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.
IS IT A FIT FOR YOU?
If you are thinking about adding WDF service at your store, you first have to have a grasp of the market. In some areas, it just won’t be a fit. Stores in high-traffic locations on the edge of middle- or upper-class areas are going to have the best possibility of success.
While all three of my laundries are attended, I only offer WDF service at two of them; the third just would not draw clientele. So, the first step to success is having a firm understanding of your market and where you may be able to draw from.
Upon clearing the first hurdle, you next have to ask if you have the right people in place in the store. WDF is all about customer service and quality control. Do you have staff capable of delivering the best service? If you do, their approach will not only net more customers for the service but satisfied vended laundry customers overall.
SET THE BAR HIGH AND MOTIVATE
Each of us has likely worked for great bosses and companies, and some that are not so great. While there are a number of factors at play, I think a cornerstone of a great boss is they are a motivator — they don’t tell you what to do; they give you a bit of direction, ownership in a project, and let you dazzle them.
My first store had a WDF problem from the start. The laundry was doing 200-300 pounds per week and staff was fighting over employees not doing the work and leaving it for others. They were not motivated to do it, so they didn’t.
When I took over, I implemented a 10-cent-per-pound commission for staff. I also gave them direction: talk to customers, help them, and present WDF. My thinking is they would increase sales of this service, but, overall, the business would benefit from improved customer service.
My win-win scenario was happier, more motivated staff, and improved service and profits. I never approached this business as being about turns. Rather, my tack is on customer acquisition — get customers in and keep them happy. When attendants are interacting and truly know our customers, those people tell others and our customer base grows. Make no mistake, WDF is more than another revenue stream; it’s a tool to provide better service and attract customers to the self-service side.
As for the results, those 200-300 pounds a week had grown to 800-plus pounds per week within a month and a half.
Check back Thursday for the conclusion!