In my 20 years in the restaurant business, I picked up quite a few simple and useful techniques to save money along the way. For fine dining and upscale casual restaurants, one of the major expenses pulling from your bottom line is your linen costs. For those who also use their linen company for chef coats, tablecloths, napkins, and underliners the costs can get well into the thousands each month.
Having pressed clean linen to present to your guests is the cost of doing business and commanding higher prices. But, with that, I know full well there is always a struggle when it comes to linen quality. They come back scuffed, wrinkled, full of lint and get relegated to the “credit linen” bag where you hope you get credit. Every time I would see a staff joined around folding napkins I would see a mass of unusable product getting ready to be hopefully credited and sure to cost me money on the bottom line and in labor. Ending the problem has been an issue for almost every restaurant I’ve been a part of, whether consulting or during my time as Director of Operations.
This tip is so simple you’ll wish you had started doing it sooner. First, you have to make sure that you have a system in place for returning credit linen, and then someone needs to be reading the invoice to be sure you are getting credit where and when it’s due. Next time you see your staff sitting around folding napkins ask them to tie the unusable linen in a knot. Not some crazy knot, just a simple little once around and through the loop. Start sending those back in credit linen bags and you will quickly get a response from the linen company. The added step is quite frustrating for them as they now are forced to untie each napkin before washing.
Their staff will put much more emphasis on sending you clean linen once you have started doing this little hack and start sending more soiled product elsewhere. It costs them money to have to account for that extra step. This simple tip has saved myself and my client’s thousands of dollars that go straight into the restaurant owners pockets and will decrease your costs of goods. It’s a win for everyone and will make your staff much more efficient as well when they no longer have to dig through a pile of napkins to find one that’s presentable.