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Finding Success by Sidestepping Pitfalls (Conclusion)

Sorensen: ‘Start small and do it well before expanding’

CHICAGO — For the investor considering self-service laundry ownership, there are lots of questions to be answered while on the path to opening a store. And the last thing he/she wants to do is fall victim to a stumbling block that could have been avoided.

Sidestepping common pitfalls such as inadequate maintenance, poor cleanliness and ineffective marketing can be crucial for sustaining success.

Regularly seeking insights from seasoned professionals, staying up to date on industry trends, and actively addressing customer feedback can also contribute to long-term profitability and customer satisfaction.

American Coin-Op invited representatives from some of the industry’s vended laundry equipment makers to identify some missteps or errors they frequently see occurring as newcomers try to establish themselves and their businesses. These experts offered their insights specific to certain steps along the store creation and development path. (And this conclusion includes content found only here, on


Allen Berndt, a regional sales manager for Dexter Laundry: Customers want payment options. They will spend more on average when paying via mobile app or credit card versus cash. Customers will also gravitate toward bigger machines if they can pay via mobile app or credit card. Accepting customers’ payment any way that they would like to pay is a good business practice. Accepting multiple payment methods also relieves pressure from your change machine and may reduce collection time.

Mike Hand, vice president of North America Commercial Central and East for Alliance Laundry Systems: All too frequently, owners assume: “My customers will never embrace cashless payment.” As a society, we are increasingly cashless. Owners who are leery of 100% cashless can offer multiple options for payment to ensure the greatest potential to meet all customers’ needs.

Tod Sorensen, general manager of Girbau North America distributor Continental Girbau West: You should allow the customer to pay their way. The most popular payment method is by card. Customers can add value at the washer/dryer or via value transfer. This allows you to pay via app, credit/debit, EBT or cash.


Hand: When it comes to adding wash-dry-fold, I think some owners are just too quick to do it and/or don’t have full view of how it will impact operations, staffing, space, and self-serve customers. Perform your due diligence ahead of such a move. Make sure your self-serve business is solid and customers are being well taken care of.

Sorensen: Don’t lose focus on your “laundry” base. Keep your additional services related to laundry (wash-dry-fold, commercial laundry services, pickup and delivery). Visit other laundries and learn their systems. Start small and do it well before expanding.

Berndt: When analyzing a location, I like to see that it does well on self-service alone before looking at extra profit centers to increase revenue. It is important to understand your demographics and sell products that your customers want to purchase. Soap and snack vending are the easiest ways to add revenue to a location. Other possible extra profit centers that I have seen over the years include U-Haul rentals, purified water vending, cell phone sales, and even coffee shops built within the laundromat.


Sorensen: Make sure your outside signage is highly visible, big and bold. Don’t make the mistake of having signage that’s hard to see and read. In-store signage should feature premium services, cycles and differentiating factors. Some washers now offer on-screen advertising and value-added services. Establish, create and follow a marketing plan for your launch, first year, and five years out.

Berndt: Advertising and marketing are often overlooked in our business. Make sure to at least keep an eye on your location’s Google page and respond to all reviews whether positive or negative. Locally targeted advertising via Google or Facebook is an effective way to get new customers into your store. I have seen some laundry owners use geofencing with strong results. I am also a huge fan of utilizing laundry rewards programs. Building customer loyalty toward your brand will lead to long-term success.

Hand: Sadly, there’s a popular misconception in our business that advertising and marketing are optional. Don’t make that mistake. However, the second mistake is marketing and advertising but not building in metrics to gauge their effectiveness.

Finding Success by Sidestepping Pitfalls

(Photo: © dagadu/Depositphotos)

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].