Experts in the development of state-of-the-art commercial and industrial laundry facilities since 1974.

This is the second in a series of articles explaining best practices for hotel laundry scheduling. This post will focus on all properties – from small 25-room hotels to 2,500-room towers. This information is relevant to all hospitality properties regardless of whether you have only Hospitality Linen or if you have Food and Beverage (F&B), Spa, and other laundry needs. Similar to our Hotel Laundry Scheduling post, this is specifically directed at management, including housekeeping managers, general managers and even principals of ownership and management companies.

In the hospitality world, budgeting and scheduling are most often done using the industry standard metric, Cost Per Occupied Room (CPOR). Because overall costs vary wildly between brands and properties, Laundry’s CPOR often varies commensurately, ranging from $2.14 – $21.00. How could there be such huge differences in the CPOR for Laundry? The simple answer lies with the Pounds Per Occupied Room (PPOR) metric.

PPOR not only changes from property to property and within each brand but also changes from day to day within the property. We currently see PPOR range from 8-55 lbs. per room. While I was Laundry Manager at a 5-diamond property in southern California, we had a huge laundry day in 2004 on Labor Day. Unbelievably, at 69% occupancy rate, we did just over 23,000 lbs. of laundry which equates to over 83 PPOR of laundry! Thus, our 400-room resort processed the equivalent amount of laundry as that of a typical 1300-1500 room hotel.

In this article, we focus on the most important factors that affect your property’s PPOR. In addition, we will touch on related elements that can also influence PPOR. It’s important to understand that even with equivalent occupancy rates, from day to day, your poundage can vary which will affect how you schedule the Laundry.

Determining the PPOR

The two most important factors are brand (which affects linen quality) and location. Yet within the property, there are additional elements which also have an influence on PPOR. These include the number of check-ins and check-outs, the number of guests in the rooms, as well as the types of guests in your hotel (group or leisure). In addition, you need to take into consideration the average length of stay, seasonality and major holidays like Mother’s Day and Christmas. The result is a huge variation or swing in PPOR.

I can’t tell you how many general managers, executive committee members and directors I have met who took over a new property similar in brand and number of rooms to their last several, only to find out that the previous rules weren’t applicable. The CPOR they had been using didn’t apply to the new property which meant they had to figure out a new formula to manage their costs. Needless to say, having to adopt a new paradigm is a management headache that can throw budgeting and scheduling into disarray.

When scheduling your hotel laundry, you have to give close consideration to the PPOR. If you have 200 occupied rooms and you average 13 PPOR, you’re going to process 2,600 lbs. of laundry. That’s a lot of laundry for a day. But remember, you have to schedule laundry 365 days a year. So, if, that same day, group business represented 90% of your hotel’s occupancy and none of them were checking out for the next two days, you would be at 10 PPOR or 2,000lbs. That’s almost 25% less laundry. If you were to implement a similar schedule for both days, you would either be shorthanded or wasting resources.

A worse scenario would be if 175 of your 200 occupied rooms are checking out and 191 are checking in. That day, you may have a PPOR of 17 and have to process 3,400 lbs. of laundry. What if you did not have enough people to get the laundry done? What if you were a bit short on Par levels? What if you could not turn the rooms? That would be a disaster. Don’t be that guy and don’t have that day – just schedule your laundry.

Using PPOR for Scheduling

To use PPOR for scheduling, you must calculate what it is for your property: start with the actual weight of laundry and divide it by the actual number of occupied rooms. Weigh every single item of soiled laundry from all areas of the property to be washed on a given day. You need to do this day-in and day-out throughout the year. Daily calculation of the actual amount of laundry to be processed is of paramount importance and something I have insisted upon since day one of running my first laundry: Sort out. Wash out. Repeat on a daily basis.

Even if you don’t have a scale at your disposal, just count the loads washed in the machine or get a report (if available) from your chemical rep. You need to have some educated guess of the soiled laundry. Once you have this, you can apply it to the actual number of occupied rooms and – boom – you have your PPOR.

To establish an accurate average PPOR, ideally, you would track it on a daily basis for the entire life of the property. Or, if you work at a smaller property with limited labor and resources you could track it simply on a weekly basis, or alternatively, do an audit once a while. Whichever way you are able to do it, come up with an average that you can reliably use to schedule laundry.

In addition to the PPOR, you must calculate the Pounds Per Operator Hour (PPOH). This is the number of pounds processed per hour by your laundry associate. For example, let’s say you have a PPOH of 75 which is a reasonable goal for a small hand folding laundry. Divide your estimated poundage say 1,037 lbs. of laundry and your PPOH of 75 which means you need 13.8 hours to process the laundry. A shift is 8 hours with a half-hour in the form of two breaks so you need 2 people to do the laundry that day.

Once the occupancy forecast is available, you can take your PPOR and multiply by the forecasted number of occupied rooms to find out how much laundry you are going to have to process that day. Then, take your estimated PPOH, figure out the hours needed and schedule your laundry.

By the way, we will be covering soiled laundry weight vs dry weight and how this affects cost per pound in a later post in this series. There is also a huge variation in laundry PPOH from 45lbs to over 200lbs. But, first, you need to get control of the schedule of processing soiled laundry.

The bottom line is you need to schedule your laundry; don’t let your laundry schedule your team. First, figure out what your goals are and then design a plan to achieve them. You need to give housekeeping, your largest labor pool, the tools to do their job, the top priority of which is ensuring rooms are ready when guests check in.

Western State Design has been helping clients in the hospitality industry, as well as other industries, address difficult scheduling and logistical issues since 1974. Our 43 years of experience related to commercial and industrial laundry operations and on-premise hotel laundry equipment has allowed us to develop a level of expertise that is unmatched by others in the industry. Contact one of our Laundry Specialists and we will tell you how we can help increase productivity, reduce manpower costs and improve your property’s bottom line.