How You Can Control Your Company’s Linen Costs


In order to ensure that a business can make money and keep its doors open, costs have to be controlled. Whether it is overhead, inventory, or staff costs, managers have to make sure these costs are kept within acceptable levels in order for their companies to turn a profit. If you own a hotel or a bed and breakfast, you need to be able to control your linen costs.

Buy Versus Rent

When reviewing linen costs, you may want to consider whether you should buy or hire a linen service to supply the bath and bedding linens that your company needs. In some cases, purchasing linens and handling your own laundry may be more cost-effective than having linens delivered and cleaned for your business. However, there are several factors you need to consider when making this evaluation.

Size of Premises

If you purchase linens for your hotel or bed and breakfast, you will need to have plenty of space on your premises to have a laundry area and to store the bath towels, restaurant linens, and bed sheets that are needed every day. If you don’t have the necessary space, then you will have to tote laundry to and from a laundromat in order to maintain your levels of clean linens for each area. This can be time-consuming and inconvenient for busy businesses, especially during their peak seasons.

Staffing Levels

To maintain clean linens, you will need to have someone doing the laundry every day in order to prepare linens for every room. This could mean hiring a dedicated staff to launder linens or carry them to and from a laundromat, and to make sure the inventory is maintained at acceptable levels. This is another cost that you and your manager would be accountable for controlling.

Replacement Costs

Over time, the towels, sheets, tablecloths, and other linens will begin to show wear or become dingy-looking, and they will need to be replaced. This adds to your linen costs if you decide to purchase them for your business instead of using a linen hire service for your needs. Since product costs tend to increase, this could mean you will spend more each year on replacement linens, which will eat into your company’s profits.

Supply Costs

If you do purchase the linens for your B&B or hotel, you will also have to maintain an inventory of laundry supplies. You will need to purchase detergents, softeners, and starch to keep the linens clean, soft, and presentable when they are replaced in each room, or when they are used to dress the tables in the dining area. In addition, you also have to consider the additional energy and water costs when running the washers and dryers.

Linen Service Advantages

There are several advantages to hiring a linen service for your facility’s needs. You won’t have to maintain equipment for laundering the linens, and there are no replacement costs, supply costs, or additional staffing costs that need to be managed when you hire a service to clean and supply the linens you need for the business. However, you do still need to manage the costs of your linen supply in order to ensure the profitability of your business.

Determining Par for Linen Supplies

In order to maintain an adequate supply of clean linens for each room and for your dining area, you will need to figure out what your par is for the linens. The par is how much inventory you will need to have on hand in order to maintain the cleanliness of each room, the dining area, and other areas within your facility that use linens. The par will fluctuate at times because most hotels and B&Bs have peak seasons, and you will need to have more linens on hand to meet demand.

To determine par, you will need to look at the average number of guests you had in your facility over the course of the past couple of years. This will help you determine when your peak periods are, so you know when your B&B or hotel needs to have a larger inventory of linens on hand to meet the facility’s needs. Then, you can figure out what the inventory par is for peak seasons and times when there is a decrease in business.

As a general rule, you should have at least two and a half par on hand in order to have clean beds and clean towels in each room. For the linens in your dining room, your pharmacy is larger if the restaurant is open to the public. If not, then one and a half par may be more than sufficient for the dining areas, as well as for other needs like pillows, shower curtains, blankets, bedspreads, and mattress pads.

Taking Inventory

To help control linen costs, you need to inventory your linen supply at least once a month to ensure you are keeping an adequate supply. When you take inventory, don’t forget to account for the linens that you’ve ordered that haven’t yet been delivered from your service. Then, subtract the amount you’ve counted from two and a half par, and this will result in the number of linens that you need to order.

To make it easier to inventory items, keep them stocked in the same room or area, with labels on the shelves so you and your staff know where to find everything when it is needed. If linens seem to be missing, you may need to lock the room and provide managers with the keys to prevent shrinkage due to theft. You will need to account for shrinkage costs whether you purchase linens yourself or use a service because some guests will walk out with towels or bathrobes after their stays.

If you can control your linen inventory costs as well as your other costs, your business will have a better chance of being profitable. Hiring a linen service will reduce or eliminate several costs associated with your linen inventory.

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