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How to Get Your Laundromat Noticed

This “Drop Your Pants Here” message created a lot of buzz at one of the author’s New York City stores. “We had people taking pictures of our sign nearly every other day for months,” Russo recalls. “If they are taking pictures, they are certainly sharing them … possibly online.” (Photo: Paul Russo)

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How to Get Your Laundromat Noticed (Part 1)

Pointers from Paulie B: What stands out above the fray?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Think for a minute. When you’re driving down a street, what stores catch your eye? Big stores and big signs, yes, but what else? What stands out above the fray?

For me, it’s contrast, color, light, something new, repetition and a sense of movement.

Let’s take a look at some ways that you can get your laundromat noticed:

Contrast — If your street has lots of other stores with signs all trying to be noticed, you need to be different to catch people’s eyes. If most signs in your area have white backgrounds, maybe you can try a red or a yellow background, which will contrast with the others by showing a different eye-catching color.

Only a small percentage of businesses have signs with raised-channel lettering to give a 3D effect, so you may also want to think about doing that when designing your main signs. Not cheap, but they give the impression of quality and permanence.

New Storefront and Sign — If your storefront and main sign are getting old, and you have years left on your lease, consider updating them to something new. It’s common sense but in short, think curb appeal, just like a home.

No matter what kind of signage you use, distance from passing motorists and their traveling speed are important factors in choosing the size of lettering that people will be able to digest. It’s better to err with bigger letters than small, but too big may require a sign that’s also too big. Ask your local sign shop; the folks there usually know or can use a “sign letter size calculator” from the internet.

The Rule of Seven — Keep any promotional message simple, short and sweet. It’s well known that passing motorists will not read much more than seven words in a message. And it’s been said that people need to see a message at least seven times before it goes into their long-term memory. (I went a few words past this number, but I knew that the more words on a sign, the fewer people will read it.)

Banners — A 3-foot-by-10-foot banner is a great way to talk to the public. They’re very effective if you can tie in a sale. Make sure the background and lettering are bolder and different than other signs in the immediate area.

Banners are intended to be temporary, because the whole point is to get noticed with something new and different. I’d run a sale with a banner for a few months, then change the sign and the deal before it became stale. Taking down a banner will also gain attention because some customers will notice that it’s missing. You can save it to use again at another time.

Feather Banners — Wouldn’t be my first choice, but these are another way to catch the eye. You need to put out a very short message, such as “Now Hiring” or “Wash & Dry.” Installation is easy. In concrete, drill a hole in the ground and insert the pole. In grass or dirt, use the ground stake that comes with the banner kit. But be aware that it may create a trip hazard on a high-traffic sidewalk, which could bring a fine or a lawsuit.

Walk-Up Window — Installing one in my store was one of the best moves I ever made. People quickly notice anytime a line is forming. I had a mat on a busy street with lots of traffic, so I installed a walk-up window similar to the drive-up windows at fast-food places. Boy, did that help our drop-off sales!

Customers would stand at the window either to drop off or pick up, with laundry being passed through the window, all while cars were passing by. That image is not something people normally see (ex: contrast and movement), so it is a real eyeball catcher.

Scrolling LED Signs — These signs are highly effective for short messages, and you can easily change them. Some LED signs even allow you to pre-program your messages and will change to the next one on a future time/date of your choice – great for upcoming holidays. If you use one outdoors, you’ll probably need a permit. Many localities will allow one in your front window if you hang it inside.

They’re not even that expensive anymore; a couple hundred bucks can buy you a pretty decent sign online. Lettering size applies here, too, so size it appropriately, but I would buy the best one I could afford.

Check back Tuesday for the conclusion!

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