Business respondents to TRSA’s 2015 laundry customer survey mapped the road ahead for textile services sales (and resales) by identifying products the industry sells but customers procure from other sources: retail or another service provider. Naturally, the industry’s share is largest for core linen and garment products. Even for some of these, though, textile services don’t dominate as much as you might think, suggesting the industry might do better with them.
Products for which customers (existing users of these items) choose a source other than a launderer close to 50% or more of the time, in order of increasing opportunity for the industry, include:
- Food and Beverage: Wet mops, cleaning chemicals, front of the house uniforms, restroom services/products, air fresheners, grill pads, hand sanitizer, cleaning chemicals, kitchen mats, wet mops
- Healthcare: Microfiber towels, surgical towels, linen napkins, isolation gowns, incontinent pads
- Hospitality: The industry’s mat share was 22%. No other item approached that level, reflecting the dominance of on-premises laundries
- Industrial: The industry’s uniform share was 54%; mats, 42%. No other product reached 30% penetration.
The survey’s findings on core products suggested avenues launderers will likely follow in 2016 to boost these product sales, including:
- Talk to healthcare providers about how work garment rental affects patient satisfaction. Nearly seven of 10 consumers surveyed indicated they are concerned about seeing scrubs and other medical uniforms outside of a healthcare facility, according to TRSA’s National Consumer Survey. Yet nearly half of all healthcare workers clean their uniforms at home.
- Promote hospitality service. One in three hotels report a preference for outsourcing linen services but cannot locate a textile services provider.
- Discuss tablecloth economics. Fifty-seven percent of the most affluent and frequent diners prefer restaurants using table linens and would pay more for meals at these restaurants that use them. But most mid-scale and more upscale restaurateurs prefer to invest in attractive tables as opposed to covering less expensive ones with tablecloths.
ADI’s Kallenbach sees overwhelming demand for training sales and service personnel to address such matters. With 12 years as a launderer and 25 as a supplier, operators’ interest in outside expertise has exploded, particularly as the economy has recovered. “When I started, the industry wasn’t into consultants. It was a bad word,” he recalls. But as suppliers began to offer value-added training with their product sales, operators were greatly incentivized to take advantage.
Today he does 50 seminars a year and other ADI colleagues also train. “Now it’s a foregone conclusion you can find a resource to train your people. Most operators are open because most of them see an opportunity to grow or they realize they really need training. Their business has become so much bigger than they ever though it would be.”
TRSA supports such expansion through training sales and service management at the Ehrlich-Stempler Executive Management Institute each August. These managers continue to face pressure to increase productivity and reduce cost. That requires them to be more effective with group problem-solving and decision-making and become more savvy in managing multicultural work environments and communication driven by social and mobile media. EMI brings them up to speed on these as they share everyday problems, successes and failures with each other and develop professional networks with industry colleagues.
For more on how the Internet continues to change how the industry sells, read the observations of Infinite Laundry’s Jeff Wile in the August Textile Services.