Every business needs to manage its costs in order to be profitable and keep its doors open. Hospitality businesses have several costs to keep track of and control, including linen costs. The cost of linens involves more than their purchase price or, in the case of many smaller hotels and restaurants, their rental costs.
Costs Associated with Linens
There are several costs that are associated with having linens for a hospitality business including the cost of laundering them, replacing old or missing linens, chemical costs if you have an onsite laundry, and labour costs to launder and fold linens. If your business does its own laundry, then there are also the costs associated with buying and maintaining equipment on the hotel’s property.
Equipment costs involve more than just the washers and dryers needed to wash and dry linens. They also involve water softeners, racks, hangers, clothes presses to remove wrinkles, folders, and scales to weigh loads. Along with these more obvious costs, there are also costs associated with doing business that may not always be taken into account.
When you have an on-site laundry, there are some costs that you may not track because they are considered the price you pay for doing business. These costs include:
- Water usage
- Water treatment costs
- Equipment maintenance
- Licences or permits
- Equipment depreciation
- Par levels
- Linen controls
- Environmental costs
- Space for laundry
Having a laundry on-site can be very expensive and add unnecessary costs, especially if you have a smaller hotel. Most of these costs can be eliminated by contracting with a company for linen hire, but you still need to control some of the costs to help your business make money.
Linen Hire Costs
One of the main costs that you eliminate when you decide on hiring linens for your business is capital expenditures. Buying the equipment for laundering linens can be expensive and if you have a small bed and breakfast or boutique hotel, you may not have the space needed for an on-site laundry. Not only do you need space for the equipment and for sorting and folding linens, but you also need storage space.
Once the linens have been laundered, pressed, and folded, they need to be placed in some sort of storage until they are needed. The storage area should be out of the way but convenient for employees to access when beds need to be made, towels are switched out in the guest bathrooms, and tables dressed for meal service. If your linen losses are high, then you may have a problem with guests or employees taking towels or robes home with them.
In order to lower your losses, you may need storage options that can be locked so that the inventory can be easily controlled to reduce thefts. Some losses are still going to occur because it is difficult to stop guests from taking towels or robes, plus linens get food stains, makeup, and chemical stains on them that can ruin them. The linen company you hire will automatically replace stained and worn linens when they’re laundered so you don’t have to worry about them being placed in your guest rooms.
Even though you will still have water usage costs, they will not be as high as they would be if you had to do laundry for your business. Water usage and the charges associated with that usage are significant when you launder linens on-site. It can be difficult to control that cost since during the peak season, you will be washing linens more frequently because all of your rooms may be booked and you will need to ensure you have clean linens to keep up with guests’ needs.
Along with the charges for water and water treatment, more companies are trying to use greener cleaning methods to keep toxic chemicals out of the water system. Your business may have to pay additional charges for water recycling that filters out chemicals before the water goes back into the public system. By hiring a linen service, most of those costs are eliminated, giving you another way to cut costs for your company.
Per Room Costs
When you hire a linen service, you will have the benefit of a “pay as you go” system instead of a fixed price system that you would have if linens are laundered on-site. This allows you to match your linen costs with the revenue that is made from selling a room, which is especially important during the low season when fewer rooms are sold. When you set your budget, you will be able to set your linen costs according to business expectations per season.
Another expenditure that can be virtually eliminated are the costs of labour that is needed when laundering linens. If you have a small bed and breakfast or hotel, you don’t have to assign an employee to laundry duty for the day during your peak season or you won’t have to stay late at night making sure linens are ready for the next day. It also eliminates the need to hire additional employees for laundering linens during the peak season when you use a linen service.
The linen service you work with will be able to increase or decrease your order frequency and linen amounts as necessary during your off or peak seasons. Some services give you the option of paying on a month by month basis, so if you are closed during your off season, you can cancel the orders until you open your doors again. Then, during the peak season, you can increase your deliveries so the linens in your guest rooms are also fresh and clean.
By hiring a linen service, you can eliminate most of the costs associated with doing laundry at your business. There is no need to buy laundry equipment or maintain an inventory of laundry chemicals and your water usage costs will be significantly lower. By saving and/or eliminating these costs, your business will make better money.