“To ensure that the laundry I manage is achieving top production on an ongoing basis, what records should I be keeping and why? Do you track anything out of the norm?”
Healthcare Laundry: Dianna Aracich, Wheeling Hospital, Wheeling, W.Va.
It would be easier to answer, “What don’t I keep records on?” I have documentation on poundage, cost per pound before and after revenue, proposed budgets vs. actual budgets, proposed revenue vs. actual revenue, chemical cost per pound, linen replacement cost, production hours worked, and the number of loads washed from as far back as 1981.
After becoming manager in 1995, I consolidated all the information I could find into easily accessed reports. I can explain every rise and fall between 1981 to present.
On many occasions in the past few years, I’ve had to look back and make comparisons when requested by our vice president and other administrative personnel. I’m not naive enough to think that I have not or will not be compared to an outside source, and this has been an immense help in protecting my department from outsourcing.
[NP][/NP]When asked to compare cost, budgets or poundage during your tenure or earlier, can you provide that information on short notice? My boss recently asked, right before going into a meeting, for some information comparing 2000 to 2009. It was no problem.
Monthly reports on most of these items are generated and forwarded to the appropriate personnel, including the vice president, accounting and decision support. Production and poundage reports are also generated every other week. Our vice president is involved in our operation, and he can answer any question concerning the department that may be put to him during senior staff meetings.
We track all linen usage — how much of each item is delivered and to whom — every day, as well as all new linen put into the system and worn linen that is removed. This information is entered into our linen management system, which generates monthly reports.
Everything produced on our finishing equipment, along with the operator’s name and results of the machine’s safety check, is recorded. This helps in determining production levels as well as maintaining equipment safety.
I record all department and individual meetings with staff. All employee information — attendance, tardiness, performance and even attitude — is documented. When I notice positive behavior, such as someone going above and beyond, volunteering when needed or just helping a co-worker, I jot it down. Any counseling or negative behavior is also addressed and recorded. I never rely on memory when it’s time for yearly evaluations. I can back up any decision.
No data is useless. If it is important enough for you to consider collecting, then it is important to someone, even if that someone is you.
About 10 years ago, I decided to purchase a home-style washer. I tracked the number of loads done in this little machine daily. I figured out how much money we saved by not running small, miscellaneous loads in our 85-pound washer.
I didn’t need to send a report or explain any of it to anyone, but when the machine stopped working a few years later, I had no problem getting a replacement plus a small dryer to go with it.
While it may appear that there is no time for anything but documentation, quite the opposite is true. Once reports for tracking data are created, the rest is simple.
Hotel/Motel/Resort Laundry: Charles Loelius, The Pierre New York, New York, N.Y.
What gets measured is what gets done. That frequently used quote attributed to management guru Peter Drucker is the mantra when discussing performance management. At Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, the catchphrase is What gets measured is what gets improved.
[NP][/NP]The fact of the matter is, however, that what gets measured doesn’t always get done; what gets measured only sometimes get improved. What does get done and what does get improved is what gets measured, analyzed and acted upon.
Most laundries today have solid tracking systems to monitor and record production, chemical usage, rewash, etc. The differences between those laundries that run well and those that do not are the processes in place to interpret the data and, most importantly, the mindset to take the appropriate action to improve efficiencies.
In our hotel laundry, we track the soil that is sorted and the loads that are washed and dried by the pound. All finished goods are tracked by the piece. All areas are tracked hourly. These numbers are used to measure the efficiencies of operators and equipment. They are posted for all operators to see, along with the appropriate target (standard).
Employees typically want to know where they stand relative to expectations, and each other. Since the employees have access to the same real-time information that I do, these postings serve as an excellent motivational tool.
In conjunction with daily production statistics, the number of occupied rooms and dining outlet covers are also tracked daily. This establishes pieces-per-occupied-room and pieces-per-cover ratios that facilitate proper scheduling and budgeting of labor.
For a “Five Diamond” property, the most important measurements are those related to quality, particularly the numbers of rejected and discarded pieces. This information is useful in determining effectiveness of the laundering processes and wash chemicals. Tracking discarded linen, as an adjunct to monthly inventories, also allows for a more accurate linen-replacement program.
I have always found pieces produced to be a better indicator of performance than pounds produced. My philosophy has been “measure by pounds, manage by pieces.”
Chemical inventories are conducted weekly. This data is used to calculate the cost per hundredweight, to measure cost-effectiveness, as well as establishing daily chemical usage, which facilitates just-in-time ordering, significantly reducing chemical storage space.
Our laundry also operates a full-service drycleaning and guest laundry facility. The number of pieces washed, drycleaned and pressed are tracked daily. Drycleaning with perchloroethylene (perc) is heavily regulated in New York; consequently, it is necessary to maintain records on many things not typically associated with laundries.
Some that must be maintained are weekly leak inspections, weekly maintenance checklists, weekly emergency-preparedness checklists, perc usage, and hazardous-waste management logs.
Textile/Uniform Rental: Kurt Rutkowski, Universal Linen Service, Louisville, Ky.
Achieving operational excellence is a daily task, and we focus on several areas to ensure top performance from our production teams. Our leadership daily monitors a “production pulse,” which gives us an information snapshot. If there is a spike or a valley, we are able to provide a quick response.
[NP][/NP]We review our Key Performance Indicators (KPI) weekly. They keep the entire team focused on achieving our goals. We measure input and output performance from our production team with standards assigned by job. These areas are tracked through each shift and recorded hourly. We address problems as they occur and put processes in place to avoid recurrences. Our goal is to take decisions out of play and replace them with systems, limiting the opportunity for error.
Lastly, we perform quarterly performance evaluations encompassing all areas of responsibility. We focus on strengths, but still need to set goals to curb weaknesses. These evaluations are meant to be an improvement tool for both manager and employee.
Who reviews this information? The senior leadership team reviews and monitors the production pulse. KPI are posted for all to see. Performance evaluations of employees are conducted by a manager and reviewed by a senior manager.
Operational excellence takes daily focus and is something that can only be achieved through our employees. No one person can create an environment of excellence. There is no new answer in how to achieve success; it is through open, honest communication and a focus from the leadership team to inspect what we expect.