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The Elements of Being Customer-Friendly (Part 3)

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(Photo: © iStockphoto/Mike Sherim)

Bruce Beggs |

CHICAGO — How would your customers describe your coin laundry? Would they say it’s dependable? Clean? Secure? Comfortable? How about customer-friendly?

It stands to reason that customer-friendly stores—those that are welcoming, bright and offer a sense of security, for example—have a better chance of drawing business than the store down the block that’s dark, dirty and run-down.

But there are many levels of customer service, and thus customer friendliness. American Coin-Op reached out to some store owners, manufacturers and distributors this month and asked them for their analysis of the elements of being customer-friendly.

Q: PLEASE DESCRIBE HOW A STORE CAN BE MADE CUSTOMER-FRIENDLY BY ADDRESSING THE FOLLOWING:

Equipment Selection and Reliability

Ken Hebert, Deep South Laundry Systems: Well-maintained, accessible equipment with straight-forward controls makes things simple.

Dave Phillips, national sales manager, IPSO: Equipment should be commercial quality and built to last. When selecting a distributor to purchase equipment, they should be factory-trained in order to provide the best service should owners have any issues, and the equipment should be easy to service.

Karl Hinrichs, president, HK Laundry Equipment: When selecting equipment, make sure to partner with a quality distributor that offers durable, reliable equipment that is built to withstand use in a 24/7 Laundromat operation. Some manufacturers market the home-style machines as commercial laundry equipment. Laundromat owners find out all too soon that the machines are not built for heavy-duty operation. This causes them to spend more money in the long run on repairs and replacement equipment, and has the potential to cause customers to choose other Laundromats that don’t have machine reliability issues.

Dawn Nagle, marketing director and VP of creative services, Laundrylux: Reliable, quick machines can make the difference between whether a customer chooses your store or another. For example, if your customers get error codes and machines shut down because of too much soap or overloading, that’s a problem. It inconveniences the customer, and they get frustrated. It also can cause a headache for your attendants. Customers complain and may want their money back. You must choose professional equipment designed to take the abuse of a Laundromat.

Pricing and Cycle Times

Phillips: A store owner should survey the competitive stores in the area to learn pricing and what additional services are or are not offered. Vend prices do not need to be the lowest. However, they do need to be competitive. Prices should reflect the owner’s commitment to providing a customer-friendly environment, clean and well-lit store, new equipment, and other additional services that are provided.

David Cabral, vice president, New England Coin Laundry: Typically, a washer will have a cycle time close to 30 minutes. Shorter cycle times are popular because of the need for most customers to move in and out quickly. Pricing or vending should always take into account the value provided and the costs associated with the service.

Dan Bowe, national sales manager, Speed Queen: With the right control platform, store owners can offer customers the ability to customize their cycles for an additional fee. Advanced controls allow customers to select cycle modifications, which can include additional rinses, the use of hot, warm or cold water and extra washes. The customers choose which options they want to use, which makes them feel like they’re in control of their laundry. Not only is this customer-friendly, but it also generates additional profits for the owner.

Check back Tuesday for more on The Elements of Being Customer-Friendly!

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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