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The Elements of Being Customer-Friendly (Part 5)

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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:

Seating

Craig Kirchner, vice president of sales, marketing and customer service for Dexter Laundry: Your Laundromat customers are going to be spending plenty of time in your store and you’ll want to keep them comfortable so they’ll consider coming back. It’s important to have ample enough seating for your busiest times.

Dave Phillips, national sales manager, IPSO: It is important to provide just enough seating for the customers to be comfortable. But, it is about revenue per square foot — seating does not make owners money.

Dan Bowe, national sales manager, Speed Queen: Be sure to provide ample seating for customers. Most customers spend at least an hour in a Laundromat, so offering space where they can sit comfortably and conduct other business, like checking e-mails or reading, will be greatly appreciated.

Jose Fernandez, owner, Mily’s Place Laundromat, Coral Gables, Fla.: Seating should be in close proximity to the front of the store so customers can keep an eye on their car in the parking lot if so desired. If TVs are part of the customer experience, seating should be in close enough that programs are easily seen and heard throughout the store.

Children’s Area

Ken Hebert, Deep South Laundry Systems: A children’s area will be welcomed and appreciated by your customers, and it will likely reduce unnecessary wear on your equipment.

Bowe: Some newer stores offer a children’s play area that is equipped with televisions, books, arcade games and computers. While this isn’t necessary, it may give you an edge over the competition for those customers with small children.

Kirchner: While it might not work for all store layouts or customer demographics, a children’s play area can make your store more inviting to mothers and families. It can also help keep children occupied while their parents do laundry.

Dawn Nagle, marketing director and VP of creative services, Laundrylux: Parents need help when doing laundry. If you have an area where their children can watch movies or play, this goes a long way in showing how much you care about your customers. Parents will come back to a laundry where their children are occupied and that they can get their laundry done without being pestered.

Phillips: Dedicated children’s areas are nice if the store is large enough to provide them. Areas dedicated to children need to be situated toward the back of the store for safety and security reasons (assuming there is no rear ingress and egress), and it is important that the parents have good visibility of the areas.

Availability of Extra Services

Bowe: If you have an attended store, you have the ability to offer “Fluff and Fold” services. Customers will greatly appreciate this service, especially if they have extremely busy work or school schedules. It allows them to drop their laundry off, get it cleaned and pick up at a later time. In addition to being a customer-friendly component, it’s also a revenue enhancer.

David Cabral, vice president, New England Coin Laundry: Depending on the market demographics, additional services can enhance the overall business – but it is very important to look at the specific demographics of the area before offering any additional service. Examples include alterations, check cashing, receipt of utility payments, tanning, nail salon, café, cell phone sales, etc.

Fernandez: We do have drop-off service, which accounts for a substantial portion of the store’s revenue. We are currently working out the details to provide drop-off dry cleaning service and in-store ironing to increase revenues and attract new customers.

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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