This message serves to further update our customers on recent events within our team resulting from the concurrent absence of two of our shift supervisors (one on sudden and extended leave due to a heart issue and another on a pre-planned short term absence).
More importantly, this message explains the steps we are taking to be able to better serve our customers as we grow. It follows from the May 1st and May 23rd emails and notifications.
First, though, I want to firmly and unequivocally apologize to any customer who has had less than a positive experience with us during the past month … either In not meeting our high standards or in not meeting reasonable basic expectations (that either you would have for us or that I have for us).
Related to this, customers may have noticed that invoices literally have not been processed for about three weeks (the pre-authorization estimates would have appeared on cards, but should have faded off within a few days). We will be processing these this week to catch up. If there was an issue for anything more substantive than the late returns we proactively disclosed May 1st would be happening and we do not zero out or apply a credit to the invoice, please contact our customer satisfaction team and they will apply a credit to your account or alert me of the request for a refund for the charge. The charge will have been the result of an error in communication, not an intention on my part.
Please allow me to digress into something personal for a moment. On April 27th, during my first colonoscopy at age 52 and the father of three children ages nearly ten to just turning 13, I learned I had seven polyps removed from my colon. After a nearly two week wait, I fortunately learned that none were cancerous. However, one was what they call high grade dysplasia, meaning it was the type that may have been close to becoming cancer.
I share this for two reasons. First, this is my opportunity to advise our large and growing customer base to be proactive in your medical checkups to catch things early. Second, while the buck stops with my wife and I as the business owners, we have been managing our personal and family issues concurrent with our staffing issues.
We started Marin Wash and Fold approaching three years ago, based on the mission statement for our community stated at the bottom of our website’s home page, with a commitment to differentiating ourselves from any who might follow us based on our attention to detail. We immediately brought in a handful of people (including a General Manager) who had been handling peoples’ laundry with trust, care, and attention to detail for what was then over a decade.
We knew that the process of hiring and training new people to deliver the same standardized and consistent, yet concurrently personalized to each customer, quality at a larger scale was going to be critical. Achieving this outcome while assuring that we kept people distant from each other and protecting both our customers and our most experienced people from new hires we were trying to train, who may have come into our organization without the same level of proactive Covid protection methods we had established, added a new element to our hiring and training process.
I am actually a globally recognized expert in another industry for having created a process considered by numerous experts around the world as a gold standard process in that field that helps people brand new to doing something deliver the same result as the most experienced people in that industry. And, my recent experience filming a new training video with the shift supervisor responsible within our team for training new people confirmed the depth of training we have been giving our new people.
We have established and implemented a range of processes, procedures, checklists, redundancies, technical tools, technology supplements, and backup processes that enable us to fulfill on our mission, vision, and commitment to both attention to detail and personalized service.
Where I have fallen short and failed is this: assuring that the people we hired would diligently follow the processes and procedures.
The sudden transition to giving our production team members (our term for the team members who do your laundry) the opportunity to, and responsibility of, operating unsupervised revealed a problem with a subset of our team members. I had not seem this potential problem under the surface. A number of people failed to show up for their regularly scheduled shifts, worsening our delayed returns and making it harder for our driving team members to fulfill on their role. A number of others made mistakes that are unacceptable to me as the representative of the best interest of our customers.
Further complicating things, a person who was a business owner herself who agreed to come in and fill in in the absence of trained shift supervisors substantially deviated from our procedures and attempted to accelerate our pace of operations.
Most all of our customers may not have noticed anything other than the delayed returns warned about in the May 1st email and a lag in response from our customer satisfaction team members resulting from higher call volume. A number of customers will have noticed that their laundry may not have been packaged and presented in the way it customarily is. But, a very small handful of customers have noticed either a deviation from their preferences or some wholly unacceptable mishaps and mix ups … despite all our internal procedures and safeguards.
Here is what is happening to solve for this so it does not reoccur.
First, effective today, I will be terminating the employment of six of our fourteen production team members. The aforementioned temporary person who substantially deviated from our processes is one of those six.
Second, effective as of a few days ago, all operations by our newer staff have been limited to operating when a trained shift supervisor is present. Fortunately, our shift supervisor who handles training has returned, though our other shift supervisor with the heart issue is still on leave.
Third, we have been hiring a set of new people to replace the people whose employment is being terminated. Their training shifts begin tomorrow, under the supervision of the shift supervisor responsible for training. Expectations regarding attendance and performance will be being laid out clearly, in ways we had not done with previous new hires.
Fourth, we are specifically focusing our search for new team members on people we believe have the capacity to be shift supervisors. We are using a tool called the Predictive Index designed and commonly used over its 60 year history to help identify and screen for people who are well suited to certain positions (in this case, managing a team). I am hopeful that one of the people starting to train tomorrow will be able to become a new shift supervisor.
Fifth, with the awareness that our customer service partner has also been adding new team members, their head of customer service and I have been finalizing a five page process document designed to be read by the new people they hire. This is designed so we can achieve consistency in our responsiveness, regardless of whether the person who answers the phone or responds to the voicemail, email, text, or chat when our customers contact us is brand new or more established.
Sixth, we have temporarily suspended our digital marketing to slow the flow of new customers while we train the new team members. This is challenging, because expanding our revenue to cover the new costs we have been adding is important. But, it is in the best interest of our existing customers, until we have expanded the number of our shift supervisors.
If you are wondering, we are making either being vaccinated for Covid or immediately getting vaccinated a requirement for employment with us.
I would suspect that most other laundry services around the country would not provide this level of transparency and detail to their customers. However, we want everyone to know that we are committed to addressing and solving what comes up so we can serve our customers better in the future.
I thank you for both your patience with us during this transition and your eventual continued referrals to new customers after we navigate through this period.
Very sincerely yours,
Marin Wash and Fold