Want to learn more about the Sparkle mission and mentality?
Read on for our in-depth interview with Tim West, Director of Sales and Service at Sparkle Uniform and Linen Service.
Why do you do what you do? What’s the mission of Sparkle?
“We have been in business since 1950, which means that this year we’re coming up on our 70th year in business. The reason that we are successful in our market area is because we are very customer-focused, very relationship-focused. We pride ourselves on providing our customers fair and honest billing, delivered by our trained Customer Service Representatives (CSRs). We are different from other commercial laundries, we custom tailor services to our customers. In an age where image is so important and each company wants to be unique, we try to make sure the image each customer wants to project is carried through. We make our service flexible and deliver what the customer wants, when they want it, and how they want it. We’re not in a box where we have to just deliver things a specific way at a certain time. If a customer has a need, and we can fill this need, we fill it for them.”
How do you deal with that much variation? There’s got to be a lot of logistics that go into tailoring programs to each customer.
“We price things accordingly, of course, but I think it’s all encapsulated in differentiating ourselves from our national competitors. We manage the flow of those goods through the plant and control purchases in such a way that allows us to make it all work.”
What’s been the most rewarding for you personally as the director of sales and service?
“Working for a great owner makes it easy. We have an owner that gives the management team a lot of autonomy. He clearly establishes the goals and where he wants to company to grow and what he expects out of the employees. He doesn’t micromanage us. He gives us our marching orders and lets us do our jobs.”
“To that extent, I think we mirror that attitude with the team that we have. Our team works very well together. We are extremely fortunate to have low turnover, good relationships with our people and customers, and we treat them all with respect. I like to think we treat people how they would like to be treated. A big component is we empower our CSRs to make decisions in the field to resolve issues quickly for the customer. Seeing them treat their route as their own, growing their customer relationships makes all the difference and my job fun. Additionally, we have a family-first mentality when it comes to our employees. When the need arises to deal with young children or family issues, we give them support whenever they need it. At the end of the day, they’re the face of the company which the customer sees every week so that trust and relationship is key.”
What are some of the biggest challenges facing your clients today when it comes to their uniform and linen services and how is Sparkle addressing them?
“On the linen side of our business, one of the biggest challenges is the logistics of linen ordering: making sure the orders get in on time, making sure linen orders are correct so the customers event goes exactly as planned. Before we gave plant tours to many of our existing customers, they thought they could just call the same day within an hour or two and get something delivered. But we started offering plant tours to those customers and letting them see what happens behind the scenes, from when the laundry comes in dirty, to how it gets washed, to how it gets processed, to how our stockroom organizes and pulls orders and all the people that are required to fill an order. Once we did that, they had more respect for the time frame that we needed.”
“On the uniform side of our business, the struggles are just dealing with managing the in’s and out’s of wearers. There’s quite a bit of turnover in the workforce, so the cost to train a new employee and get them set up can be significant. The turnover is one of the hardest things the customer must manage. Its vitally important each customer review their invoices or reports weekly to ensure all active employees are accounted for.”
What makes Sparkle different? Why should businesses choose you instead of another company?
“We’re still very unique in our offerings, not only in custom tailoring our programs but also because we have a value-centered approach. Like I said, the pricing is right and we have a good reputation in our service area and beyond. We don’t get customers calling and saying that they’re out of stuff all the time. We work very closely with them to make sure the inventory levels are correct, they have what they need, and the products are right. No one wants to run a business and have the additional task of managing the linen bill or the uniform bill. They want it to be taken care of and they especially want it to be correct. So we listen to what our customers want and ask, ‘How can Sparkle provide this customer a better experience? ’ ‘How do we make it so the customer doesn’t have to worry about the bill?’ Everything we do is customer-focused so that reading the invoice and receiving service is as easy as possible.”
What are the plans for the future? Where do you hope Sparkle goes in the next few years?
“We’re in a real growth mode right now. In our market area, people are looking for personalized service. They don’t want to be in a box; they don’t want to have to call an 800 number and talk to a machine and transferred several times just to finally reach a mailbox for the billing department. Those big corporations can’t be responsive to their needs, which is something Sparkle excels at. We are reinvesting in our facility and operations to increase our capacity to take on new customers. Our partnership with Infinite Laundry has proven to have great results and the momentum we have been creating doesn’t show any signs of slowing down anytime soon. Our website, social media and advertising are cutting-edge, fresh and modern. We hope to have continued success by being different, in a way that brings value to potential customers.”
What do you want people to know about Sparkle?
“We’re just a customer-focused, family-owned company trying to do the right thing. We found a niche in the market where customers can get what they want. We will continue to grow offering the customers the value they are looking for. We are not trying to copy or follow in the footsteps of national companies. We have seen where they fall short and built Sparkle to be a better solution for customers that want those advantages.
“You may be surprised to know that we are the most technologically advanced uniform and linen service in our area, by a wide margin. We are the right size to offer unique services and programs that really can benefit customers. Our ScanTrax RFID garment tracking system utilizes the newest technology in our industry. Advanced tracking puts information at your fingertips to make quick decisions. Ease of use for every wearer is key. We offer every uniform wearer a free app to communicate needed repairs or requests directly to our facility.
“There are so many other benefits to using Sparkle for your uniform and linen needs. Almost every potential customer that can benefit from these special offerings, chooses Sparkle. See our testimonials page for raving reviews from our happy customers!”