The system of linen management applied by the industrial laundry from Baveno has become a model followed by English businesses associated to the National Laundry Group. Bruno Bernareggi, the owner, launches a provocative line: “Also us, Italians, should start to work as a team in order to become stronger in such a competitive market”
“Conceiving a laundry”. Weighing the quintals of linen treated every day by a scale that aims not only at profits but at reasoning, convenience, consequences and the durability of investments. A starting point for setting up our own ideas and considering those of our competitors while interlacing them into a “network” that keeps track of the obvious diversities of each business combined with the use and consumption of the market that has become more and more open and hybrid thanks to information technology and mass media.
Bruno Bernareggi is the present representative of a family running the laundry under the same name in Feriolo di Baveno, Verbania over the period of four generations, and an entrepreneur who knows that his company is a window onto the world and a source of business relations that today, are as necessary as the machines themselves. “Ten years ago I felt that some important changes were about to start for the whole sector” Bruno Bernareggi starts telling us at his laundry headquarters at Maggiore Lake, where 40 employees process about 10 tones of linen a day. “The turning point took place when we understood that we could enter the growing market of nursing homes. – Bernareggi continues – It was then that we started to carefully focus on the quality of fabrics to offer our potential clients. In the end, because of a trip to Scotland, we chose jersey whose characteristics combine excellent quality with durability. Back then, it was a brand new proposal for the Italian market but it was enough for us to approach it in the right way believing in the fabric’s quality and the reasons why we had chosen it. Consequently, we signed contracts with 47 nursing homes over four years”.
Jersey seems to be some sort of a “parabola” for Bernareggi. “Because – he explains – it awarded our positive curiosity towards the new and led us to introducing other proposals, even more innovative and ergonomic, apart from jersey. We know that today, nursing homes aim at linen presentability which means hygiene, the wearability and a nice look for garments that even after fifty washing cycles will still remain the same”.
The element called “numbers” comes in here. It has always been an extremely important notion for industrial laundries that service numerous clients in sectors like tourism and health care. “Therefore, – Bernareggi explains – we are strongly orientated towards precise garments tracing. We are able to trace each garment among thousands of garments treated daily. We have chosen to use a microchip thanks to which we can see the garment’s history at any time in terms of its use, washing cycles, differentiation and treatments”.
The turning point takes place with the creation of Ticket Laundry System, a management system that Bernareggi uses to manage washing cycles and linen rental. Each garment is traced and monitored through Ticket Laundry System starting from the withdrawal stage to the delivery. All the data is available to the clients thanks to a free online report system.
The knowledge and capital acquired thanks to the Ticket Laundry System is “mobile” and not fixed at all. It allows to take a wide look around in various directions. “On the basis of our laundry experience – Bruno Bernareggi says – I believe that high information technology applied to the systems got to the point of no return as far as the management of nursing homes, hotels and restaurants goes. There are also new perspectives about new sectors with high potential e.g. the hair stylists, slightly relevant but constituting a surprisingly numerous group. Searching through a well-known web search tool, unlike years ago when we used a hard copy tool, I got 654 results in Verbania province only. If I consider the whole Italian territory, I might get a figure of more than 60 thousand results that cover at least twenty million people who, more or less occasionally go the hairdresser’s or the barber’s”.
Bruno Bernareggi has nothing against sharing the data, experiences and considerations on the laundry business with other entrepreneurs. “We are competitors, indeed – he explains – but we are working in the market that is completely different from that of ten or twenty years ago. The business requires answers from the the whole laundry system even before each individual laundry business. What is more: instead of waiting for demand, why do not we learn to offer innovative solutions? The National Laundry Group from Great Britain is an organization formed by 28 independent laundry businesses that refer to a single, common commercial structure”.
“They also share – Bernareggi continues – their knowledge and skills during frequent 3-day meetings where suppliers and clients are invited to give their contribution together with the proper members of the group. Some time ago, I was invited to Birmingham to talk about our experience with the RF-id after the representatives of all the 28 laundries had come to visit us in Baveno, keen on examining the use of radio-frequency in a laundry.
“Would it not be great if such events happened in Italy, too?” asks Bernareggi, satisfied by the launch of an intelligently provocative line. And for the time being, he “answers” himself: “playing in a team in this way could constitute an alternative to what the future of the sector might bring, that is acquisition of foreign capitals in order to concentrate it more and more aiming at costs and resources optimization. Creating a group could help share projects aimed at particular target of clients, with the right application of tools, new ideas and innovative projects”.
These thoughts bring the entrepreneur from Piedmont to an efficient concluding image: “If I give you one euro and you give me one euro, we each end up having one euro in our pockets. But if I give you an idea and you give me an idea … in the end…we end up having two ideas each!”
In a magazine like Detergo we can only be glad to launch provocations like this one. Hoping there will be more answers to it.
by Stefano Ferrio