Opening a hospitality business such as a restaurant or café is risky, as many of them fail within three years. Controlling costs is the best way to keep your business from failing. Restaurants have many costs, including linen supplies for their kitchen and front of house, and renting instead of buying linens is one way to control these costs.
Reasons to Rent Linens
There are several reasons why you should consider hiring a linen service to supply the linen needs of your business instead of buying what is needed for your restaurant.
Increased Operating Expenses
If you buy linens for your restaurant, there are many costs you will need to consider, including operating costs. By buying linens, the responsibility of keeping them cleaned and pressed will be on the restaurant’s owners and managers. It will require having a small laundry on-site or taking the linens to a nearby by laundromat to be washed, dried and pressed.
Along with needing to purchase equipment, such as a washer, dryer, and at least a handheld iron, space will need to be made for this equipment. In some buildings, it may not be possible to house the proper laundry equipment. And even if there is space, you may need to have the proper wiring added to run a washer and dryer.
Water and Electric Usage
Your energy usage will go up when you do laundry on-site, as a washer will use a great deal of water and electricity. Depending on the day of the week, you could be kept busy washing linens throughout the entire day just to keep up with demand! The weekends are generally busier than weekdays, so Friday through Sunday, you will generally use more tablecloths, napkins, kitchen towels, aprons and other linens, which could require the need for continuous laundering.
Cleaning supplies like detergent, starch, and stain remover will also be needed to clean everything. The appearance of your linens is important, since they are usually the first thing a customer sees when they sit at a table. If you own a fine dining establishment, your linens are probably white. This means the tablecloths and napkins need to be in good repair, perfectly pressed, and immaculately clean.
If your linens look dingy or have stains or tears on them, your customers are not going to be impressed, and they may wonder about what else about your restaurant is subpar. The wait staff, servers, and kitchen staff need to look neat and clean as well. While some food stains are to be expected, having dingy, stained aprons and towels isn’t acceptable.
Increased Staff Costs
Of course, if there is a laundry on-site, you will need staff to keep up with its demands. This could mean hiring someone full-time on weekends to keep up with demand, which will increase your staff costs. They may need to stay late or come in early to maintain supplies, so the expense of paying their salary could easily overwhelm your staffing budget.
Reduce Costs by Renting
Fortunately, your restaurant can save on these costs by hiring a linen service to supply all your needs for the front and back of house. They can help keep your costs under control, because you won’t need a dedicated staff for laundering linens, you won’t need laundry equipment or chemicals on-site, and your energy costs will not increase.
When choosing a linen service for your business, don’t be afraid to try to negotiate the rates they give you for their service. Some companies may try to charge an inventory charge, which you should try to avoid. An inventory charge is a fee that linen services charge for keeping your shelves stocked and having the linens you need on-hand, even when you don’t use them.
Look for Flexibility
In addition, you need to find a service that is flexible because you won’t always need the same order quantities each week. During the winter holiday season, your business may increase because people are entertaining and shopping more, so they will go out for dinner more often, and your orders will need to increase. And if business slows down in the summer, you will want a linen service that is flexible enough to adjust your orders when necessary.
As linens start to wear out or kitchen towels become stained or torn, the table linen rental company will automatically replace them. They also know how to get rid of most stains on linens, so everything you receive from them should be in pristine condition. If not, you should be able to contact them and have linens replaced as needed, so that the tables and your staff look sharp every night.
If you decide to change linen colours for the holidays, you will need a service which offers a variety of linen supplies. Most linen services offer a variety of colours, textures, and styles to accommodate the demands of their various customers in the hospitality industry. If they don’t have what you want in stock, they should be able to order it for you and take care of the stock as needed.
Online Account Management
The linen service you choose should have all your account information online so you can go over it as you’re taking care of your books. Online or automatic payments will also make it much easier on your bookkeeper to make sure the bill is paid every month. Most companies assign a dedicated account manager to each client so there will always be someone with whom you can discuss any account or order issues.
Avoid Contract Commitments
Many linen suppliers will try to get you to commit to a six or 12-month contract, but you can find services which allow month-to-month commitments. Not having a contract allows you to try a service and stop using it if you are not satisfied with their results. Then, if you can negotiate a favourable price, you can lock in the commitment by signing a contract with the company who meets your standards and requirements.
Renting linens for your restaurant offers many benefits which you cannot overlook, such as controlling costs and providing the pristine linens needed to impress your customers.