(Updated 12/19). Most have learned and repeatedly heard the laundromat trinity ‘Clean, Bright and Safe’. It’s very important of course, and even though it seems obvious, many owners appear to be doing the exact opposite. The other key to success for any store is to make sure your vended laundry equipment is working. You walk into many stores and you wonder how anyone can get laundry done or how the owner makes any money with so many washers and dryers out of order. These four things are the basics without which no store can be truly successful.
I am not saying there aren’t other things you need to do. You must get customers in the door, so you need to make some good decisions, up front, with regard to the location, the type and mix of equipment you purchase, and your marketing and advertising efforts.
Then what? You shouldn’t have to do anything else, right? It’s a self-service business: open the doors, make sure the place is clean, bright and safe, keep the equipment working, and come and pick up the money when you have time in between your recreation, workouts and three-hour lunches. After all this is a self service business. Once again….woo hoo!
Ok, technically a Laundromat is self-service (leaving behind the fluff and fold aspect of the business for the moment) but many owners take this to a degree that results in a shot in the foot. Even though many that use Laundromats are not the Diamond Jim’s of the world I assure you they, like most of us, appreciate nice things, nice surroundings and being treated well. In short your customers appreciate good service!
I think we would all agree that successful businesses or businesses that we like and patronize are masters at providing good service. We all want to be valued as a customer and once we are, we return with money in hand.
Clean, Bright, and Safe is Good but it’s not Enough
You have made your first step towards good service by keeping your store clean, bright and safe with working equipment. You may not look at that as a service to your customers but a chore and expense for you. But truly that is the first sign that you have respect for and value your customers and are serving their needs. Way to go!
Set your Laundry Business Apart from the Competition
What are some other simple things you can do, that many other types of businesses do and many of your competitors don’t, that will set you apart?
- Do you know your customers? A Laundromat oftentimes becomes a little community gathering spot. Many people know each other and come at the same time every week. Join the party! Get to know them, a little about them and call them by name.
- Do you maintain a database of your customers? Almost all businesses have a database of their customers—why shouldn’t your laundry have one too? This will help you get to know your customers and enable you to send them coupons, specials, customer appreciation perks or refunds.
- How prompt are you with refunds? No one wants to feel as though they have been unfairly treated—and though you didn’t mean for the washer not to work—it didn’t. Now your customer is short-changed. You need to deal with that. Devise a system for customers to get their money back quickly or provide a service for free. Some owners will even give a little extra in service or money beyond what someone lost.
- Are your attendants friendly and helpful? Are they reasonably well-dressed…or dressed in uniforms or have name tags whereby they are easily recognizable as customer service agents?
- Do you ever help a harried parent walking in with 10 loads of laundry? How about just lending a hand with a heavy load in or out of your store?
- An occasional giveaway goes a long way. Whether it is a free dry for a steady customer or the raffle of a TV or iPad, your regular customers will greatly appreciate it. And, they’ll likely mention it to a friend who doesn’t (yet) go to your store!
- How about having free soap, or coffee and donuts, on occasion? Or, free hot dogs or tacos on a special day? How about a Customer Appreciation day once a year with freebies and fun?!
I am regularly in and out of a number of different Laundromats and am surprised that so many neglect customer service. They seem to be just limping along embodying the dream of the successful Laundromat owner. That dream is typically one whereby the owner is not overburdened with work, has a low level of stress, has a lot of time on their hands, and is making a lot of money. For owners who under-manage their stores—neglecting customer service—most of that dream may be true, except for the part about making money!
The owners who realize the entire dream (including the profitability part) are those who pay attention to all aspects of their business including good customer service, even though, ironically, it’s regarded as a self-service business.
I’ve outlined just a few things you can do to make sure your customers feel valued and receive the service almost anyone in the world would appreciate. I’m sure you can come up with additional ideas. Value-added services and your personal touch in your store will go a long way toward your business success!
Keep it clean and have loads of fun in your Laundry business! For more information about ways to make your laundromat a success, please contact us today.