Outsourcing linens and uniforms to a reputable service provider is a good way to save some money and relieve yourself of the responsibility of having to launder and maintain whatever your company uses. But with every outsourcing opportunity comes a contract. As the customer, it is your responsibility to make sure that contract terms are to your liking before you sign.
Given that contracts are difficult to get out of, nationwide linen rental provider Alsco recommends doing your due diligence before signing on the dotted line. Alsco recommends looking for five key things that appear in most linen contracts. They are explained below. Bear in mind that signing a contract means you are agreeing to its terms and conditions – whether you understand them or not.
1. Automatic Renewal Clauses
You may be hoping for a linen contract that only goes for a set amount of time before expiring. If you find one, good for you. However, linen companies are more frequently including automatic renewal clauses so as to avoid having to renegotiate as often. These clauses are sometimes known as evergreen clauses.
An evergreen clause is not necessarily a bad thing as long as the contract offers a reasonable way to avoid automatic renewal should the customer decide to no longer continue service. If no such escape clause exists, think long and hard before you sign.
2. Contract Length
Whether or not there is an automatic renewal clause, the contract itself will have a definitive length. Alsco explains that shorter contracts favor customers while longer contracts favor the service provider. The length of contract you prefer is entirely up to you. You just need to know what it is before you sign the deal. Make sure you are comfortable with the term – be it 3, 5, or even 7 years.
3. Linen Replacement
Linens wear out over time. So whether you’re looking to rent table linens or uniforms, make a point of examining the contract’s replacement policies. The contract should clearly spell out if, when, and how linens will be replaced. If you sign a lengthy contract with no provision for replacement during the term, be prepared that some of your linens may start looking a bit worn before the contract expires.
Also familiarize yourself with how the service provider defines normal wear and tear. Why? Because some of your linens may need to be replaced before the contract expires. If it is due to anything other than normal wear and tear, you might end up paying the bill.
4. Annual Pricing
The length of linen and uniform contracts is such that some service providers include language that allows for annual price increases. Such increases are intended to help the service provider cover its own rising costs. You will probably not be able to avoid annual increases, but at least make sure they are reasonable.
5. Uniform Customization
If you are looking to rent uniforms, you may want to customize them with name tags, company logos, etc. This could mean an extra cost inasmuch as heavily customized uniforms may not be reusable for other clients once your contract expires. Check contract language to see how this is addressed. You may end up having to pay an extra fee for the privilege of customizing uniforms above and beyond the simple name tag.
Linen contracts can be complicated documents filled with plenty of confusing language. Be sure to read and thoroughly understand any contract before you sign it. If necessary, have an attorney or experienced business professional go over your contract before you make a decision.