RIPON, Wis. — As a Laundromat owner, you are faced with many decisions that affect the daily operation of your business. One of these important decisions is hiring attendants. Oftentimes, attendants are the face of your store, which is why you need to hire wisely to ensure that your attendants represent your business in a positive way to help grow and maintain your customer base.
Whether opening your first store or your fifth, hiring and training attendants can be challenging as you are trusting someone else to help operate your business.
With more than 20 attendants working across four stores, multi-store owner Tony Kahan is all too familiar with what it takes to hire and train the best employees. Kahan has a simple motto for the four Chicago Laundromats he co-owns with his brother, Rich: “Always Clean, Always Friendly.” According to Kahan, he and his brother are able to carry out this motto with the help of their attendants.
TRAINING PROCESSES AND PROCEDURES
Once a new attendant is hired, he or she will need to be trained on how to properly execute their tasks for which they are responsible. Every store trains new attendants differently, but in general there are two areas that make up training: administration and hands-on.
Owners should provide new employees with documentation of the store’s standards and procedures, as well as training checklists. These documents will help the owner and the attendant stay accountable for what is expected of the new employee. Training checklists will also serve as a reference for an attendant once he or she begins working alone.
After an attendant understands the expectations an owner has for him or her, a hands-on training process with either the store owner or a veteran attendant should be next. It starts with a walk-through to explain how all aspects of the store operate, beginning with the equipment.
If the store features washer-extractors and tumble dryers with advanced control systems, store owners should make sure the new attendant understands the benefits of the controls. For example, if a control system has revenue-generating features such as multi-level and time-of-day pricing, attendants should know how and when these prices change in the event a customer has questions.
Should the store offer additional profit-generating amenities such as wash-dry-fold services, training may be a lengthier process as attendants will need to learn the proper sorting, processing and folding techniques. It is important for owners to review the output of a new attendant’s wash-dry-fold services to ensure it is up to their standards.
Cleaning is an essential aspect in an attendant’s day-to-day responsibilities, especially at the Kahans’ Friendly Wash stores.
“We expect our attendants to be able to clean the store from top to bottom,” Kahan explains. “It starts with cleaning the inside and outside of the machines, from the detergent areas, to the lint traps. Attendants need to take care of the equipment, as it’s the biggest investment for the store owner.”
Friendly Wash in Belmont Cragin recently began operating 24 hours during the weekend, which has proved to be a valuable cleaning time for Kahan’s attendants.
“We are a high-volume store, so it is important for us to give the store a thorough cleaning. In addition to helping the customers, the attendants working overnight complete an in-depth cleaning in preparation for the next day.”
ADDING A PERSONAL TOUCH
Depending on how hands-on an owner is in the day-to-day operation of their business, an attendant may end up being the face of the store for customers. This makes the service an attendant provides to customers that much more important.
At Friendly Wash, Kahan leads by example to ensure his attendants are providing the best customer service possible. “We try to create a welcoming environment and expect our attendants to be friendly and helpful,” he shares. “Sometimes it is helping a customer fold, or sometimes it is just catching up. We try to encourage our stores to be community meeting places, so we encourage our attendants to spend quality one-on-one time with the customers.”
If a new attendant is successfully able to execute his or her duties and provide great customer service, an owner should do whatever they can to retain the talent. Owners can implement incentive and recognition programs to reward employees and create a positive work environment.
“We do not experience a large amount of turnover because we try to create an environment that our people want to work in,” Kahan says.
Unfortunately, sometimes the attendants hired don’t work out, even if provided the proper training, a positive work environment and incentives or recognition.
Kahan’s recommendation to owners dealing with a problem attendant is simple: “You have to create expectations early. When you see an attendant deviating from these expectations, you need to address it right away. You can hope the person works with you to fix the issue, but if not, you need to make a change. There are always going to be people that do not care about the reputation of the store the way you do.”
For many stores like Friendly Wash, an attendant is the heart, soul, eyes and ears of an operation. With proper screening and training, an owner can set an attendant up for success, which in exchange helps the business succeed.
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.