Benefits of an ‘Errand Path’ Location (Part 1)

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Howard Scott |

Store placement can give your customers opportunity to multi-task

PEMBROKE, Mass. — Choosing a location for a new Laundromat or to relocate your existing store is a challenge.

There can’t be too much competition nearby. You need to be visible and identifiable. Area demographics should be a minimum of 35% rentals. There needs to be plenty of parking as well as ingress and egress. But one area not discussed too often is the opportunity for customers to multi-task.

He or she is in your shop for an average of 90 minutes. Yes, she can sit on fitted seats you provide, perhaps with her children, and get her task done. But wouldn’t it be better if she could do a few errands at the same time? Perhaps she needs to go to the post office. Or look for a gift for an upcoming event. Maybe she needs to buy a sympathy card at the card shop. Or get a check cashed at the money store. Or buy a needed provision at the dollar store. It would be helpful if these stores are right there.

In such a setting, your customer would coordinate her periodic tasks with her weekly clothes washing. Possibly she’d make a list, with No. 3 being doing laundry at the Laundromat. In this way, the customer would routinely clean the family’s clothes at your establishment. It would become part of her routine. She would have created what is known as an “errand path.”

An errand path is having a routine of doing different chores at a single location. She—the customer—calls it multi-tasking. So you are her Laundromat. If there was a problem and you promptly rectified the situation, she would forgive you. If your vend prices were a little higher than another Laundromat down the street, she would continue to use you because of the convenience factor. If a brand-new Laundromat were to open, she’d be less likely to even consider switching. Because she has carved out an errand path, you own her as a customer.

Consider this errand path when you open a new store or relocate. Yes, there are successful Laundromats in self-standing buildings with plenty of parking. And yes, there are Laundromats that are out of the way, and in not-even-visible locations, but they can’t offer the errand path attraction.

To take an example close to home, in my small town of Pembroke, our town center—a strip of stores around a parking lot—consists of a bank, pharmacy, hardware store, liquor store, small supermarket, pizza shop, and candy shop. Probably 90% of the 18,000 residents make their way to this area every weekend.

When buying something at the hardware store, they might stop in the pharmacy to purchase a greeting card. Another resident withdraws money at the bank and spends the cash on weekly shopping. It’s a perfect synergy of retail aggregation. Nothing is wasted. All outlets contribute to each other’s volume. It’s synergistic selling.

What kind of shops benefit a Laundromat by being nearby? Possibly not a supermarket because food shopping takes quite a bit of time, plus refrigerated and frozen items need to be brought home right away. A supermarket probably puts too much pressure on the Laundromat customer. But one-stop stores—places where you can buy one or two items you need—are perfect. Hardware, pharmacy, liquor, card shop, and candy all qualify. In particular, a hardware store and pharmacy are best because each outlet requires endless visits. There is always something needed at these two stores.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion!

About the author

Howard Scott

Industry Writer and Drycleaning Consultant

Howard Scott is a former business owner, longtime industry writer and drycleaning consultant. He welcomes questions and comments and can be reached by writing Howard Scott, Dancing Hill, Pembroke, MA 02359; by calling 781-293-9027; or via e-mail at dancinghill@gmail.com.

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