GLENDALE, Ariz. — It’s in your interest to always know why people choose your mat, but you should also know why they don’t choose it.
How many customers are you losing due to one employee’s nasty demeanor? Or perhaps it’s something about your mat or its equipment that’s turning people off. It may be something you’re already aware of in the back of your mind but you haven’t made the conscious connection yet. These turnoffs happen over and over every day, so this is why it’s important to nip them in the bud. Customer complaints and/or surveys can help you accomplish this.
You can’t win them all but you can stem your losses. If your sales are dropping and there’s no new competition, one or more things about your mat may be turning off your customers.
I shared some possibilities in Part 1 but here are some more:
You’ve Got a Loitering Problem — This is a huge turnoff for many customers. Non-paying loiterers can be noisy, smelly, take up room by sleeping in your business, and often monopolize your restrooms. Their presence can scare customers, too. It’s a social problem that’s bigger than any business.
Customers will leave and never come back. Loiterers are a constant challenge. If your city has a hotline to help the homeless, call to see what can be done.
Your Restroom is Dirty — This is by far one of the biggest customer turnoffs! There are people who will choose another mat if your restrooms are dirty, especially during today’s heightened awareness of all things sanitary.
The Small, Dirty Parking Lot Has Potholes — Sarcasm alert! Why not turn off your customers before they even walk in? Annoy them right in the parking lot.
The lot should be flat and smooth, have good drainage (no puddles), no trip hazards, and its spaces clearly marked. And it should be well-lit with camera oversight for safety. If customers feel safe, they’ll come. If they don’t, they won’t. This applies to the store as well.
The Store is Too Noisy — Nobody likes to hear loud, annoying noise. Bad washer tub bearings are the worst, but a nail stuck in a dryer basket can make a grating sound that is aggravating. A customer will forgive one noisy episode, but if they come back to the same noise week after week, you will probably lose them. Watch your TV sound levels as well.
There Are Too Many Out-of-Order Signs — Many mat owners believe they don’t have to rush to fix one or two machines that are down, figuring there are other machines that customers can use. This is true to a certain extent, but it doesn’t look very good.
The more out-of-order machines you’re willing to present to the public, the more people will get turned off. Then they start getting paranoid about the other machines without signs. And if your mat gets busy and customers have to wait because your mat has three washers they could have used, they probably won’t come back. Why? Because they’re angry that you’re not taking good care of “their” laundromat.
Your Mat has Roaches or Other Pests — Roaches and other critters are big turnoffs. People have always been turned off at the sight of a roach walking across a table. No one wants to see waterbugs, mice, spiders, or the biggest fear today: bedbugs!
Simply put, nobody should ever see any kind of pests in your mat. Some people actually have phobias of bugs, but bedbugs will send just about every customer to another mat.
I have a solution that is cheap, safe and effective to use on any crawling bug, including bedbugs. Go online and search for “food grade diatomaceous earth.” This is a powder that will kill any bug that walks on it, yet is non-toxic to humans and pets.
Farmers feed it to their livestock to kill intestinal parasites and dust a lot of their food in storage to kill and keep out bugs that may forage in food stocks. Exterminators use it for bedbugs, dusting it into cracks and crevices.
Just go around your mat once a week and dust all your cracks and crevices. The powder can be slippery, so make sure it’s not on floors where people can slip.
Your Older Machines are Worn-out in Function and Appearance — This is a no-brainer. If you can’t renovate your machines to look and operate like new, then maybe it’s time to get new machines.
Employees Misbehave When You’re Not Around — It’s quite normal for employees to relax when the boss walks out, but they should always know that the customer is the reason they’re there. Remind them that your security cameras are helpful for their safety and to keep an eye on things while you’re gone.
You’ve Gotten Some Bad Reviews Online — Be sure to monitor your online reputation. Customer reviews provide an excellent snapshot for you to “get a pulse” on what the public thinks of your place. Make sure you claim ownership of your webpages, and make a habit to read any comments every week.
You Don’t Know What Your Customers are Thinking — Survey your customers! You simply cannot know what’s on a customer’s mind unless you ask. You need to know what people like about your mat, and what they don’t.
If a customer is really impressed or really aggravated, they’ll fill out a survey. This is a great opportunity to identify and address any little thing that could be causing you to lose your customers. Online surveys are easy to create using a variety of services. If doing this on paper, just make sure the surveys remain private by allowing customers to drop their completed poll in a locked box.
I recall posting a sign in my mats that read, “Today you had a choice. Thank you for choosing us. If you are happy, tell your friends. If you are not happy, tell us so we can make it right.”
Like most laundromat topics, just use common sense. If there is something that you don’t like about a business when you walk in, take a second to reflect on whether your own customers may get the same feeling in your store.
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].