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Attracting Candidates to the World of Laundry

Why would today's bright new talent with numerous career choices consider a career in our industry? The answer is not that difficult if you put yourself in the shoes of a candidate who is the "manager trainee" stage of their career. What attracted you to the laundry industry?

Were you attracted to the industry because you didn't want to be in an office "stuck at a desk". Or was it a salary of $25,000 to $35,000 with growth opportunities a selling factor? Ours is a people business; did you enjoy the ever changing interactions with others from all walks of life. These are all attractive aspects sought by many prospective employees. So you see, we do have a lot to offer high quality candidates. This month we will explore steps that the hiring manager can take to find and keep those quality employees.

Winning Over the Candidate
When you identify a candidate-how do you win them over? Simple - by meeting their needs. Prospective employees in any industry seek job stability and career growth. As a hiring manager you should point out the long-term stability of the laundry industry and an employees ability to achieve their career goals. How?

Let's face it, our industry isn't going "offshore". No one is going to ship soiled linen to the Pacific Rim. There is no amount of high tech that can or will replace water, chemical, and mechanical action anytime soon and employees in our industry enjoy a fairly consistent schedule.

Goal oriented prospective employees will be attracted to the fact there is always something to learn, whether it is on the "production side" or the "service side". Make sure the candidate knows promotions are possible and have been achieved by others towards a possible long-term career goal of general manager, director, etc. Selling candidates on our industry is a process. After you have interested him / her in what we can offer it is time for the interview process.

The Interview
Remember, your prospective employee is not the only one being interviewed at you first meeting. An appropriate candidate will be interviewing you and your facility. So how do you put your best foot forward?

  • Orchestrate the interview process - have either yourself or someone in your organization take "ownership" of the interview process. The process should include at least two visits to the facility by the candidate. Plant tours, riding a route, giving out industry magazines to take home and read, all will help them appreciate what we do in the "world of laundry". 
  • Identify the candidate's "T.O.D" (thread of discontent). What is it that they do not like about their current or most recent job? Determine if your open position will address their current T.O.D. but don't try to fit a square peg into a round hole. 
  • Highlight what you can offer besides salary. Educational reimbursements, quality of life, work hours, training and advancement opportunities are wonderful incentives.

First Impressions
Employers are not the only ones who experience fist impressions. Ask yourself, what first impression will your plant make on an interview tour? Are you presenting a clean, professional work environment? Plants in poor physical condition may affect the hiring of potential managers, as well as the ability to retain managers.

To find out how your plant holds up to a first impression, ask several employees and / or non - employees to put together "a first impression" list. Don't forget about the outside (grass, parking lot, etc.). Not everyone has budgets to cover "eye sores". Consider delegating clean up duties to each department or orchestrating an off day cleanup once a quarter.

The Good, Bad and Ugly
Prepare candidates for the good, bad and ugly during their initial interview. When people expect the worst they can get pleasantly surprised if it is not as bad as they imagined. If your soil sort department is currently "ugly" and you are hiring for a soil sort supervisor explain to him/her you need someone to make a difference and turn the department around. Also stress that soil sort is the "engine" driving the laundry. Although it may be the least desirable department to work in, it is the best starting point for a future plant manager to "learn the business".

Follow - Up
Make a personal connection with good candidates and follow-up with a telephone call to their home to answer any additonal questions. This is also a good way to gauge their degree of interest. What makes any company or any industry attractive to the candidate are the people they interview with, and then ultimately work for. Your ability to instill pride in your current and prospective workforce may come down to your presentation and then your follow-though.

You are competing with many other industries that are in the same recruiting boat. The winner will be the manager who can and will attract quality candidates because of their practice and commitment.

Good luck - we may be at 4% unemployment for a while - and your industry needs you to help win this war.

Craig Lloyd represents, a management search firm specializing in the industrial / institutional laundry industry.  He holds a degree in Industrial Relations from Rider University and has been a Certified Personnel Consultant since 1979.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Laundry Inks $23.7 Million Military Hospital Contract

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Division Laundry & Cleaners process over 16 million pounds of linens yearly for hospitals and hotels. San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC) recently awarded the family-run business a 5-year, $23.7 million contract for laundry services.