CHICAGO — Through hard work and determination, you’ve been able to cultivate the self-service laundry side of your business.
With attendants in place and a laundry business up and running, many operators follow the progression of exploring the extra-profit center of wash-dry-fold/drop-off service.
Taking on this amenity, on top of your self-service laundry business, entails a new set of responsibilities and considerations—Do you have enough capacity to process orders? How can you avoid liabilities when processing customer-owned goods? What are the best packaging techniques for drop-off service work?
American Coin-Op reached out to various experts in the industry to weigh in on these questions, and more, to discover the do’s and don’ts of managing drop-off laundry service.
“A number of factors need to be considered when assessing the addition of a drop-off service offering,” says Chris Brick, regional sales manager, Maytag Commercial Laundry.
Among these considerations, according to Brick, is whether a laundry operation has the “the staff in place to assist with the demands of the drop-off accounts.”
“Are the appropriate procedures and policies in place? If not, can they be enacted?”
A laundry’s demographics and clientele should also be considered, explains J.D. Johnson, president of LaundryRx, a Milnor vended laundry equipment distributor based in Atlanta.
Joel Jorgensen, vice president of sales and customer services at Continental Girbau, agrees with these points and also poses other questions for operators to consider: “Is the store located in an area that supports wash-dry-fold business? What is the demographic profile?”
Allotting space and designating equipment for drop-off service work is a key consideration for Brendan Ristaino, sales manager at Barrington, N.H.-based distributor Yankee Equipment, and a point that everyone interviewed stressed to operators when establishing the offering at their laundry.
“Make sure that you have an area where you can take the clothes in, an area where you can store stuff, and be able to put up a point-of-sale system—just an area that’s designated for wash-dry-fold,” says Ristaino.
“The other thing is making sure you have the machine capacity in the Laundromat,” he adds.
“If you have top loaders, it’s going to be hard to do wash-dry-fold because people like to do their comforters, they like to do bulk wash-dry-fold.”
DEVOTING SPACE, MACHINERY
Designating space and machinery strictly for drop-off service work is seen as important by Tony Regan, vice president of global sales, American Dryer Corp. (ADC), not only for organizational purposes, but for logistical reasons, as well.
“Set aside machines that will not encroach on the daily business from self-service patrons—for example, at the end of the bank of dryers that might get less usage from customers,” says Regan. “Keep in mind speed and convenience for folding and bagging.”
“Designating a folding counter and storage space specific for drop-off service limits disruptions for other store patrons,” adds Brick. “Staff responsible for processing drop-off service linens also should limit the use of larger washers and dryers during peak customer times.”
An understanding of these peak customer times can help in determining a schedule for processing drop-off work, according to Jorgensen.
“Wash-dry-fold should be processed during slow hours of the day, in machines that are used less often,” says Jorgensen. “Every laundry has its own customer flow and machine usage. Determine infrequently used machines and times of the day. Use those machines for wash-dry-fold.”
Ristaino explained that both operators and attendants should have a clear understanding of a laundry’s peak hours to streamline drop-off service work.
“If it’s Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, I know all those machines are going to be used, so I should do it either before everyone gets in [there], or I’m going to have to do it after, so it’s not interrupting ... the walk-in business,” he says.
Ristaino also stressed the importance of being cognizant about the weight of the load of laundry a customer brings in to help determine which machines should be used to process the order.
“If you have 15 pounds of clothes, you’re not going to put them in a 40-pound washer. So, it’s always key to train the staff to look at what’s the weight [of laundry] that [the customer] brought in and putting them in the appropriate machine.”
To further help with this determination, “have a clear understanding” of your store’s turns per day for each washer and dryer, Brick advises.
“With this information, a store owner has a clearer understanding of which machines he should designate for the drop-off service business,” he says.
How much do operators charge for their wash-dry-fold work, and what are the best pricing strategies?
Typically, drop-off service fees are approximately $1 per pound, according to Brick.
“Stores can make additional revenue for the following services: separating loads (whites, colors, delicates, etc.); spot treating; ironing or pressing shirts/pants; or delivery,” adds Brick.
“In our region, the days of $1 per pound are over,” says Johnson, who is based in the South. “We see pricing in nice, well-kept laundries approaching $1.50 with a 10-pound minimum. I also encourage the operator to offer two-day service at a reduced price, as well as the typical same-day service.”
Jorgensen advises operators to conduct a fixed-cost analysis to calculate the cost per cycle, as well as evaluating their level of service and market.
An awareness of market conditions as well as a competitor’s pricing model is of importance to Ristaino and Regan.
“Assess the demographics and competition, as well as the pricing being offered for the self-serve laundry, and compare versus someone doing it themself,” says Regan.
“What I explain to everyone is, you really have to look at the cost of washing, drying and folding per pound,” says Ristaino. “You could be competing with an individual down the road who owns the building, has no note on the equipment, and has a well system so their water prices are reduced. They can do the laundry for cheaper than you can.”
Check back Tuesday for Part 2!
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected] .