At your service: Laundry equipment after care. Janice Raycroft raises the importance of after sales care and raises the questions you need to ask to avoid unnecessary downtime in the future.

Many laundries and dry cleaners who purchase or lease new equipment are delighted by the speed, ease of use and often notable cost savings achieved on energy usage, consumables and labour courtesy of today’s high tech machinery.

And rightly so, after all that’s what the supplier promised – the equipment is ticking all the boxes, and what’s more it looks pretty good as well. Whether it’s for the home or work, we all take pleasure in having something new, having discovered the additional features our buy provides and can pat ourselves on the back for making a wise choice after studying the various options available. But perhaps the most important questions to ask before signing on the dotted line are the ones we don’t really want to consider.

Firstly, what happens when or if something goes wrong and our shiny new purchase has a problem we can’t fix ourselves; and where a replacement part is needed, how swiftly will it, and an engineer if necessary, arrive?

The standard of after care service can ensure all the time and money saved courtesy of using up-to-date equipment is not lost through avoidable downtime.

“After care is vital for every laundry operation and an integral part of our partnership approach to customer support,” says Jo Emmerson, marketing manager at Girbau UK. “That’s why we have dedicated, factory-trained service teams for both commercial laundry and industrial laundry customers. Some of our largest industrial laundry customers have their own dedicated engineers.” Girbau is itself a family-owned business and says this underpins the service they offer.

Technology is also helping to make their service operation more efficient and better able to support customer needs. After receiving an urgent repair call, the Girbau service manager can allocate the nearest available engineer for a rapid response. The system automatically informs the allocated engineer of the nature of the customer’s problem and the affected machine and model, helping to ensure they turn up with the right parts for a first-time fix. They say that 96 per cent of its call-outs are fixed first time. It’s not all about sorting glitches in fairly new equipment. As part of the global Girbau group, Girbau UK has unparalleled access to spare parts for any Girbau machine manufactured over the last 55 years, and experienced engineers able to maintain and repair laundry equipment from other manufacturers. There’s a Complete Laundry Care service which combines equipment rental and a service guarantee all in a single monthly payment, an increasingly popular option with customers seeking ease of budgeting and wishing to minimise capital outlay.

For ultimate peace of mind, Girbau also offers Total Maintenance Cover (TMC) and Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) programmes. The TMC programme covers all parts and labour for the laundry equipment on an annual basis after the initial warranty period. It offers accurate budgeting with no extra paperwork or unexpected bills; just prompt attention when required.

The Planned Preventative Maintenance programme covers all labour for one or two pre-arranged preventative maintenance visits per year. “Preventative maintenance can save customers money as well as worry,” says Emmerson, “With regular visits, our engineers can spot wearing parts and replace them before they break and possibly cause additional damage and downtime. This preventative approach is proving increasingly popular with many of our customers, including on-premise laundries in hotels and care homes.” We mentioned those important questions to ask before making a final decision on equipment, but it seems some people shell out and then try to recoup some of the costs at installation time.

Mary Simons of Electrolux specialists AGS reveals: “Increasingly problems are occurring when a machine has been installed incorrectly as this can result in not only damage to the machine but costs involved in the re-installation. It is incredible to think that people spend thousands of pounds on washers and or dryers etc, and then gets ‘Joe Bloggs’ to install, which results in more problems.” But for AGS the main focus is on regular servicing. As Simons says: “You would not expect your car to operate for years and years without having it serviced at regular intervals, so why would you expect laundry equipment to go on and on without any regular housekeeping.” They help to diagnose ‘easy’ problems over the phone, as part of a belief in ‘constant communication’, aided by the Electrolux range displaying fault codes so that if engineers are required they can go to straight to the problem area.

AGS has tailor-made servicing deals: “We provide extensive and individual servicing and repairs which is mutually agreed with the customer at the time of purchasing machinery or any time thereafter. Some prefer us to visit regularly or for us to prompt them. Many prefer planned maintenance visits and if any repairs are immediately needed, or if we feel a repair or replacement part can wait before work is needed, we can predict a repair cost so a customer can budget for it. Noting the hours that laundry equipment is used in between planned maintenance visits allows us to increase or decrease visits, with our customer’s agreement.”

Renzacci UK have recently implemented a state-of-the-art service management system called Call2Field, to further empower their maintenance and support team in delivering exceptional customer service.

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