You see the articles every day. In your newspaper. In the trade press. On your favorite business advice websites like LinkedIn. Once a day, 365 days a year, you can find an article about how to conduct yourself in a job interview.

But what if you’re the interviewer, and the person on the other side of the desk is a representative from a textile services company? Because, let’s be clear. The job under consideration is not only keeping your linen supplies running like clockwork, it’s fulfilling a vital role in presenting the face or image your company portrays to your clientele and the general public.

Do you know what to ask? Let’s take a look at six questions that can help you make a sound judgment, not only about the person, but about the company sitting in front of you.

Does the product accurately represent your brand?

Remember always: Number One isn’t you. It’s your brand, which is always bigger and more important than any single person. That’s because your brand and its image represent the real equity of your entire organization.

For that reason, make sure that the product quality being represented suits your brand to a T. This is important about all items, but especially so on anything bearing your name, logo or colors. Uniforms, table linens, bed linens, towels, even janitorial supplies – you should have complete confidence that it reflects your brand values. Because an inconsistent brand results in inconsistent customer experiences.

Is the source of the product reliable?

Again, this is a critical point. You deserve to know as much as you can about the manufacturer of the goods. Ask how long the relationship between the textile services company and their supplier has existed. Have there even been any supply issues?

While you’re at it, make sure you see how the product looks after it has been processed by the plant. After all, that’s the way your customers are going to experience it. They should be able to promise this same quality every time.

Finally, ask for references. Speaking candidly with the customers of the textile company can reveal important insights about a potential future partnership.

Where are the certifications?

You know how your customers are about cleanliness. If someone demands proof, you’d better have an answer. Therefore, be vigilant about third party accreditations, such as the Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA).
Everyone likes to talk best practices. Third party certifications are proof of performance. Facilities that have proved they measure up to these external yardsticks conform to the most rigorous standards in the industry.

Is your sense of urgency shared?

Remember Murphy’s Law. When things go sideways, they always seem to happen at the worst possible time. Only exceptional service keeps random events from becoming major issues. Do you have round-the-clock access to service, should you ever need it?

Any delay at all can mean lost customers, and lost sales are the opposite of repeat sales. Make sure both your route rep and your service manager are available to respond to your requests without delay.

What happens when things change?

Because, make no mistake, change always happens. New employees sign on, old employees leave, businesses expand, people even change sizes. Be direct. Ask about the turnaround time if you need new products or changes in sizes.

Then, hold your supplier to it. Transmit changes in your workforce or inventory requirements as promptly as possible. You’re not just paying for product, you’re paying for responsiveness. Make sure you get it.

How fast are the people turning?

This one separates the pros from the pretenders. Good companies keep good people. Your business is going to thrive – or suffer – depending on two key relationships. Namely, your relationship with your service rep and the service manager. Find out the rate at which these key positions turn over in the prospect’s organization.

Your service rep shouldn’t just be a delivery person. That person should be acutely sensitive to your changing needs and able to bring you ways to help your business run more smoothly. Any issues that arise, from quality control to last minute changes, are going to be handled by your service reps, who are your team. You should have complete confidence in them.

Remember–you’re not just choosing a textile services company. You’re choosing a potential partner who plays a big part in how your brand image is ultimately perceived.