GLENDALE, Ariz. — Wouldn’t it be great if your equipment never broke down? That it always worked perfectly? Yes!
Now let’s wake up from that fantasy and agree that the most we can do is to keep things nicely humming along as best as possible.
The biggest factor behind equipment failure, I believe, is owner neglect. Some owners will simply do nothing until there is a problem, figuring that if a couple machines go down, they have others the customers can use. But when a customer walks into a busy mat and all the machines are taken, the last thing a customer wants to see are machines they could have used if they were working.
Out-of-order machines are bad visuals. If customers see too many “Out of Order” signs, they will watch their own machines more closely and then tend to complain more about minor things.
Ideally, you want all your equipment up and running well when it gets busy.
We started examining solutions in Part 1, so let’s finish up today:
CUSTOMER ABUSE PREVENTION
To stop this before it starts, help a first-time customer as soon as they come in. Your crew should automatically show new customers how to properly and safely use the machines.
Clearly worded signs help prevent abuse, but I recommend investing in a great video surveillance system that you can stream to your phone.
Make sure the system uses plenty of high-definition cameras. The cams should be partially facing each other in addition to their coverage area so one cam will protect another. Make sure you get a system with public address capabilities, where you can speak and listen to the store from your cellphone. This will help to intimidate some vandals.
My No. 2 tool is more prevention-minded. People normally don’t pay attention to signs but if you have a couple of monitors that show, say, 36 camera feeds in full public view, your warning sign attached to the monitors will carry much more weight!
Your sign should also state that “Anyone who causes any damage to this Laundromat will be easily identified, arrested, and prosecuted.”
Also near a monitor in my store hung a sign that read, “Parents will be held responsible for any damage done by their children.”
If you want fewer problems in the long run, before buying new equipment, make it your mission to use the same due diligence you did when you bought your mat.
Go further than just comparing warranties. Make it a point to spend a few months researching the different brands. Visit other mats and ask their owners what they like and what they dislike about their store’s machines. Would they buy that brand again? Are any issues they deal with easy to diagnose and repair? Bring some laundry and use the machines yourself!
When shopping distributors, ask brand A what it doesn’t like about its competitor, brand B.
Also, keep in mind that a good distributor that stands behind its equipment and wants a long-term relationship with you could cancel out the one or two issues that a brand might have.
ACT FAST ON ‘OUT OF ORDER’ DECISIONS
Machines that start making strange noises should be immediately placed out of order before that noise gets worse and the cause does significant damage.
Each machine should get two “Out Of Order” signs: one on the door, and one covering the coin drop/card reader to prevent a customer from accidentally starting a faulty machine. Always shut off power to a machine that is out of service.
Besides “Out of Order,” the signs I used also depicted a sad face, universally understood by any culture. I printed and laminated them, then affixed them to machines using adhesive tape.
OIL AND LUBRICATE
Oil and lubricate anything that spins. Heck, anything that moves will need to be lubricated from time to time!
If you want to cut down on dryer bearing failures, then you should find the bearing closest to the dryer drum. Hopefully, its housing will have a zerk fitting (aka grease nipple) for you to pump three to four shots of grease from a grease gun.
Why? Because heat dries out grease, which in turn causes bearings to heat up from friction and seize up. A seized bearing can start cutting a groove in the shaft of the dryer basket (trunnion). That’s how you end up with loose dryer drums.
If the housing doesn’t have a zerk fitting, then look to see if they simply left it out. You can often find a screw hole on the housing for you to simply screw one in; you can buy kits of zerk fittings on Amazon.
Once I started greasing the bearings, my dryer bearing jobs evaporated to near zero! Once a year is all it will take.
There is a trick to preserve noisy motor bearings, even without a zerk fitting, but it’s temporary, to buy you a few months so you can correct the issue by changing the bearings.
Get some lithium spray grease and some turbine oil. Spray the grease along the axle as close as you can to hit the bearing; most of the grease will not get past the bearing shield, but some will.
Next, spray the turbine oil over virtually the same spot. This will liquefy and carry more grease into the bearing through capillary action.
I’ve done this to motors right in the machine; there’s no need to remove the motor.
INCREASE VEND PRICES?
The more the machines get used, the sooner they will break down from overuse. While it’s great to have a busy mat, have you thought that it might be too busy? If your store is averaging more than six turns per day, it might be time to increase vend prices.
UTILIZE TECHNICAL SUPPORT
Call your distributor for help with stubborn technical issues. Many times, they have already worked out a solution. If not, the manufacturer’s technical support line is just a phone call away.
CURTAIL RINSES AND SPINS
If you can, try removing a rinse and spin on a select group of washers and note customer feedback, if any. Many customers will not notice. Not only will you save on water usage, those washers will become more reliable simply because they will be operating less. Tub revolutions are like mileage on a car: the less it spins, the longer it will last.
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.