11 Questions to ask when selecting your commercial laundry supplier.
Fed up of your existing laundry provider or seeking respite from having to tackle the laundry pile yourselves?
Whatever your reasons for exploring potential suppliers, you want to make sure you pick the right one as depending on your requirements you might be spending hundreds or thousands of pounds with them on an annual basis.
How do you judge which supplier will give you the best quality and not frustrate you with poor quality or late deliveries? How do you know which laundry provider will be there for you in a moment of need when an unexpected situation occurs?
With so many options available from national sized organisations to more local outfits, selecting a commercial laundry supplier can be a difficult choice. With that in mind we’ve pulled together 11 questions we think will help with your decision-making, hopefully helping you to reduce your current laundry
11 Questions to ask when choosing a Commercial Laundry Supplier.
#1 How much will it cost?
As it is always first and front of mind, it is best to get the topic out in the open. Firstly so that you can decide if you can afford it, but also secondly so that you can use it as a comparable metric with other potential suppliers.
Being upfront from the outset will allow both parties to be transparent, and make way for open conversation based around service delivery, without feeling like there might be hidden costs.
#2 What is included in the service delivery
Different suppliers will price laundry provision differently. Are you hiring stock from them, or asking them to launder your own items? Get specifics laid down in simple terms so that you can ensure that the proposed contract is clearly understood.
All too often we hear about people who have misunderstood their agreement and ended up with a far larger bill than they had expected.
#3 What charges are in place for lost or damaged hired stock?
If you are hiring stock such as tablecloths from a laundry supplier it is normal to be charged for damaged or lost items. I have seen these get ridiculously out at hand. Don’t shrug it off like it will not happen, it is part of the norm and if you are talking about large numbers such as a wedding or corporate function you may be talking a few items at each event. Remember, your ad hoc staff will not care as much as you about these items – It’s more than likely one or two might even end up in the bin or used inappropriately as a dishcloth in the kitchen.
TIP – Make someone accountable within your company for hired stock whether that is per event or per pick up.
# 4 How often will they pick up /drop off?
Depending on your requirements a twice weekly pick up might not suit your needs. Storage is often tight in factories and restaurants so you will not want a laundry pile being created. Can your potential laundry supplier come more often to meet your operational needs?
#5 Are there any hidden charges?
Make sure to enquire about any additional costs that could be incurred on top of the regular service fee such as delivery charges or an environmental charge.
National providers may have a facility located hundreds of miles away from your business location while local laundry oprators could be just round the corner. Don’t presume it will make little difference, this could be precious margins that you lose out on in your own business.
As for the environmental charge some suppliers use it as a way to recoup their high energy costs; usually charged as a percentage, it can be as high as 7%. This might not feel significant on an individual bill but if you take into consideration annual spend, this money could have been used elsewhere to promote your own business.
#6 How quickly can they respond at short notice?
You want to be working with a partner that clearly understands your business needs and can help you out in a moment of need. If you work in a hotel, it’s more than likely you’ve experienced that moment when the event booker has increased numbers last minute. In the heat of the moment, you want the reassurance that it is a simple call to your laundry provider to solve the linen requirements so that you don’t have to lose hours calling round other laundry suppliers or hotels on the scrounge.
#7 Who will be my point of contact?
Having a dedicated point of contact will allow you to build a relationship with the commercial laundry supplier, helping to iron out any initial teething issues and give you the reassurance that they are there for you.
In some cases it can feel like you sign an agreement at the start of the contract with the sales representative and are then lost to the web of an 0800 number; never again speaking to someone who understands your business.
Make sure you know who your point of contact will be, and the best way of accessing them.
#8 Are they contactable outside of Mon- Friday 9-5pm?
A lot of businesses now operate outside of the standard Monday- Friday 9-5pm. Laundry is also one of the tasks that is often sorted at the end of the day meaning that you can often be caught out by opening hours. How can you make contact with the office or booking team at the weekend if you need to place or make changes to orders?
#9 Is there a minimum monthly fee ?
Suppliers work in different ways, but some of the larger outfits may hold you to a minimum level of service per month. Make sure you ask your potential supplier and check their terms & conditions for any hidden clauses. You don’t want to be moving into the off-peak season and be facing unwanted bills.
#10 What are their payment terms?
Many commercial laundry suppliers will place an account on hold if payment is not made within a time limit. This is all well and good, but if you are a large scale business where financial payments need to go through various admin routes before being processed, this will cause issues at an operational level if this happens unannounced.
By asking about payment terms you can ensure that you can commit to them and make the various departments aware.
#11 Are they experienced? Can they provide references?
The best way to build trust with a potential supplier is to ask to speak to some of their current clients. This will give you an honest insight into their service delivery and how they have resolved any issues that may have arisen.
Don’t be shy in asking, we all know that if we have a great supplier we don’t mind singing their praises. Might also be worthwhile in checking out their social media feeds for reviews and testimonials.
Are they the right commercial laundry supplier for you?
If you are a manager or owner of a hotel, guest house, factory or restaurant it’s likely that laundry forms an element of your operational requirements.
When choosing your commercial laundry supplier it is not all about costs, although we appreciate it is one of the priorities. Take the time to find a partner that will work with you and fit into your operational needs rather than them pushing their framework onto you.
Any professional supplier will want to build a long term relationship with you and by asking these questions it will help you feel confident in your selection as well as make the process smoother for both parties.
What are your thoughts?
- Is there anything you wished you’d asked your laundry supplier first?
- What would make you feel more confident about your decision when selecting the right commercial laundry supplier?
We’d love it if you’d share your thoughts below and help others with their procurement process.