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Attendant Training: How to Mold and Manage Employees (Part 1 of 3)

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(Photo: © iStockphoto/Lise Gagne) 

Bruce Beggs |

CHICAGO – Owners of attended or partially attended coin laundries understand the importance of hiring and retaining good employees. Attendants are an extension of the store’s owner, and squarely on the front lines in terms of customer service.

But a skilled laundry attendant isn’t born — he or she has to be trained. While all coin laundries have their similarities, every store owner likes to run their operation in their own way. That’s what makes attendant training so vital in ensuring an owner’s store is run properly when they’re away.

American Coin-Op reached out to some manufacturer and distributor reps and asked them a series of questions about attendant training. Following are their tips for molding and managing employees so they keep your customers—and you—happy.

Q: Each coin laundry is different, of course, but describe some basic characteristics that a store owner should seek when hiring attendants (attentive, on time, etc.).

Chris Brick, national sales manager, Maytag Commercial Laundry: There are a handful of characteristics a store attendant must possess—timeliness, attentiveness, a clean appearance, people skills, etc. When talking with store owners, I’ve heard several discuss how they procured their employees, including approaching employees at similar jobs (i.e. convenience stores, gas stations, etc.) where they’ve had a good experience and asking if they’d like to work at their coin store. The best indication of an employee’s work ethic is interaction in an actual work setting.

Gary Dixon, national sales manager, Huebsch: When hiring attendants in a Laundromat, an owner should look for those who possess a natural sense of customer service, a positive attitude, a willingness to help others and are invested in their job. As each employee is a reflection of the store, attendants should be friendly and welcoming to every customer who walks through the door. A good attendant is also accountable and attentive to their work in properly maintaining the store.

Ken Hebert, owner, Deep South Laundry Systems, Milnor distributor: We seek friendly, professional attendants with neat appearances who are articulate, punctual, self-sufficient and trustworthy.

Bryan Maxwell, regional sales manager, Western State Design, Dexter distributor: The best attendants have great customer service skills and pleasantly engage the customers. Attendants set the tone for the store. Many times, attendants can be too harsh and confrontational and act more like a security guard. Great attendants connect with the customers personally. When an attendant has a personal relationship with the customer, you have a customer for life. Great attendants care about the appearance of the store and care about the customer’s experience in the laundry.

Q: What tasks should the average laundry attendant be expected to accomplish on a regular basis?

Dixon: Attendants are present to care for the Laundromat and enhance the customer experience by making the store a clean and pleasant environment. A few tasks they should be able to accomplish include mopping floors, wiping down the inside and outside of the machines, cleaning and organizing laundry carts and, in some cases, executing special services such as ironing and folding. They should also be responsible for helping customers in any way possible.

Hebert: Daily duties include general cleaning of facility and customer service.

Maxwell: The most important task of an attendant is connecting with the customer, followed by keeping the store spotless. As an example of this philosophy, if the attendant is mopping the floor and a customer walks over the newly mopped area, how does the attendant react: are they really ticked or do they offer a smile? Attendants who react with a smile are the ones you want to keep. Attendants should be regularly cleaning machines, wiping off the soap from the top of washers, and picking up around the store.

Brick: Ongoing tasks include wiping down equipment at least once an hour, keeping the floor clean, managing the wash/dry/fold schedule—if it is a service provided at the store—and greeting and assisting customers.

Check back Tuesday for Part 2!

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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