Linen rental is not only a trend that has been much talked about in the Middle East, but it has, to a large extent, helped hotels provide a very long and sustainable service option. However, there are a lot of misconceptions created around linen leasing. In a recent interview, during the Laundry Talkathon, Anil Shah, Senior Manager with Linencraft debunked 4 common misconceptions in linen rentals.
MYTH 1: Linen rental is too expensive
Often, business owners are concerned about the cost factor when hiring a linen rental, or laundry service. However, the fact is that running an in-house laundry is often much costlier. You would need to purchase products, equipment and chemicals. You would also need to incur the additional costs of hiring and training staff to properly and effectively clean and prepare your linens. The expense and time required just to set up and efficiently operate in-house laundry can easily be allocated to other aspects of your business if you choose linen rental.
“I would say that linen rental is not expensive. At the same time, I would like to give some background to my statement. Most industries would like to focus on their core functions. When it comes to hospitality, the main function is to make sure that guests are looked after well and they have been given the right services, products and standards based on the facility’s benchmarks. In doing so, there are many such activities that may not be related to the core function. There are many activities that are not related to the knowledge base of individual hotels. In spite of that, they still need to engage in those activities. Each of these activities has a cost to it. Irrespective of whether we are able to calculate that cost or not, the cost is there,” says Anil.
Anil believes that post pandemic, every business is trying to revisit its activities and costs. If hotels are to sell their rooms with the right presentation while also providing services to their guests (including the right presentation of linen in the room) day after day, the housekeeping typically needs to be doing it. “I am sure that financial controllers, general managers and housekeepers also know how difficult or easy it is to maintain par level at their hotel. Maintaining par level, making sure the first in first out, making sure linen is available to their room attendants at the right time so that they can focus on the presentation part of it. In order to do so, several factors must be considered:
- Buying the right amount of linen.
- Taking regular inventories (including frequency, accuracy, supply chain, etc)
- Buying the right quality of linen, which requires a certain level of expertise.
After all these factors are taken into consideration, I believe that it is better to leave these non-core activities to the experts who have been able to do that in the right way,” says Anil.
A professional laundry service knows exactly how to process that linen in the right way - whether it is in terms of material, right construction, right stitching. If there is a company which can provide on-time and required quantity of linen, the housekeeping can focus on its core activities.
When linen leasing or rental price is compared, it is to be evaluated against linen replacement cost as a total. When laundry companies or any rental companies work, they have the efficiency to process it in the right way. They also have better pricing than what hotels can secure. So overall, it turns out to be a profitable equation for both the laundry/ rental companies and the hotels.
We also have to consider that not a lot of linen is being manufactured in the Middle East. We depend on other places to get the linen in. During peak seasons i.e. when the hotel business starts picking up, there arises the difficulty of linen not being sufficient. Mostly, the linen arrives when the demand is not very high. So we have to be able to spread the linen expense throughout the year. This is another factor where linen rental can be of benefit.
MYTH 2: It is more sustainable to have in-house linen
Typically, when it comes to sustainability, we consider energy savings, but we have to consider sustainability in its totality. In terms of linen, we can say that sustainability is achieved when linen is available when it matters. In case, you don’t have sufficient linen, you have a better turn around in order to manage it. Another factor to be considered is flexibility - flexibility in terms of any such incident where you need linen. At that time, you should have the resources to make it happen and handle the situation. This is what we call sustainability in terms of linen. There is a common perception that when you have your own linen, this will all be manageable with the right or desired output.
When the question of sustainability comes, there are many procedures that are not being maintained, leading to certain situations. Let’s talk about having sufficient stock when it is needed, and at the same time, the linen leasing process and then conclude with which one is more sustainable.
Everyday, a call goes from housekeeping to the company, stating the requirements for linen. The next day, all of the requirements are delivered to the hotel premises. If this is the business case, then there is no question of having the first case where you don’t have enough items available to room attendants to provide the service.
Coming towards the second scenario, where you can manage with short supplies. It could be that the amount of linen was not sufficient or you ended up asking for less linen. There is always a possibility of calling the rental company for additional requirements and they will be matched because they have additional stock.
In terms of flexibility, if any day you have a shortage of linen due to excessive checkouts, you can count on rental companies to provide the extras. So the whole perception of sustainability just goes the other way round. It is managing structured and more professional efforts.
MYTH 3: Tracking the linen will be challenging
When it comes to tracking linen, it is always a balance between what exactly our objective is. You can have 100% tracking, but there will be a cost attributed to it manually. There are also a lot of technologies available (e.g. RFID technology), but they also come with a cost. In the former technique, a lot of mistakes and errors can happen. In the latter technique (which was adopted by the U.S and the U.K first), the cost has become affordable, but certain accuracy issues still remain. You could say they have a 95% - 100% accuracy rate, depending on your investment. Whether these activities are actually helping to add any value or if the two parties can mutually agree to the accuracy percentage rate, RFID could be the best technology to invest in.
MYTH 4: The linen rented out can be matched with the standards of the hotel
Now, it is time that people have to think of the best way to run their businesses. Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to this because it is about the hotel’s brand standards. It also depends upon the size of the hotel and whether they can negotiate their brand standards or not. So it entirely depends upon the hotel because they can best weigh their brand standards and costs. However, the hotels can actually discuss the possibilities with linen rental companies.
With that, we have debunked some common myths about linen rental. It is time hotels and even other facilities revisit their stance on renting and leasing linen so their teams can focus on their core functions - hospitality.