SPRING HILL, Fla. — A successful dry cleaning business can provide you with solid profits, but what if you’re looking to take your business to the next level? Adding a coin-operated Laundromat may not be the first idea that comes to mind, but there are many reasons it should.
Mike Cowart opened BEST Cleaners & Laundry here in 2007. It’s the only dual dry cleaning plant and coin laundry operation in the community of 100,000 residents. It’s been so successful that Cowart recently added a second location.
Keeping BEST Cleaners & Laundry’s success in mind, there are several areas where you should focus your efforts when planning an addition.
HOURS OF OPERATION
While Cowart admits there’s more work involved in operating both a dry cleaning plant and coin laundry facility, he says it’s an “opportunity to provide many different services during extended hours to capture a larger share of the market.”
A dry cleaning operation is normally extremely busy in the early mornings and late afternoons during the week as professionals travel to and from work, while a coin laundry’s high-traffic times are middays, weekends and evenings.
Cowart opens both operations each morning at 7. He notes that, while his production staff may leave when work is complete in the afternoon, “we continue operation of the Laundromat until early evening, and keep our dry cleaning pickup and drop-off operation open as well.”
Depending on the city and neighborhood, owners may choose to operate the dry cleaning plant during the day, but offer the Laundromat as a 24-hour location. In this case, it’s essential to work with a distributor to make the necessary adjustments to address potential security issues.
With complementary hours of operation, dry cleaning plant operators may not need to hire additional staff to support the coin laundry facility. While plants require skilled laborers to treat and clean garments, as well as a customer service representative, Laundromats can be serviced by that same CSR.
This is where cross-training employees becomes essential. During non-peak hours of the dry cleaning operation, the counter attendant can also perform wash-and-fold services in addition to customer support. For example, BEST Cleaning & Laundry’s operation requires that the CSRs perform both wash-and-fold operations on the laundry side and act as counter support for the dry cleaning business.
While properly training employees for both positions requires additional time, Cowart has found these combinations of responsibility increase employee productivity and provide them with career advancement opportunities.
MARKETING AND ADDED SERVICES
Once you’ve figured out the nuts and bolts of having a dual operation, it’s time to identify how the two will co-exist to the public. Offering both self-serve coin laundry and dry cleaning is great, but making customers aware of the dual offering is key.
While some customers may only be interested in dry cleaning services and others only interested in laundry services, there are customers interested in both.
For example, a family that drops off dry cleaning items at BEST Cleaners & Laundry may choose to do their weekly laundry at home, but their standard washer and dryer can’t accommodate their bedding and other bulky fabric items they wash monthly. The next time they drop off dress shirts and blouses, the family can choose to have their laundry completed by the attendant, or come in to use the efficient machines.
Although he markets the businesses together, Cowart ensures that customers are aware of both offerings by having two distinct areas and signs on the building. The main sign off the road reads “BEST Cleaners & Laundry,” while the sign on the building exterior of one side reads “Laundromat,” and the other side reads “Dry Cleaning.” Customers driving by who haven’t used the facility know they can have both dry cleaning and wash-and-fold services performed by BEST, and can also do their own laundry onsite.
Cowart plays on the operational synergies to market his location as a “one-stop shop” to customers. He makes the process of laundering clothes an easy and enjoyable one by offering conveniences like drive-thru and pickup and delivery services, and providing a clean, secure, state-of-the-art laundry facility.
Additionally, as coin laundry customers spend more time in a joint location, owners can further increase revenue through add-ons such as food and beverage sales and vending, Internet stations, and arcades.
While there is no one-size-fits-all plan to adding a coin laundry facility to an existing dry cleaning plant, by working with a distributor, utilizing current employee resources, and identifying an appropriate marketing plan, you can be cycles ahead of your competition.