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The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Hotel Laundry Services

In the hospitality industry, efficient laundry services are a major consideration. Hotels have two main options when it comes to laundry. They can either wash linens in-house or outsource services to a commercial laundry facility. Some hotels may prefer to manage laundry in house to maintain control over washing techniques and chemicals used. Other hotels may prefer to outsource laundry to improve efficiency and take advantage of pay-as-you-go services.

All facilities are different, so it’s important to weigh your options when it comes to your organization’s laundry needs. Is outsourcing laundry right for you? Here are a few pros and cons to help you decide.

PRO: You’ll save significant money on laundry-related costs.

Hotels that outsource laundry services can realize savings in multiple ways. No on-site laundry means minimal detergent costs and laundry electricity bills. Hotels are more likely to avoid costly workers’ compensation claims and remove risks of laundry chemical spills. And lastly, outsourcing laundry can reduce housekeeping labor costs. Did you know that labor can represent up to half of a hotel’s laundry operating costs? In cities where minimum wage is $15 or more, outsourcing laundry services can save a facility quite a bit of money.

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CON: Outsourced laundry cannot be washed instantly, if needed.

Typically, commercial laundry services will have linens washed, processed and sent back to a hotel within 24 hours. However, without on-site laundry, housekeepers have no way of washing soiled linens instantly. Instead, they must wait for a pickup service to arrive. As a result, on-site laundry can be especially convenient for washing stained items right away before stains can set in. Providing coin-operated laundry machines can also be a big convenience for guests. Giving guests the opportunity to do their own laundry can boost satisfaction rates and give housekeepers more time to complete other necessary tasks during their day.

PRO: You’ll eliminate pricey equipment purchases and maintenance.

It’s no secret that purchasing boilers, dryers and industrial-sized washing machines is a massive cost for a facility. Keeping laundry machines in working order is critical to the success of a hotel. Commercial laundry machines are often in constant operation throughout the day, only stopping as laundry workers load and unload them. Constant operation can take its toll, which means regular maintenance and pricey fixes of these machines. By outsourcing laundry, your hotel can eliminate expensive investment risks and reduce money spent on preventative maintenance and equipment upkeep. 

CON: Outsourcing laundry requires having backup linen inventory.

When soiled linens are sent off to a commercial laundry service, hotels need to have additional sets on hand to compensate for missing bedding, towels, cloth napkins and tablecloths. Having a backup of all these items can be expensive and take up useful storage space. Some facilities may argue that purchasing backup linens is cost-effective due to money saved by outsourcing laundry. However, this may not be the case for all hotels. 

PRO: Getting rid of on-site laundry means more useful space for your facility.

Owners and developers of new hotels are beginning to dedicate more space to revenue-generating areas, like guests rooms, meeting spaces, pools and other guest amenities. On the other hand, this also means less space for non-revenue generating areas, like laundry and linen storage. In some cases, on-site laundry services are seen as an unnecessary expense and may be excluded from building plans all together. By outsourcing your facility’s laundry services, you’ll be able to convert valuable laundry space to maintenance offices or inventory storage. 

CON: Outsourcing laundry can be an unrealistic expense for smaller hotels.

For small hotels, outsourcing laundry can be more expensive than washing linens in house. Outsourcing laundry can also be an issue for facilities in remote locations, as pickup and delivery schedules become more difficult. A better option for smaller hotels may be to lease laundry equipment from a company that provides as-needed repair work and an ongoing schedule of preventative maintenance. With training, a facility’s housekeeping staff can maintain control and consistency with laundry. They can ensure linens are laundered properly and take steps to limit water waste. Some hotels may choose to own their own equipment to avoid contractual agreements with outsourced laundry services.

Which laundry method works best for your facility?

Deciding whether or not to outsource your facility’s laundry is a big decision. To determine the best option, hotels should conduct a cost analysis to decide if off-site laundry would be more (or less) cost effective than on-site laundry. If outsourcing sounds like a good fit for your facility, start by researching commercial laundry companies in your area. Once you’ve chosen a partner, work with them to negotiate a contract, specify legal terms and articulate any requirements you may have.

If on-site laundry is a better fit for your facility, it’s wise to invest in high-efficiency laundry equipment and eco-friendly detergents. To learn more ways to “go green” in your hotel, download AkitaBox’s 2019 Guide to Hotel Maintenance and Management. In this comprehensive ebook, you’ll learn how to apply for sustainability incentives, maximize return on investment in your sustainable facility and much more. Get your free copy here!

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