Managing The Costs Of A Restaurant’s Linen Service

People who own or manage restaurants know that to make their businesses profitable, they have to keep an eye on their costs. Food and alcohol costs are going to be the biggest expenses for any restaurant, but even small expenses can add up to big costs. Managing your linen costs can help you save money without sacrificing the elegance of your dining room.

Controlling Linen Costs

Whether you own a pizzeria and only need to have aprons and towels for your business or you own a fine dining establishment and need tablecloths, serviettes, chef coats and towels, you can control your linens costs and still have what you need. There are several ways to manage the costs of your linen supply, including:

  • Hiring a Linen Service
  • Controlling Linen Usage
  • Ordering the Correct Amount of Linens

By controlling your costs, you can help your restaurant be more profitable.

Hiring a Linen Service

Whether you are reviewing your existing restaurant’s operations to try to save money or you are opening a new location, you may be trying to decide whether to hire a linen service or buy your own linens for your restaurant’s needs. Although it may seem as if buying linens would be more economical, that isn’t necessarily true.

Buying your own linens for your restaurant means that you will need to clean them yourself. If you have the room for a washer and dryer, that could work for business. However, not all restaurants have the space for that equipment. In addition, you will need to have detergent, stain removers and other cleaning chemicals on hand for your needs.

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Another cost to consider is the cost of labour of doing the laundry. Who is going to launder the linens, when and how often? If you have a high volume restaurant, you may be trying to launder linens and run your dinner service at the same time. If you do not have a washer and dryer on hand, who is going to take the linens to a Laundromat? Is that something as the owner or manager that you want to do everyday?

By the time you add the energy costs of using a washer and dryer in your restaurant, keeping an inventory of laundry cleaning supplies and the labour costs of cleaning your own linens, you may find that hiring a linen service is a more economical route to take. A linen service will drop off the clean tablecloths, serviettes, chef coats, and towels that you need on a daily basis as they pick up your dirty ones.

A linen service has the expertise to remove any type of stain that may be encountered in the restaurant business, so your linens will be returned to you clean and fresh and ready for use. If the towels or tablecloths show signs of wear, they will be automatically replaced for you. Not only is a linen service more convenient for you and your staff, but you will find in the long run that it can be less costly as well.

Controlling Linen Usage

An easy way to help control your linen costs is to control how many linens are used on a daily basis. This can be done in two ways, by discussing the proper use of linens with your staff and by portioning out the number of linens that can be used each day. While that may seem strict, you may be surprised how little use your towels, aprons or chef coats are getting when you start looking at your operating costs.

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Once you figure out how your linens are being used, you can tell your staff what they can do to help control your restaurant’s linen costs. Often times, they will be surprised by how many towels or aprons they use per day and how little they actually use them. For instance, if towels are being used one time to wipe up water spills then put into the outgoing laundry that can be a waste of resources.

To help extend the use of your linens, such as towels, dedicate a sink to soak lightly used towels in so they can be wrung out and reused. For instance, bar towels are mainly used to wipe up spills and wipe down the bar. Before they are put into the outgoing laundry, instruct the staff behind the bar to toss lightly used towels into a sink to soak and rinse them out for reuse. This can help significantly lower the number of fresh towels used per day.

There isn’t much you can do about the dining room linens as tablecloths and serviettes should be tossed into the outgoing laundry after customers have left the table. You may be able to use the same tablecloth two or three times if there are no spills on it, but clean linens are an essential part of a restaurant’s image and they need to appear as fresh as possible when each customer sits down to dine.

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If it becomes necessary, you or the manager can lock up the linen supply and set out the number of towels, aprons and chef coats that are allowed to be used per day. While your employees may grumble at first, you will be able to help reduce your linen costs and help your restaurant’s profitability.

Ordering the Correct Amount of Linens

Finally, when you do examine the usage of your linens, you will get a better idea of how much to order for each week’s use. You will want to make sure you are not over ordering or being sent too many by the linen service because then they are just sitting on your shelf until you get ready to use them. When this happens, you can easily find yourself with an oversupply of linens, which costs you money.

Evaluating your linen usage and needs will allow you to order the proper amount of linens to keep up with your restaurant’s daily needs. It will help you reduce costs and help your restaurant’s costs stay in the black.

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