GLENDALE, Ariz. — A healthy drop-off laundry service can pay for your employees’ salaries, really boost your bottom line, and more. Some localities that have a lot of working professionals can be fertile grounds for a well-run drop-off service, but you’ll have to work much harder to get a good flow of drop-offs in other areas.

It’s all about trust.

Trust is the biggest factor that convinces a customer to leave their laundry (actually, their property) with you at your establishment.

Drop-off service is not for everyone. You will never capture more than a fraction of your local population. Many people do not have the extra money. They see it as a luxury they can’t afford.

Others simply don’t want any “strangers” handling their personal clothing. They may also see it as something that they can do better.

That said, we all know that there are lots of people who want and need a quality drop-off service, and there’s a nice market out there!

So how can you convince the doubters that your place can do their laundry better than they can? Simple. Just do it better.

Here’s how:

PROFESSIONAL LOOK

Your crew should look professional and well-groomed. This look will help to gain customer trust.

We bought some nice, short-sleeve polo shirts with our company logo and name embroidered over the heart. Get solid white so the shirts don’t show chlorine bleach stains. Polo shirts seemed to be widely accepted by my crew.

The only hitch with uniforms? Some of your crew will be a little picky about what size fits them the best. Make them happy, because they have to wear them all day. Keep in mind that you will have to buy at least two shirts for every worker.

If you are dead set against shirts, you can order custom-embroidered baseball caps in any color. They’re cheaper than shirts, and there will be no sizing problem. We used a company called Queensboro but many apparel companies sell these types of products.

PACKAGING

The finished product is very important! Bags should look square and tightly packaged.

Years ago, we would just pack the laundry in the customer’s nylon bag. However, the laundry inside would often loosen up by the time the customer got home. We realized that if we first packed the laundry in a clear plastic bag, then placed that bag inside the nylon one, the bag could be bounced around without anything loosening up inside.

In addition, the plastic bag would retain the fragrance of any softener we used, so when the customer first opened it, they got a nice whiff of our fresh-smelling softener.

For customers who don’t have nylon bags, we would simply double-bag their laundry. You don’t want a bag to rip open as the customer is carrying it to their car.

We also found that some people do not like clear plastic bags, saying that they don’t want other people to see their laundry as they are carrying it. So, we used a clear-plastic inner bag, and a white-plastic outer bag. 

Hanging items are hung and bagged just as a dry cleaner would do it.

Sock wrappers are a great way to package socks as well as small garments like underwear or kid’s clothes. I got this idea while driving into work one day. I thought, “How can I present a customer’s laundry as if it were just like new?” Then I realized that new socks always come in a wrapper.

I went to my local printer and had him print messages promoting our services on 11-by-17 card stock that was the same thickness as a business card (but you may be able to get away with a thinner stock). After printing, I had him cut the sheets lengthwise into six strips, each about 1.75-by-11 inches, which we then used as wrappers.

Doing this should cost you less than a penny apiece if you buy in sufficient quantity.

STAIN/SPOT REMOVAL

You need a stain remover that is effective at removing most stains while also being safe to use on any laundry.

After many, many trials and formulas over the years, we settled on a simple, effective and inexpensive stain remover: liquid Tide.

I think it’s one of the most effective detergents out there because it contains all the standard surfactants plus has the best formula of enzymes. Simply put, enzymes “eat the stains.”

So, all you need to do is mix one part Tide to four parts water. Put it in a spray bottle and spray the stains a few minutes before loading the washer to allow the enzymes to do their work. That’s it! Nothing better or safer to use than liquid Tide.

We posted a sign in each mat’s window that read “Most Stains Removed.” None of my competitors had a sign like that or even offered stain removal, so we had a little edge. If you were a potential drop-off customer, wouldn’t you consider the Laundromat that removes stains over one that doesn’t?

In Tuesday’s conclusion: First impressions, and deals and promos.

Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.