After opening up our own property to guests, the search was on for a better way to shop for and manage sheets & towels. I started my search for the perfect vacation rental linens back in 2015.
Martha Stewart I am not! In fact, anyone who knows me would laugh at the mere notion of me blogging about linens. Rather, I’m a pragmatic business person with a background in cost accounting and supply chain management. Developer and co-founder of a number of business’, most notably Waterplay®.
What DO I know? I can tell you without a doubt, that if you are not bottom line focussed, you will fail in business. Yes, if you are now operating a STR (short term rental) aka VR (vacation rental) you are essentially “in business”.
If you’re a seasoned business person then you know first hand what I’m attempting to emphasize. Point being; newcomers to business are often too weighted on revenue. Not enough on customer retention or control over expenses.
Growth and sustainability are the name of the game.
SIDEBAR: I recall three (friends) all brilliant sales managers, breaking away together from solid employers to form a startup. They raised heaps of cash and proceeded to sell into the millions within their first year. Only hiccup, supply of goods was a bit sketchy and those pesky bills. They inevitably annoyed every sales lead and input costs exceeded revenue by over 300%. Just saying… It pays to pay attention.
Now that I’ve established the importance of considering the “bottom line”.
How did I find the best sheets and towels for our vacation rental?
I asked a number of hotel managers. What is it you look for while buying linens? Overwhelming response:
1 – Must have clean, crisp, fresh and bright white look
THE WHY – Guests demand prestine clean. White means you are accountable, guests appreciate this. White can be bleached if need be. Colours suggest your hiding stains and too soft equates to warn out, old, and used
2 – Supplier must be easily accessible for ease of replenishment
THE WHY- Relying on a consistent supply and supplier saves a bundle in time and management
3 – Design must be simple and consistently available
THE WHY – Elaborate design will lock you into one manufacturer or brand. Maintaining inventory consistency equates to efficiency
4 – Price point must be reasonable
THE WHY – Spend too much and you are less inclined to generously replenish
5 – Items must be separately available (Hoteliers don’t buy in sets)
THE WHY – Pillowcases, top sheets, and fitted sheets experience varied lifespans
6 – Quick drying for efficient turnovers (single ply sheets)
THE WHY – Quick turnover is king. Heavy cotton sheets, or plush bath mats for example take eons to dry
7 – No shrinkage (Poly blend not 100% cotton)
THE WHY – Shrinking or piling can render the product unusable
8 – Durable enough to withstand commercial laundering (poly blend adds strength)
THE WHY – Must stand up to the rigors of routine laundering, guest wear and tear
“We buy what we buy based on the intended purpose”
What did I do next?
Still not completely sold I ordered and tested a range of sheets on Amazon. I liked the price point and softness of microfiber. But it failed in the durability department. One toenail… that’s all it takes to tear it to shreds.
I learned a lot about so called “Egyptian” cotton. Trust me when I tell you, the real deal is lovely, but if it sells for under $400 per set, ask more questions. Again one toenail with the low priced sheets.
Shrinkage and pilling are common with 100% cottons. Not to mention the wrinkling.
Pima cotton is lovely, but it does shrink and the good stuff is costly. As well, the time to dry is considerable.
“Bottom line! You get what you pay for.”
There are a lot of unscrupulous sellers boasting all sorts of claims. Buyer beware. If it’s too good to be true. Particularly with sheets. Somethings up.
Back to what seasoned hoteliers do
Next step was a search through the hotel supply chain. With my background I was comfortable attempting to negotiate. That is until they asked how many rooms my property had. Yahhh Embarrassing!
Back to the drawing board and determined. I finally managed to test samples from various manufacturers and suppliers of commercial hotel linens.
Long story short, VR Supplies was launched.
Written by: Lynne Arbuthnot
Founder of VR Supplies
Co-owner of Quail’s Inn