News for the Hospitality Executive
|By D. E. Leger, The Miami Herald
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Mar. 29, 2004 - Seated in an armchair in the vast lobby of a South Beach hotel teeming with spring breakers, Tom Bresson leaned over to share a practice that hotels might prefer to keep to themselves:
"You'd be surprised to learn how many hotels don't iron their sheets," he said. "They plop them on beds with all their wrinkles!"
But for Bresson, a hotel's wrinkled linens mean opportunity.
Bresson is the owner of Triple-A-Linen, which specializes in heavy-duty laundry services.
Included in the Jensen Beach laundry company's arsenal is a 10-foot-long automatic ironing machine, which irons sheets and makes them crisp.
"We tell the hotels that clean linen is important to their business because it's the first thing customers see," Bresson said.
The company now washes 400,000 pounds of dirty sheets and towels a week and has 15 trucks zooming around Florida. Only Walt Disney World does more laundry than Triple-A-Linen in the Sunshine State, Bresson said.
After almost 20 years of cleaning napkins, tablecloths and other items for more than 275 restaurants and country clubs, as well as some 40 hotels from Orlando to The Keys, Triple-A-Linen is now concentrating on persuading big hotels to outsource their laundry to them.
Bresson said the company currently counts 18 Miami Beach hotels, including the Holiday Inn South Beach, the Marriott Fairfield Inn, the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, the Shore Club and the Sagamore as customers. It has four more hotels coming on board in the next year.
"New business is coming from the new hotels that are going up in Miami and from old hotels discovering the benefits of outsourcing," said Angel Pis-Dudot, the company's vice president of sales.
The firm earned $6 million in revenue in 2003, up 30 percent from 2002. Bresson projects 35 percent growth in 2004.
But to win new accounts in the Greater Miami area, Bresson said the company has had to overcome several challenges. First, it must persuade hotels to get out of the tradition of washing, drying and ironing their linens in-house; then, it has to assure them that Triple-A-Linen's trucks can pick up and deliver laundry on deadline to South Beach, for example, despite the two-hour commute to Jensen Beach.
"Before I hired them, I was worried I was going to send my stuff out and never see it again or get somebody else's stuff," said Armando Valdes, the general manager of Four Points by Sheraton Miami Beach.
Bresson said the marketing tool the firm uses to overcome those reservations is the money-back guarantee.
"For customers worried about whether they will receive their laundry despite the two-hour commute, we offer them a free load if the delivery trucks are late," he said.
Valdes, for one, said it works.
"They delivered everything they promised," he said.
Bresson said his success still surprises him. The 48-year-old Keys native didn't go to college after graduating from Marathon High.
He worked at various resorts before deciding to open a coin-operated laundromat in the early '80s.
That business floundered after he opened a second laundromat in Jensen Beach where his sister lived.
"There weren't enough customers," he said. "It was a high-end neighborhood, and we had competition. We decided to go look for business."
To make the switch from the retail to the commercial laundry business, Triple-A-Linen's facilities and staff had to grow.
Today, the firm employs 170 people. It uses 13 industrial washing machines, four towel folders and two big boilers in its 30,000-square-foot facility.
"We can go into any region in the state if it's profitable. The retail business would be boring by comparison," Bresson said.
The practice of hoteliers outsourcing their laundry is here to stay, Bresson believes, and he'll be ready with his ironed sheets.
-----To see more of The Miami Herald -- including its homes, jobs, cars and other classified listings -- or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.herald.com.
(c) 2004, The Miami Herald. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. DIS, MAR, IHG, HOT,