LAS VEGAS — Seated in recliners, Coin Laundry Association Executive Director Brian Wallace and three store owners could have been conversing about e-marketing in an office or conference room.
But a hall full of Clean Show attendees had the opportunity to “eavesdrop” on them during the CLA’s opening educational session, Upfront and Online: Leading Store Owners Discuss E-Marketing.
The panelists were Louise Messano, owner of three laundries in Texas; Tom Rhodes, a second-generation laundry owner who has eight stores in Florida; and Jeff Gardner, the “Laundry Doctor,” a store owner and marketing expert from Minnesota.
Having store websites has been a valuable marketing tool for all three owners. Messano called her website “the first window to see inside my store.”
“It’s a way you can do great publicity about yourself,” she says. “It’s a great first impression.”
Rhodes uses his website to direct customers to his stores, but he also markets using English and Spanish video testimonials.
“I sat down with a local marketing company and told them what I wanted to do with the website,” Rhodes says. “They put this together for $1,500. It accomplishes what I want at this point.”
Social media such as Facebook is a growing phenomenon that Wallace called “the new word of mouth.”
Gardner told a story about a customer displeased with a garment-cleaning job who posted a negative review on her Facebook page. Because Gardner was connected with her through Facebook, he saw the comment shortly after it was posted, called her directly and resolved the matter. The customer took down the negative post and posted a positive comment.
“This is being done with multiple streams of online media,” Gardner says. “If we aren’t part of it, we are losing the ability to keep track of our businesses.”
The store owners regularly use contests as a way to gather e-mail addresses and build their e-marketing efforts.