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Creating a Game Plan

Robert J. Renteria |

CHICAGO — Attracting customers and pricing are two topics that always get coin laundry owners talkingIf you haven’t noticed, everything is going up: milk, bread, rent, taxes, automobiles, tuition, bottom-line costs and, yes, those dreaded utilities. But despite everything around us going up, except our profits, why is it that many of you just sit around and complain how bad business is and don’t do anything about it?In past columns, I’ve mentioned that it is estimated that 80% of the coin laundry industry does no marketing and allocates no funds to help drive and attract customers to their stores. Take a close look at your TV tonight. What are you seeing? There’s plenty of advertising. If you don’t know why this is, then it’s too late.RESPECTING CUSTOMERSI refer to laundry customers as the most important people in your lives. Remember when you first started dating your spouse? Come on, try a little harder to remember those days. You had a certain tenacity and passion; no one was going to stop you from pursuing the person of your dreams. It’s time to regain that passion. It’s an absolute must to approach your coin laundry business with that same passion you once had when you wanted to get married. You need to romance your customers and make them believe that you really care about them if you want them to care about you.Remember, everyone, including your customers, has choices. If you are not giving your business your very best, you are opening the door for someone else to romance your customers and steal them away from you, leaving you alone and broke.Let’s think about this in another way. In sports, teams study tapes of their opponents. Teams put together game plans in order to score more points and win games. Do you know who you are competing against, what they do and why they have the business they do? Why are some laundry owners smiling all the way to the bank?DON’T GET HUNG UP ON PRICINGPricing seems to be the biggest phobia that I have witnessed in the past 17 years. Many owners worry about it, yet many of them don’t flinch at a $100 bottle of wine or a $42 steak at their favorite restaurant. Why is that? Think about it for a second. Price is not an issue because they like the way they are being treated as well as the restaurant atmosphere. Does your coin laundry make customers feel good enough to not flinch when they pay for a wash? Probably not, or I would not be getting the numerous phone calls about profits being downI can’t say this enough: the laundry business is not a retail business, simply waiting around for someone with a bundle of dirty clothes to walk through the door. If you want to make money, you must put together a game plan and execute that game plan effectively. Sell yourself and what you have to offer. Be proud of what you have. Tell everyone that you care and are willing to do everything possible to prove that. Prove that you love your customers.Get this into your head: the customer is the most important person in your business and you have to show them this on a continuous basis. Once you embrace the fact that people really do buy from people that they care about, then you will gain the loyalty and the growth in your customer base needed to generate more revenue. And by the way, you’ll be able to raise your prices without having people complain. They won’t complain because they like you and everything your laundry has to offer.FEELING GOODSome of you might want to rehash the same old topics of energy efficiency and which machines are better than the rest. I have been involved in developing more than 500 coin laundries nationally and abroad, and the main reason anyone buys from anyone is that they feel good about the purchase.Invite customers to your laundry as you would normally invite a guest into your home. Your laundry is an extension of who you are, so look in the mirror and ask yourself if you like what you see. In the answer is “no,” then you either need to get with the program or just get out of the business.If you are taking all the positive steps necessary to have a first-class store, and are one of the 20% in the industry with a plan and are working at it every day, then please, by all means, raise your prices!Face it, the laundry industry is changing and you need to change. Don’t just wait for something positive to happen. If you haven’t noticed, there are more competitors out there and the stores are bigger and better. To succeed in today’s marketplace, have a marketing plan and give the customers the treatment and respect they deserve and expect. 

About the author

Robert J. Renteria

Consultant

Robert J. Renteria is a national consultant based in Chicago. He has more than 23 years of industry experience, having helped develop more than 750 coin laundries nationally and abroad. The author of three books, he was named the 2010 Chicago Latino Professional of the Year and is the sole recipient of the 2011 International Outstanding Humanitarian Award. In 2013, he received two Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards for his work in civil rights advocacy and educational reform. He can be reached at 312-933-5619 or robert@fromthebarrio.com.

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