Delivering impressive service27 February 1998
Philip Garner examines the components of real quality.
There were two reasons why my wife and I decided to take a week’s break recently at a German hotel.
The first was to help me recuperate after a major operation, the second was to allow me to conduct some further research into the textile care industry.
Staying in the hotel was certainly recuperative and the hotel’s linen service caught my attention.
Based in the spa town of Bad Pyrmont, the hotel proved to be excellent. The quality of service was exceptional—staff attitudes to guest#s were superb and the cuisine could not be faulted.
The room allocated to us was large, well-appointed and with a pleasant view.
One of the first things we discovered was that the bed linen-sheets, duvet covers and pillow cases-were changed daily. Towels used during the day were replaced with clean ones at bed turn-down time in the evening.
The linen was 100% cotton, well laundered and crisply ironed. It was clear that it was professionally treated by a rental company, the management of which obviously knew the meaning of quality and the importance of matching the quality of its service to that offered by the hotel to its guests.
What about the table linen? I study table linen even before ordering a meal, and look for evidence of residual staining, cor#ners turned back, unwanted creases and the degree of starching. The table cloth and napkins should be well laundered and crisply ironed.
All-cotton table and bed linen has a satisfactory feel which I do not experience with polyester/cotton classifications laundered “in-house”. This is a personal opinion and is not intended as an adverse criticism of all “in-house” laundering arrangements—some I know are exceptionally professional and use 100% cotton articles.
On Christmas Day, at dinner, we were surprised to discover not one, but two, napkins for each person. One was arranged decoratively and the other, a pink damask one, was printed with the Christmas dinner menu. The printed napkin was intended as a souvenir#.
It occurred to me that the printed napkin idea could be used for special occasions generally, be it engagements, weddings, christenings, silver and golden wedding anniversaries, and events to mark a variety of special achievements. The napkins might be sold as souvenirs by reception.
All-in-all, the quality of the linen service of the German hotel matched that quality of service the hotel provided to guests. Even the cabinet towels in the washrooms were pristine and dispensed from one of the latest retracting cabinets which performed faultlessly. Someone knew how to launder cabinet towels and present them to the user. There is nothing more off-putting than being presented by a towel section carrying unremoved staining.
During the stay in Germany, I took an opportunity to visit a laundry processing 50 tonnes of work a day and featuring a new sheet feeding system. The laundry owner-manager of this family business requires two things: quality in laundering and finishing, and sustained production of 900 sheets/ hour or 750 duvet covers/hour with remote feeding preparation and automatic presentation to the ironer. There are no feeding operators at the ironer. The proof of the success of the equipment can only be measured by the quality of finish—the absence of leading or trailing edge turn-backs and the overall finished appearance.
Such was the management’s confidence in the quality being achieved that item stacking, counting and delivery to the despatch department were totally automated. The manageme#nt system records showed that three staff preparing work achieved a consistent flow rate of 900 sheets/hour. This was measured over a month, not during a brief study.
The laundry aims to match its own quality standards to those of the hotels it serves. Innovative production techniques are utilised.
Another laundry I visited, deals with hospital linen rental. It set its quality standards a little lower, but still required high production. The latest flatwork single corner finding remote preparation system is used, as is automatic work presentation to the ironer. An overhead work storage and delivery system is in place.