CHICAGO — Wash/dry/fold (WDF) laundry service has been popular for years, and offering pickup and delivery is a hot business trend right now. So for the first quarter’s Your Views survey, American Coin-Op asked its audience if the premium service offering figures in their business plan.
Sixty-five percent of laundry owners who responded to the unscientific poll offer drop-off, and 30% offer pickup and delivery. One-quarter don’t offer WDF service of any kind, and 2.5% say they’re considering adding it. (Respondents were asked to “check all that apply” among these possible answers.)
“When COVID hit and our foot traffic for self-service laundry dropped by 75%, we had to get into pickup and delivery to survive,” says one respondent.
It’s one thing to offer a service but it’s another thing to promote it. Social media advertising (50%) and posting in-store signage (40%) are the most popular methods for marketing WDF among respondents. Traditional media advertising such as newspaper or radio (10%), offering coupons (7.5%), passing out leaflets in their community (2.5%) and “other” methods (2.5%), including posting exterior signage, also saw some traction.
Twenty percent of respondents said they don’t market the service.
Once you get even basic WDF business into your store, you’ve got to be able to manage it. “Shortage of skilled labor” (33.3%) is the greatest challenge there at the moment, followed closely by “training and trusting attendants with the task” (26.7%), respondents say. Other obstacles are “designating machines for the work” (10%), “dealing with problem garments” (6.7%), and “keeping orders straight” (3.3%).
For 20% of our audience, the greatest challenge is in the “other” category. The unpredictability of volume, getting too much work all at once, keeping supplies stocked, and office/storage space were all mentioned.
“When managed right, when employees are properly trained, (WDF is) a great way to increase profits at your coin laundry, and keep the store attended and clean!” exclaimed one respondent.
As far as managing pickup and delivery, some challenges there include “high fuel prices” (18.2%), “shortage of skilled labor” (18.2%), “securing customer loyalty” (13.6%), “lots of competition” (4.5%), and “tracking orders through process” (4.5%).
The “other” category received the most votes (40.9%) but the majority of responses were from operators saying they don’t offer pickup and delivery.
Speaking to high gas prices, 37.5% of operators who took the poll say they have taken no action in response. Here are some examples from a few that have:
- “Just instituted a $4 surcharge for each order.”
- “Raised washer prices.”
- “Yes, we have had to raise prices on many services.”
- “Yes, $2 fuel surcharge.”
“With increasing labor costs and increasing costs regarding detergent, hangers and plastic wrap, we have found it necessary to raise our drop-off price,” a respondent explains. “It’s likely to increase at least once more during this calendar year.”
One operator who took the poll calls WDF “absolutely the wave of this decade,” while another says adding WDF with or without pickup and delivery “makes the laundry business a full-time occupation for (the) owner.”
American Coin-Op’s Your Views survey presents an unscientific snapshot of the trade audience’s viewpoints. Subscribers to American Coin-Op emails are invited to participate anonymously. To better define owner/operator opinions and industry trends, the entire trade audience is encouraged to take part.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].