Linen Management & Customer Service: Learning Partners

When linens are not managed correctly within the textile industry, a lot of problems may arise: linen shortages and loss leading to customer dissatisfaction, rushed deliveries from the laundry or excessive rewashes, shortened linen life, and consequently, a substantial rise in cost.

Although cost is important, linen providers that excel in customer service, quality of textiles and value added services are in higher demand than ever. Value is determined by service, quality and cost working together; focusing on cost alone often results in the lowest value. Laundries could help their customers understand textile management and performance. For instance, while hospitals are experts in patient care, they are no experts on textiles. Their average awareness of the linens is limited to its immediate use before it is tossed into the laundry bin.

Wilma Johnston, of Maple Springs Laundry: “Many distribution managers have never been in a commercial laundry and do not understand the actual laundry process. I always encourage my customers to visit the laundry to fully appreciate the laundry/linen distribution cycle.” In general it might be useful for laundry services to conduct a thorough linen study and ask the customer certain questions to better understand how a facility uses its linen, such as: What is the hospital’s bed changing policy? Do they change beds daily or do they do a “bed refresh” as needed? How are incontinence pads used? Are they using them only for incontinent patients or for lifting patients? Do you put a draw sheet on every bed?

At the same time such a study might be a good opportunity for education. It will show if education about proper use is necessary. For instance, what is being done with heavily saturated linens? Does the staff throw them away or put them in the red bag? All in all, there is a great deal to be learned from doing a linen study within the facilities of your clients.