Exiting a Rental Contract: Managing Garment Inspection and Collection

This is the fourth post in a six-part series sharing common-sense strategies that have worked for other companies looking to get out of their under-performing rental contracts. Read our first post, and follow along with our series: Understanding the Agreement, Understanding Your Liabilities, and Auditing the Final Invoice to learn more about each step. Final post coming soon!

As we saw in our last post, the decision to end your rental laundry agreement comes with the need to return the garments to the rental laundry provider – and to manage the associated liabilities. Inevitably, there will be differing views of a fair and proper termination cost, and the final cost will be determined by negotiation.

The cornerstone of managing the costs associated with termination of a rental laundry contract is careful accounting for the returned garments. Your provider has a contractual financial claim for all garments that were issued to your employees, and your company is responsible to pay for missing and/or damaged items. Unfortunately, with hundreds or thousands of garments in your company’s system, ensuring all garments are returned is a large task.

Chances are, the rental laundry provider has more detailed records than your company. This puts your company at a disadvantage when it comes to the final negotiation.

Accordingly, the key lies in gathering objective information, so that your company is in a position to negotiate an equitable termination agreement. You’ll want to have first-hand knowledge and documentation about the number of garments your company has returned to guard against charges for lost garments – as well as their condition, to guard against exorbitant damage charges.

Luckily, there is a straightforward, common-sense strategy that has worked for other companies leaving rental programs:

Prior to Garment Turn-in:

  • Identify current inventory of each of your employees by carefully reviewing the rental laundry provider’s most recent invoice or request this information specifically from the provider. Communicate this information to each employee so he or she knows how many garments he or she is responsible for returning.
  • Before communicating your intent to discontinue service with the rental laundry provider, it is a best practice to implement a detailed accounting of all garments leaving (soil pick up) and coming (delivered) on a weekly basis. If the laundry provider is doing the accounting, it is suggested to have a representative of your company there with the laundry provider service representative when this accounting and documenting is occurring each time.
  • It is recommend to request the rental laundry provider share their definition of damage/abuse versus normal wear and tear.

Preparing for Garment Turn-in:

  • Prior to turn-in, communicate at regularly-scheduled safety meetings to convey the importance of employees turning in all outstanding garments. Set the expectation that all garments issued over the course of participation must be gathered.
  • Determine a date after which employees are requested to refrain (to the extent that it’s reasonable) from depositing legacy uniform items into the rental laundry provider’s soiled-laundry bins. This will allow employees to gather all garments that have been issued to them.
  • Schedule “turn in days” for each service center, during which garments will be collected, counted, and evaluated.
  • Consider an incentive to maximize employee participation – examples include:
    • Scheduling “turn in days” to correspond to the roll-out of the new uniforms. In this case, an employee turns-in his old clothing at the same time that he picks-up his new clothing.
    • Scheduling “turn in days” for any date after the new uniforms are rolled-out. Workers can be incentivized either through reward (free FR sweatshirt, FR clothing gift card, etc.) or by punishment (holding employees financially responsible for any item not turned in, similar to any other type of Company property that goes missing).
  • Gather materials including clear trash bags, zip ties, labels, and forms. Plan ahead for technology such as laptop computers, printers, and label printing devices.

Garment Turn-in Events

  • Staff events with qualified personnel to receive, count, and catalog all garments turned in, noting overall condition as well as wear and damage.
  • Each garment should be graded for its quality and ability to be reintroduced into another rental laundry program, and according to the damage standards previously received from the provider. Garments in good condition can be reintroduced into your provider’s other rental laundry programs, so your company should have no liability for these garments.
  • Capture all relevant information, including employee name and ID, serial numbers of the returned garments, date the garment went into service, garment grade when placed into service, current condition grade of each garment, and sufficient information to tie the employee to rental laundry invoices. Also include notes on any damage and reason (if any) that the employee returned fewer than his full allocation of garments.
  • Complete the brief form below to download a sample copy of a Turn-In Form.
  • Insert a copy of the complete assessment record into the bag with garments and zip-tie shut. Retain copies of the record for your company (digitize for safe keeping), and employee. If it is not practical to have computers and printers onsite for the turn-in events, consider having carbon copy forms made up in advance.
  • Record, but do not turn-in any excess garments; keep these to negotiate against any lost or damaged garments.
  • If employees are not yet wearing clothing from the new program on the turn-in day, they may need to retain the set they are wearing through the rest of the day. These can be collected by:
    • Waiting until the end of the shift for employees to change out of their final rental garments, then collecting, cataloging, and evaluating them at that time.
    • Leaving a clearly-identified soil turn-in bin for employees to deposit their final set of rental uniforms, then cataloging, and evaluating them as they are collected from the bin.

After the Turn-in Event

  • Continue to collect “straggler” garments – those recovered after the turn-in or by employees who were on leave, vacation, or who are otherwise unavailable during their location’s Uniform Turn-In Day.
  • Collect and appropriately catalog and evaluate any garments that have been dropped off by the rental laundry supplier in clean condition since the turn-in event
  • Compare the turned-in garments to rosters or rental laundry invoices to develop a report of which employees have turned in garments. Follow up with employees who have not turned in sufficient garments.

Garment Turnover to Rental Laundry Provider

  • Once all counting and evaluation has taken place, return the garments to the rental laundry provider.
    • Rental laundry providers will usually pick up the initial batch after the first Turn-in Day. The sooner they are returned, the sooner they stop charging rent for the garments.
    • Schedule the final Pick Up to occur in two weeks
  • It is a best practice to have the rental laundry supplier perform the final pick-up count with members of your team to help ensure accuracy and also to jointly review the condition of any garments that they may consider damaged.

Now you have a complete, firsthand inventory of the garments your company has turned in, including their condition. Once received by the rental laundry provider, the provider will do their own audit. Every un-returned or damaged/abused garment will be invoiced to your company.

Get Your Sample FRC Turn-In Form

Next Steps

Read on to our next post to understand how to use your physical inspection and turn-in process to verify and audit the supplier’s buy-out invoice.

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