Leadership + Culture = Laundry Operation Greatness (Conclusion)
ATLANTA — The laundry and linen services industry is in a race right now.
A race to “return to greatness,” according to Jay Juffre, executive vice president of ImageFIRST, a healthcare linen and laundry services provider headquartered in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
After the past couple of years, the industry is in a “time of tremendous opportunity.”
“It’s a race right now with a very limited window, and companies that were great prior to COVID who may have slipped a little have the opportunity to return to greatness,” Juffre says.
“Companies organizations that were just good or even poor have the opportunity to become the industry leaders.”
How can laundry operations win this race?
“The companies and organizations that reconnect with their employees, their customers and their cultures the quickest are going to win,” he says. “The others may not even place, and they may be left far behind.
“A winning culture not only makes a place a great place to work, but we know it fuels success, it fuels growth and drives results.
“Now more than ever, culture matters, and leadership and culture go hand-in-hand.”
Juffre shared how ImageFIRST’s culture and purpose has driven business development during the educational session “Building a Business on Culture” at The Clean Show here this summer.
When Juffre first started working for ImageFIRST, it was in the Miami plant as general manager, Southeast Florida. Were the new operating principles (why the team went to work every day, the company’s values [how they work]goals [how it “wins”] and service vision [how it connects with customers]) that attracted him in action when he arrived?
“No, of course not,” he shares. “That plant was so full of excuses. They were by far the worst marketing the company, but I had faith that if we implemented the new ImageFIRST operating principles, results would turn.
“The rollout of the ImageFIRST operating principles for the team in Miami was simply putting them up on a wall and then going on throughout their day.”
Juffre quickly worked to implement the principles.
“So, every decision we made as a leadership team was based on the operating principles, and the results quickly turned.”
He says that in a short time, Miami went from the least profitable market to one of the most profitable. After being flat for years, it had a 20% growth rate. There was a 25% increase in pounds per operating hour, a 10 % increase in revenue per pound, and a net promoter score that went from 25, which is the worst, to 75, which was more respectable.
Being in Miami, the plant is hot, and the 90-day survival rate for new associates went from 5% to 95%. Turnovers went from 90% to 10%.
A more recent example of how ImageFIRST’s operating principles helped the company, Juffre shares, comes out of the pandemic. The company was focused on outpatient surgical markets, and states were canceling elective surgeries, and people were afraid to go to the doctor for routine care .
“This had the potential to devastate our company,” he says. “So, we looked around at what other companies were doing, but we also looked at the operating principles for guidance.
“What we did, without knowing how it would turn out, is we used the operating principles for guidance, and we came up with a simple plan. We came up with three simple rules for coping at ImageFIRST: Keep everybody safe. Keep everybody employed . And take great care of our customers, no matter what it took.
“We based the plan on our operating principles. We based it on our values. We felt being respectful and being honest with our associates was the best approach. We wanted to keep everybody safe. And we felt that if we took great care of our associates and our customers, as always the growth and profit would follow.”
Juffre says that when leadership rolled out the plan to the team, they went from very nervous that the company would abandon the operating principles at a time of crisis to extremely enthusiastic.
“2020 was our best year ever, followed by 2021, which was even better,” he shares. “ImageFIRST is now the fastest growing, largest provider of medical linens in the US, and we attribute this growth to our business approach and the culture we have created.”
In conclusion, Juffre offers some advice. A laundry service’s operating principles, mission statement, values, objectives, etc., can be complete, organized and have the potential to add value to the organization and fuel growth—but they need to be used.
“Take them down off the wall and use them,” he says. “And if you start using them every day, you’ll be amazed at what can happen.”
Click HERE to read Part 1 with a look into ImageFIRST’s operating principles.