CHICAGO — In today’s interconnected world, vended laundry operators have come to realize the power of smart tools that help them remotely direct and improve operations during those times when they can’t—or don’t wish to—visit their business in person.
Security systems, surveillance systems, HVAC thermostats, automatic door locks, payment systems, point of sale (POS) systems and now sophisticated management platforms integrated into laundry equipment are just some of the remote access and management tools being used by today’s self-service laundry owners.
Owner Johnny Segal believes he could run his Soap Box Laundromat and Laundry Service—filled with 90 pieces of equipment—in Hoover, Alabama, through its card-based payment system, cloud-based integrated management platform providing data analytics, and security cameras if it were necessary.
“At night or on the weekends, we can log on and see how many machines are started, or how busy we are, or do we need to come back out. Do I need more staffing this afternoon?” he says. “You’re able to do things without having to be here. Sometimes it can be managing employees. Sometimes, it can be managing the system. Sometimes, it can be adding virtual money to attendants’ cards.”
But he chuckles that they really don’t run things remotely because “we’re here all the time.”
Even so, son Jack, who joined his father’s staff a few years ago, has trouble imagining running Soap Box and its popular WDF service the same way without the tools they use.
“I couldn’t on the weekends, when I don’t want be in here, I couldn’t imagine how you kept up with it, or the anxiety that you felt sitting on your couch, not knowing what was happening at the store,” he says.
For WaveMAX Laundry franchisee John Cooper, his Hialeah, Fla., laundry business is a “side hustle” to his full-time job as a client partner for a software engineering firm.
“I get down there as much as I can. The advice I’ve gotten from experienced people is you’ve got to be in your store,” he says. “I work around my situation. It’s a staffed model, so there’s always someone in the store, a franchise requirement. There’s always at least one person working in the store.”
At this WaveMAX location, payment and POS systems enable Cooper to have “eyes on” when and where needed.
“But it is good to be able to see it and check into stuff,” he says. “If I’ve got to coach somebody through a transaction problem or something like that, or I’ve got to troubleshoot it, I can do it from afar. I don’t have to be there.”
Todd Ofsink’s New York-based Todd Layne Cleaners & Laundromat offers WDF pickup and delivery service throughout Manhattan. A POS system, an accounting system and security cameras are among the tools in place offering Ofsink remote access and management capabilities.
“We’ve been able to integrate so many of them,” he says. “We all use Google Sheets, so no matter where I am or where my employees are, we can all share what’s going on” in cases where a customer claims their laundry is missing or something similar.
“We have the tools to go to the video and actually see what happened. We can get into the point of sale system from any tablet or iPhone and check to see the status of that. We can see the sales figures for the month. We can run reports. We can export emails to send to customers, do an email blast.
“I feel like these tools are sort of coming together and we’re all sharing. And everyone sort of knows what’s going on at the same time. We’re all on the same page.”
Whenever a laundry owner can’t be onsite in their store, it’s got to feel good knowing they can “visit” virtually and that they’re only as far away as their remote management tools.
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