To our customers, the face of Plymate is our service representatives. Their customer service skills, training, efficiency and safety are key to the success of Plymate. Due to the nature of the job, these coworkers are largely unsupervised for the bulk of the day, so in addition to extensive and on-going training, Plymate has implemented a new tool to help monitor driving habits and improve the safety and efficiency of our route service personnel. Inthinc driver safety technology monitors driving performance in order to improve driver safety habits and awareness.
The Inthinc program monitors speed, braking and other key indicators of safe driving, and provides verbal cues to the driver. These verbal cues act as a virtual coach alerting drivers in real time, helping them to adopt safer driving habits. According to Inthinc, a typical company will see an 86% reduction in speeding, 89% reduction is aggressive driving, 90% reduction in accidents and 88% reduction in seat belt violations.
With 18 delivery trucks driving 8,000 miles per week, these types of improvements in safety, efficiency and compliance can have a significant impact on our company and protect our most valuable assets – the people in the trucks.
Usually the discussion about large vs. small business revolves around the “personal touch” or the value of relationships. At Plymate we talk about it too. A lot. And we believe it. But let’s face it, if you can’t measure it, it’s pretty hard to convince someone of the validity.
So let’s look at the numbers and see if we can make a case that Smaller is Better.
The following chart is based upon a survey by Market Measurement, an independent research company:
These numbers show that smaller, independent textile rental companies perform measurably (and significantly) better than national companies in three key areas of concern for uniform customers. So score a win for Smaller is Better.
So where might being small be a disadvantage? Most people would say “cost of goods” or “buying power.” Good point, but Plymate is a member of the CSC Network, an association of independent laundries, which negotiates pricing for the group. Independents, as it turns out, collectively account for the largest single share of market, 42%. When the Cintas/G&K acquisition is complete, the company will have 31% market share. (Report by North American Equity Research for J.P. Morgan.) So while the big guys are a monster standing alone, the independents combined — not so small after all.
Personal attention, superior service, and competitive pricing – maybe you need to look at the little guy.
We made many equipment upgrades during our recent 7,200 sq. ft. expansion, but our customers will probably notice the greatest impact from our RFID garment tracking process, which allows us to follow a garment from the moment it arrives until it is loaded back on our truck for delivery.
One of the most frequent complaints we hear when talking to prospects is incomplete uniform deliveries, wrong uniforms, and “lost” garments. With our system, those problems are solved before they can even happen.
Here is a virtual tour of how RFID tracking works to help us achieve superior accuracy and efficiency:
Plymate once again is a technology leader in bringing innovation and efficiency to our customers. Let us know how we can help you.
As an organization we have always been committed to ongoing training and employee development. In an effort towards maintaining this focus we have introduced High Performance Training, which is a comprehensive service training initiative written by Performance Matters with the help of industry experts across the country, including our seasoned Service Director Tim Uhlmansiek.
Through a combination of on-route application activities, managerial coaching and ongoing education, a Plymate Service Representative will be empowered to provide an unparalleled level of service to his or her customers. Armed with extensive product knowledge and best-practice service standards, our team will create and harbor a trusting, autonomous relationship with each and every customer. Unique to independent laundries such as Plymate, HPT is one of many tools and processes we utilize to ensure our customers receive the expertise and attention they deserve.
“Do it Better” has always been one of Plymate’s Core Values, and we believe the implementation of this training platform encompasses that very commitment to our valued customers.
Like most other companies, we say we are the best and we even have customers who provide rave reviews to back up our claim. But admit it, you still have doubts. We can cherry-pick our very best customers and only provide their opinions. What if we asked a large cross-section of our customer base? What if we had a third-party ask the questions just so people are comfortable being honest? Well, we did. And the results surprised even us.
Market Measurement conducted a customer satisfaction study for us. They compared our results to averages established for more than 450 clients, over the past 40 years to see how we stacked up against other business-to-business companies and other businesses in our industry.
• Plymate achieved 87% “very favorable.” It is the among thehighest ever recorded by Market Measurement. The average for our industry is 69%. Comparison: 55%-75% of companies in business-to-business achieve “very favorable” rankings
• Plymate ranked 66% “above expectations” for responsiveness to a problem or concern. Comparison: a typical range for this category is 20%-30%.
It is always our goal to improve our results, against both our past rankings and other companies. If you are a current customer, how can we serve you better? Just let us know! If you are a potential customer, we hope to earn the opportunity to demonstrate a higher level of service than you have ever experienced. Call us.
In the Second Quarter 2016 edition of the CSC Network News, Plymate Production Manager Steve Ferguson describes how a careful analysis of the mat wash process helped us improve our product while saving energy. Excerpts from the article:
Mat Drying Time and Energy Consumption
It is an on-going effort at Plymate to look for energy savings and process efficiency without having any negative impact on product quality. At Plymate, floor mat service has been a growing and vital part of our business since 1995. We recently decided to carefully analyse our wash process for floor mat products, in an effort to increase quality and conserve energy. Unlike many of our competitors, Plymate dries our floor mats and we felt there might be an opportunity to improve our energy usage by reducing drying time.
After washing, there is an extraction process to remove excess moisture – like the spin cycle in your washer at home. The conventional thinking is that during the extraction phase, the higher the rotational speed (G’s) produced and the longer the extraction time, the more water will be extracted. While following that practice, we noticed issues with water pockets forming in the mats and wrinkling or rippling of the mats along the bordered edges. In our original formula, 900 lbs of soiled mats were run with an agitated wash, drain, rinse, followed by an 80g low extract, and then a high extract of 180g’s for six minutes.
After some significant testing, we found that we could lower the extraction speed and add a split. The new formula for the same size load is agitated wash, drain, rinse, followed by an 80g low extract, a one-minute shakeout, and second extract again at 80g’s. Using this method eliminated water pockets and reduced the opportunity for the mat to wrinkle or ripple, while doing an even more effective job of extracting excess water, thereby conserving energy by reducing the amount of time needed in the gas-fired dryers.
We found the following measurable improvements and savings with our new process:
1. Eliminate mat wrinkling or rippling by applying less stress and stretching to the mats during the extraction process.
2. Reduce the moisture content of the mats following extraction.
3. Dryer time was decreased by three minutes per load. Our gas consumption was reduced by about 7% from the previous year.
Plymate is one of very few providers of entry mat services to invest in a specialized piece of equipment to roll our mats for storage and delivery. Your first question may be Why roll mats at all? Several reasons, actually:
Better performing mats – If mats are stacked, the mats on the bottom have the nap crushed resulting in a less effective, less absorbent mat.
Space Saving – Large mats (we provide mats up to 30 feet long!) would not fit on the delivery truck if shipped flat.
Ease of handling – Rolled mats can be easily transported on a dolly or cart, making our delivery process smoother.
Delivery and storage efficiency – Rolled mats are easily grouped by size and color for fast, easy sorting in the plant or on the route.
Our new mat roller has several features designed to ensure smooth production and the best outcome:
When rolling our longer mats, the top edge is folded over preventing a tight curl on the end of the mat, helping the mat to lie flat on the floor.
The twin belts adjust to correct uneven feeding.
As the mat is fed onto the rollers, a visual inspection is performed to identify any needed repairs.
Most mats are rolled with the nap side out, but longer mats are rolled with the rubber side out so they will unroll easily when delivered.
The tighter rolling achieved with the new mat roller prevents the middle of the mat from collapsing, resulting is a smoother mat that is easier to carry.
So who cares about mat rollers? People who want a mat that lies flat, absorbs the most dirt and water, and who appreciate a process that is smooth and efficient. If you really care about our mat roller, we would be happy to demonstrate it for you. And if you care about a company who thinks about excellence and efficiency, give us a call.
Every year Plymate launches the new year with a plant-wide kick-off meeting. This began several years back when Plymate started working with Bruce Hodes of CMI Teamwork to implement a structured strategic planning process. The kick-off meeting is the culmination of the planning process and the start of the implementation phase.
The purpose of the meeting is to ensure everyone in the company knows where we are headed and how we are going to get there. But specifically, here are the three most important reasons we feel this is time well spent:
1) Put the past in the past. Moving forward begins when you recognize where you have been. Acknowledge and celebrate the successes and challenges that have come before, so that you can move on and explain how past experiences have helped to mold the plan for the future. This also enhances the credibility of the plan.
2) Relay the vision for the upcoming year. Day-to-day business causes everyone to lose track of the broad, long-term vision of the company and the kick-off is the perfect time to remind everyone about our long-term vision. As an 85-year-old company, we know that adapting to change happens continuously and through careful focus.
3) Build the company culture. These meetings create a growing understanding not just of where we are headed but of who we are as a company. Each department head presents his or her specific action plans. One of our core values is “co-workers make the difference” and we know we can only attain our goals with everyone on board.
As an added bonus, our managers all have increased accountability by getting up in front of our co-workers and committing to the plan!
Steel is up at Plymate!
After several months of excavation and site preparation, the shell for the Plymate expansion is going up! This multi-million-dollar, 7,000 sq. ft. expansion will increase our uniform production area, allowing for more efficient operation and bringing all garment storage under one roof.
This expansion will allow for significant improvement in efficiency now and accommodate our growth for several years. Changes that will take place within the first phase include:
• New water treatment equipment that will significantly decrease solids sent to the local water treatment plant and achieve a 40% reduction in water use.
• Expanded truck bays that will enable several trucks to load simultaneously.
• Additional dryers and other equipment for expanded capacity.
• Expanded storage and operations for our stock room.
The building shell will be complete in February 2016, but the final phase, including additional equipment, is anticipated to be in the fall of 2016. Watch for our progress through the year.
Plymate employees participated in The Salvation Army “Adopt-a-Family” program this year and our co-workers stepped up to provide a generous boost and a happy holiday to a family in need. We are proud of our committed and caring employees.
We wish you all a joyful holiday season.