South Florida Hospital News
Friday May 14, 2021

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November 2020 - Volume 17 - Issue 5


Navigating the Pandemic: ImageFIRST 'Passes the Test'

The pandemic heavily impacted all industries and sparked a variety of responses from providers and businesses worldwide. However, navigating successfully through these uncertain times wasn’t luck of the draw; for those companies that did, it took intent and persistence.

Jay Juffre, Executive Vice President of ImageFIRST, believes the preparation the company took in the initial weeks after the pandemic hit helped to make the past few months a little easier to navigate. "When it broke, the leadership team spent long days navigating the pandemic. What was true one day wasn't true the next, so everybody was learning together. We were having daily video conferences, and there was a lot of communication with our entire team."
He said that seven months ago the leaders were determining how they were going to plot a course through this, trying to determine a plan; now for the last six months they have been executing the plan. "We've been there for our customers, we've been there for our associates, and we've managed to keep everybody safe in the process. Knowledge was key, but communicating the plan and making sure everybody was aligned was also key. That's how we approached it and it is working out well."
ImageFIRST is the country's largest linen rental and laundry-service provider focusing on the medical market. Juffre said during those first weeks, the team came up with three goals: (1) keep everyone safe – the associates who work with ImageFIRST, their customers, their staff, and their patients; (2) take care of customers' needs by providing uninterrupted service; and (3) keep everybody employed. He expanded by saying, "Safety is a value of ours, but when something like this happens, it gets taken to another level, in terms of our readiness and making sure we're doing the best to educate our team and our clients as we work through this together. No matter what, we had to stay on the forefront to keep everybody safe. Second, we wanted to take great care of our customers. That's always been a priority for us. And third was to keep everybody employed. Many states canceled elective surgeries, and that's been our bread and butter – outpatient surgery centers. So we knew revenues would be down, but we still wanted to keep everybody employed."
To meet and maintain those goals, Juffre admitted ImageFIRST had to constantly evolve in certain areas. For example, he said before the virus, if you saw someone in a grocery store wearing scrubs, you wouldn't think twice. Since then, however, "that became very taboo; our customers were using more scrubs, so we had to meet that demand. We started manufacturing our own line of isolation gowns, and that was something new for us." He said ImageFIRST's order and fulfillment department had to nearly double the staff because of the demand for scrubs and things of that nature, with some plants going from four or five days a week to six or seven to meet clients' needs.
The clients were grateful for the effort. "Our customer retention has stayed at an all-time high. I think they appreciate our willingness to work with them. They always knew they could count on us, but a global pandemic puts any customer/vendor partnership to the test. They're happy we've passed the test."
Not only were previous clients pleased, but new customers have been coming on board as well, with Juffre saying the company has had its best year ever in terms of growth. "We picked up a lot of new clients, as they were looking for a reliable partner – where they don't have to worry about medical linens, and their staffs can focus on patients and not on whether their scrubs are showing up or if they will have enough sheets. We went into this with three goals, and the by-product has been a record year of growth. I'm really proud of that."
Despite the favorable response from the market, Juffre knows the apprehension isn't over. He agreed that it's still hectic, but said it's not even close to what it was like at the beginning. The team continues to try to acquire as much information as possible, from the most accurate sources. "We're still in the middle of a pandemic, but more and more people are educated with what's happening. It continues to be fast-paced, but not compared with the six or eight weeks when this first broke."
However, Juffre believes ImageFIRST has at least part of the answer: "I can't say enough about our team's response. You can come up with a plan, but you need people to execute it. We had the best of both worlds: we had the plan and we had the people." And that was how ImageFIRST passed the test.

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