Restaurant chain saves $1.3M with UniFirst Facility Services


A publicly traded national chain of fast-casual food restaurants known for its commitment to high-quality ingredients and eco-friendly practices faced significant challenges due to decentralized purchasing of facility service items. The chain operates over 700 locations across 38 states and is dedicated to maintaining a strong brand image centered on environmental sustainability, health, and safety. The restaurant chain implemented a UniFirst Facility Services program to streamline operations, resulting in 87% annual cost savings.


With each of the 700+ restaurants making individual purchases, the company struggled with uncontrolled spending and inefficiencies outside their core area of expertise—food procurement. This decentralized approach led to the following issues:

  • High acquisition costs due to lack of volume pricing.
  • Inefficient commodity costs from non-standardized products.
  • Difficulty in value analysis because of disparate purchasing decisions.
  • Lack of strategic market knowledge affecting cost management.
  • Decreased profitability from redundant and inconsistent purchasing activities.
  • Complications in the opening process for new restaurants.

Additionally, the company needed to align its facility service practices with its brand values, which emphasized environmental responsibility, health, and safety. This included:

  • Using high-quality, sustainably sourced ingredients.
  • Implementing a “green” housekeeping policy.
  • Committing to non-toxic cleaning practices.
  • Reducing energy consumption and water usage.
  • Aggressively recycling in-store waste.

Solution: UniFirst National Accounts Team

The chain’s Chicago location was nearing contract renewal for mops, mats, aprons, and other facility service items with a local vendor. A store manager reached out to a UniFirst representative for a competitive assessment, which led to the involvement of the UniFirst National Accounts team. The goal was to address the chain’s differentiation objectives and streamline their facility services.

The UniFirst Proposal

Following an initial local meeting, the UniFirst National Accounts team visited the company’s corporate headquarters and developed a comprehensive proposal that included:

  • Phasing out the multiple supplier base to leverage volume pricing.
  • Supporting the chain’s “green” strategy with products/services aligned with LEEDS credits.
  • Leveraging brand attributes to enhance corporate identity.
  • Establishing oversight of purchasing policies and procedures to ensure consistency.
  • Allowing local managers to focus on core competencies by centralizing purchasing.
  • Centralizing access to spending and inventory data for better financial control.
  • Eliminating redundant purchasing activities to increase efficiency.

These specific proposal points were particularly attractive:

  • Accounted for planned future growth to 1,000 stores.
  • No “traps” or “contract creep” in the servicing contract.
  • Time-saving Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).
  • Water conservation and landfill refuse reduction.
  • Consistent product and service packages across all locations.


Before partnering with UniFirst, the chain’s restaurants purchased and discarded four wet mops per week, costing $30/week per location. This practice totaled a projected $1,560,000 annually across 1,000 locations.

With UniFirst’s reusable microfiber mop rental service, the chain now receives professionally laundered microfiber mops weekly, reducing costs to $4/week per location. This change projected annual savings of $1,352,000, calculated as follows:

  • Previous cost: $30/week x 1,000 locations = $1,560,000/year.
  • New cost: $4/week x 1,000 locations = $208,000/year.
  • Annual savings: $1,352,000.
  • That’s an 87% savings

UniFirst’s microfiber mop rental service aligns with the chain’s “green” objectives, reducing waste and supporting sustainable practices. Additionally, UniFirst offers electronic billing, projected to save the company over 2,500 hours of labor per year through paperless invoicing.


By partnering with UniFirst, the national fast-casual restaurant chain successfully centralized its facility service purchases, aligning its operations with its environmental and brand values, and realizing substantial cost savings. UniFirst’s comprehensive solution not only streamlined the chain’s procurement process but also supported its growth and sustainability goals, demonstrating the significant impact of strategic facility management in achieving business efficiency and profitability.

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