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Commercial Accounts: How to Market Yourself and Grow Your Business

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Positioning yourself as the laundry specialist to service spas in town, for example, is a great way to expand your business, says distributor Todd Santoro. (Photo: © iStockphoto / Dori O’Connell)

Todd Santoro |

OMAHA, Neb. — Every business requires a steady stream of revenue in order to be successful. In the vended laundry industry, guaranteeing a set amount of cash flow can be difficult, but adding commercial accounts can make a baseline easier to establish.

With proper preparation and marketing to neighborhood businesses, store owners can either start or grow their pickup and drop-off accounts to add revenue, providing their store with stability for the long run.

PREPARATION

Before adding commercial accounts, it’s important for store owners to look at their equipment mix. The last thing you want is to have a commercial account take up too many machines and force self-service customers to wait to do their wash. 

Another precautionary measure that a business owner should take is tracking the store activity and identifying peak times. If the store is consistently busy and there is not ample time during the day to process linen from commercial accounts, owners may want to consider adding a shift.

Another option is to add larger machines strictly for use in serving commercial accounts to a specific section of the store. This way, the commercial accounts will not affect self-service business.

After surveying what equipment you have available to dedicate to these accounts, it’s time to determine who will handle the workload.

When choosing attendants to work for your store, you want to make sure they perform their tasks to your standards. Proper training will help ensure optimal client satisfaction. For example, your attendants will need to know how to properly fold linens and how to interact with customers.

It is also a good idea to have written directions that employees can follow, especially if certain accounts have special laundering requirements.

If you plan on laundering specialty items, reach out to your local chemical supply agent. This representative will be able to ensure you have the right chemicals for specific industries, such as fire or healthcare. As with any decision, ask for a few different opinions so you can make sure to deliver your customers what they deserve.

SOLICITING BUSINESS

Once the preparations are in place to handle commercial accounts, it’s time to grow the business. One of the best ways you can go about this is by finding a niche market to serve in your surrounding community. For example, positioning yourself as the laundry specialist to service spas or providing quick turnarounds for entertainers in town is a great way to build your reputation.

An important aspect to any successful business is having and maintaining an informative website. Make sure your website is up to date and emphasizes your commercial-accounts expertise. It should be easy for potential customers to find information about your services and how to contact you. To see if your website comes up in search results, run a few searches as if you were a potential customer. If your competitors appear before you in these searches, you may need to look at optimizing your website content.

As a business owner, you must always sell your store to others. Make sure everyone you meet knows what business you offer. You never know who could become your next customer.

It’s also important to reach out to businesses within your community. For example, as an owner of five stores, I contacted human resources departments at various companies and offered pick-up and delivery services for their employees. One client uses this as a benefit to employees, and we gain an extra customer. Additionally, some of those companies may have other laundry needs, which can turn into more business for you.

Along with networking with those you come in contact with, it’s a good idea to get involved with community groups. Look for opportunities to join committees within your town’s chamber of commerce or Rotary Club; they provide great ways to meet other business owners. Remember, it all comes back to selling yourself and your business.

COMPETITION

If your community has a large population, you are bound to run into some competition. Linen services may offer customers a lower price than you, but here’s where your service and industry niche come into play. When discussing new business opportunities, it’s important to highlight what you can offer the potential customer. Many linen services do not deliver on weekends, but if you have the capacity to do this, use this as a selling technique. This is important when working with hotels that cater to weddings and large events during weekends.

SERVICE

No amount of marketing can make up for bad service. Service should be the cornerstone upon which your business is built, and this is something your employees should embody. The best referral will always come from a satisfied customer.

To accomplish great service and grow your commercial account business, make sure you have the equipment, employees and time necessary to provide superior results. These accounts can provide your store with a significant amount of dependable business and help you become more profitable.

About the author

Todd Santoro

CleanWash Laundry Systems

President

Todd Santoro is the president of CleanWash Laundry Systems, an IPSO distributor located in Omaha, Neb., serving Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. He can be reached at 888-990-7191 or tasantoro@clslaundry.com.

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