Often, the benefits of a healthier and more productive workplace are not enough to convince customers to make the switch to disposable industrial wipers. Too many end users are concerned about costs.

“Converting customers to disposable wipers is a challenging proposition because it’s very hard to prove from a cost basis that they have a chance of saving money or breaking even when compared to launderable shop towels,” says Nolan.

It often takes a lot of coaching and sampling to get them to convert, he adds.

Confusion over the actual costs of launderable towels is generally the reason for customers’ reluctance. It’s hard for end users to quantify savings if they are unsure exactly how much they’re paying currently, Nolan emphasizes.

Typically customers pay for the product itself, then pay the cost of having it picked up and laundered.

“The customer generally wants to make the move for hygienic purposes, but the fear of it costing more stops them,” Nolan says. “Sometimes they get one bill for everything, and that’s easy to figure out. But in many cases there are three different invoices.”

There are also what Randy Bowers, owner of Superior Marketing Solutions, Shreveport, La., calls “hidden charges,” for example, fees charged for lost, stolen or unreturned shop towels regardless of whether they have been misplaced.

“They don’t actually count the rags,” says Bowers. “They just figure that into their fees when they pick up the rags to be laundered.”

Nolan recommends distributors get proactive in helping customers figure out the actual cost of their launderable shop towels. Most manufacturers offer calculator-type tools designed to make specific cost comparisons, says Bowers.

“These tools are very accurate,” he adds. “And many times we end up showing they will save up to 10 to 20 percent.”

It’s important to also remind customers when making these types of comparisons that the calculations do not factor in the reusability of disposable industrial wipers. Spun lace towels, for example, are extremely durable and absorbent, says Bowers, and can be used multiple times.

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