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Fostering Teamwork in the Laundry (Conclusion)

Do what you can to see that team members feel valued and heard

CHICAGO — Facing a tighter labor market over the last few years, hiring and keeping attendants that work well with others is as important as ever to today’s self-service laundry owners. One way to help that part of your business is to create and sustain an environment that supports staff and encourages them to work together for the common cause.

To hear a bit about their stance on teamwork and the steps they take to inspire store managers and attendants to work as a unit, American Coin-Op interviewed a trio of veteran store owners from around the country.

Yvette Morton Williams is president and chief inspiration officer for a small chain of upscale metro Atlanta laundromats that employs more than 20 people. Among the group’s offerings are a 5,000-square-foot full-service store and some smaller, self-service stores that are “mostly staffed.”

Patrick Dreis owns three Southern California laundromats and a commercial plant where his staff processes fluff-and-fold orders.

Tom McEwen Jr. has an ownership stake in two unattended stores in the Rochester, New York, area, but recently sold an attended store where five employees split shifts with no more than one on duty at any given time.

Part 1 of this article touched on the search for team-centered attendants and the importance of communication between employees and across shifts. Let’s conclude:


I reward my crew with praise, free laundry, and cash,” says Dreis. “I’ll always loan them money when they ask. I’ve had two people quit in the past five years, and I’ve let three go. Pretty stable work environment.”

They weren’t just punching a clock and getting a paycheck,” McEwen says in describing his staff. “They were like family.”

Aside from paying commissions on wash-dry-fold orders, he recalls gifting attendants on birthdays and Christmases, providing treats on other holidays and special occasions, and even serving Thanksgiving meals. 

Williams presents what she calls the “Caught Being Awesome Award.” She bestows the honor on team members who are singled out by another for noteworthy performance.

In my experience, that’s always especially important and valuable when you’re recognized by people who do the same thing that you do.”

She also makes a point to share in team settings the positive customer comments submitted through in-store comment cards or by online review.

I love it because everybody jumps in and there are so many claps, hugs, and virtual hugs over our GroupMe messages that go back and forth,” Williams says. “It just makes everybody feel so good and understand that what you’re doing is not just about you. You’re touching people.”


What should a self-service laundry owner ask of him/herself when it comes to team-building?

For owners, it’s always helpful if you do everything you ask of your team yourself at some point,” Dreis says. “I’ve ironed a lot of shirts, worked the line, and plunged out a few toilets over the years.”

The owner needs to be part of the teamwork,” believes McEwen. “You want to be friendly with your attendants. You want to be part of the team, not just telling your attendant, ‘Go clean the bathroom.’ Go clean the bathroom yourself sometimes. You want to work alongside them.”

Am I doing what I can to make my team feel like they’re valued? Offer incentives and rewards when we can. Sometimes randomly. I think that’s always a good thing,” Williams says. “Some of the best things that have happened to me have been unexpected.

If I get a good idea from a team member, if I’ve asked them for it or not, to act on it, if I can, and then to give them the credit for it. I think all of those things really kind of work together to make a good environment for a team.”

Fostering Teamwork in the Laundry

(Photo: © trueffelpix/Depositphotos)

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