DALLAS — We live in a “time is money” world, right? Seems like all of us are trying to pile as much as possible into a 24-hour period. This is why so many of us are willing to pay extra for convenience. Ready-made items from the grocery store deli, 10-minute oil changes … heck, even many of our workouts are centered on time savings.
While a good portion of our Laundromat customers visit our stores because they don’t have equipment at home, another segment call on us for convenience.
They might be the apartment renter. This person would much rather pile their week’s worth of laundry into our multi-load washer-extractors than suffer through the pain of a half-day of laundry on homestyle, single-load washers and dryers in the basement of their apartment building. They might also be the homeowner, who brings in bulky items — quilts, bed covers, fall/winter clothing — rather than battle home equipment all day and still not get quality results.
So while some of our customers come to our laundries because they have limited options for clean clothes, clearly, another group loves the convenience our stores provide. So why not provide a higher level of convenience?
Time matters, so how many customers or prospective customers would see value in letting your staff manage their laundry task? Wash-dry-fold (WDF) service can be a nice additional source of income or at least offset the cost of having attendants, provided the service is done right.
CREDIT IS THE KEY
Obviously, having a good staff is important to have as WDF sales advocates (as covered in Part 1), but my experience has shown another element is possibly even more vital. The ability to accept credit card payment for this service was instrumental in our significant growth. One location was averaging 800 pounds. Upon adding a credit card system, we were consistently averaging 2,000 pounds per week within six months.
While not imperative to have, adding a point-of-sale system can complement your cameras in providing an extra check on staff. As all owners like to say, “Trust, but verify.” Many systems can provide a daily report of number of bundles dropped off, total pounds, and any cost factors. Without a robust system offering easy access to this information, owners are simply left to check receipts solely against their video feed.
I would advise anyone starting out or thinking of adding WDF that credit card payment is mandatory, especially when you consider the clientele utilizing the service. This group generally has more disposable income and is far more used to paying with credit. At present, 60% of our drop-off service customers are paying with credit/debit cards.
When approaching pricing for your service, survey your area. What are others in the market charging? Make sure you know what your own cost factors are to arrive at a price structure that makes sense. I’ll also advise to have an idea on where your “sweet spot” is. Some owners take the approach that if the service offsets attendant costs, that’s the sweet spot. Others are focused on building it into a significant piece of the revenues. So, make a plan based on the fact that you got into the vended laundry business. If you want to be a commercial laundry, there are far more direct paths.
QUALITY MAKES OR BREAKS THE SERVICE
With this service, we are selling convenience. However, convenience alone isn’t enough. Convenience without quality is a waste of money. Again, empower staff to focus on providing excellent customer service from start to finish; check loads periodically before they go out to customers. If they look sloppy, you can view it as the employee’s approach to their job overall. Stress quality.
Doing laundry isn’t as obvious as we think. Make sure your staff know how to process — separate lights and darks; watch out for that one red item that can ruin a whole load; double-check pockets to make sure no pens find their way into the washer.
Make sure you have a dedicated space for loads to keep things organized. Remember, we work in an environment where things sometimes “disappear.” Staff should keep an eye on loads at all times. The last thing you want is for a customer’s laundry to “walk out” of the store.
I believe the other part of quality is setting customer expectations through signage or other communication. Note that you are not responsible for items left in pockets (though we do try to check at my stores), and do not remove spots from items (that is what dry cleaners do). We also charge more for processing heavy quilts and blankets.
Finally, make sure your quality shines online. We get a lot of business through our online presence (Google, Yelp), so keep an eye on reviews — people gravitate toward businesses with a four-star reputation.
Don’t complicate WDF service. It boils down to quality staff, and providing quality service and payment ease through offering credit card payment. If you have those bases covered, your business is 90% on the way to success. The rest is process control.
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.