well as the environment. If you haven’t already, consider switching to non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning chemicals as much as possible.
Remember that Machines Are Powered by People
Once you have luxurious linens and high-tech machines out of the way, that leaves just one more key part of the equation: well-prepared staff.
Thoughtfully preparing staff to excel in laundry for hotels is one of the best uses of your time and money. Prep can fall into two categories, OPL setup and staff training, and consists of activitities such as:
- Having enough gloves available.
- Making sure staff know how to position bins to avoid overextending themselves when moving piles of laundry in and out of the chute and machines.
- Choosing appliances with controls that are easy to use, saving time on training and everyday operations.
Staff are also your valuable eyes and ears for spotting stained or damaged linens, loose equipment on the chute that can cause tears and the need for maintenance and repairs.
Have Enough Pars on Hand
For properties that have fewer than the recommended number of pars on hand – it’s four, by the way – the reason cited most often is cost. They’re skating by with just the right number, so why spend the money to invest in more?
Because low par levels cost more money in the long run. Running short on pars means:
- You can’t turn rooms efficiently.
- It’s expensive to have labor waiting for laundry to be completed.
- It costs money to have labor returning to rooms they couldn’t properly turn the first time.
You’re also increasing the wear and tear on your linen stock by not giving it a chance to rest between uses. More back-to-back uses equals a shorter lifecycle and the need to buy replacements more often.
Why is four the magic par level number? Because it accounts for:
- 1 in use in the room
- 1 in the closet to be used next in the room
- 1 dirty that just came out of a room
- 1 in the laundry being washed
If you’re concerned about your par level management, there are steps you can take to get on track, starting with a linen par stock calculation for where you are now. Once you have that number, you’ll understand where you have gaps and need replacements.
You’ll also be able to gauge how often you need to do an inventory. Generally, that is every 60 to 90 days, and monthly during high seasons when you have more occupied rooms and more guests per room to burn through linens.
Leave it to the Professionals
Managing laundry for hotels well is absolutely worthwhile, especially given the impact on guest satisfaction. It’s also a lot to take on, from labor, to equipment, to inventory, not to mention that the costs are fixed so that your property ends up paying whether your rooms are occupied or not.
Outsourcing to a large-scale commercial laundry service can put your linens in the hands of people who handle literally tons of it every year. You won’t have to worry about shopping for high-tech equipment because they already have it. You can reclaim your existing laundry space for a new cafe, shop or expanded spa, transforming it into a revenue generator.
The right laundry service will have pay-as-you-go pricing that means you’ll only pay for occupied rooms. If you think you can do your laundry for less than a service, keep in mind all of your laundry-related costs, including:
- Gas, water and electricity
- Commercial laundry equipment maintenance and repairs
- Laundry machine depreciation
- Valuable real estate being occupied by your OPL operation
When it comes to hotel laundry best practices, the major theme is to aim high in terms of standards, quality and technology. And keep in mind that you don’t have to go it all alone if you partner with a commercial laundry service.