GULF BREEZE, Fla. — We all love summertime. Though once you get beyond the boating, barbecues and vacations, and focus on your coin laundry’s traffic, turns and revenue, summer may not feel like a vacation.
Many in the business refer to it as the “summer slowdown.” We are wearing less bulky clothing, may be traveling out of town, and kids are wearing those cargo shorts for days before finally tossing them in the laundry. All of this can contribute to that summer slump in business.
So what can we do to pump up business? Are there projects we should be tackling during this break in the action?
In Part 1, I touched on store maintenance, using customer feedback to determine priorities, and having a distributor partner conduct an overall business health check. Here’s some more food for thought:
BRING SOMETHING NEW TO THE TABLE
If you want to spur additional traffic during the summer and moving forward, think McDonald’s. Now, I’m not saying offer customers a free cheeseburger with every wash. Think about that company’s model. It has a stable of menu items, but that isn’t static. The company is constantly bringing new selections to the market — giving people a new reason to stop in. Why aren’t we, as Laundromat owners, doing the same thing?
Does positioning new, faster tumble dryers give customers a reason to stop back? For instance, you could market yourself as “Laundry XYZ, now featuring a new 80-pound washer with ultra-high extraction to get you out the door faster than ever before.”
If this 80-pounder is your laundry’s new “menu item,” make sure you feature it. Think like a McDonald’s marketer — position it up front, where it is visible through the windows; add new signage; and advertise it in a marketing campaign.
New items can be as simple as higher-capacity machines, more machines, or a new wash-dry-fold service “so you can spend more time this summer having fun, instead of doing the laundry.” Maybe the offering dovetails onto your recently completed laundry update, “Come see our redecorated laundry.”
Comfortable furniture can be a draw for customers. Perhaps a new payment system that makes it even easier for users of the laundry to pay for their cycles.
Again, the important key to any of these new menu items is to market them. Make sure your key customers are aware. This is where a data-rich CRM system is invaluable. You can see a variety of information on each customer and can tailor marketing based on their habits. For instance, if you add that 80-pounder, market the new machine to those customers who are currently using your highest-capacity machines regularly.
While most laundry owners will see a slowdown during the summer season, this time creates great opportunity to take a look at our businesses and look for improvements. If we want to create more business, we have to keep our stores fresh and in good shape.
McDonald’s knows, as do most successful companies, that it’s not enough to be great at what you do. You have to keep growing and evolving the business. Updated stores, new product offerings, new services, these are all things that not only help generate more store traffic during the summer, they also drive greater returns throughout the year.
But before venturing into new territory, take an objective look at your business. Call your equipment distributor partner to help you uncover untapped areas of improvement in the store. Having developed dozens of stores for clients, distributors are invaluable resources with a great view of the market.
Don’t let your Laundromat take the summer off. Position it to be successful now and in the year ahead.