PEMBROKE, Mass. — You’ve heard the term “turns,” right? You know it has to do with the number of times your machines are used every day. You probably even know how to roughly figure out your turns, by adding total machine cycles (top loader, front loader or dryer) per week, dividing by the total number of machines in that category, then dividing that result by 7. If you combine the turns for every equipment category and divide by 3, that is the store’s turns per day.
Say your top loaders have churned out 350 cycles a week, and you have 20 top-load washers. You divide 350 by 20, which equals 17.5. You divide that figure by seven days and your daily top-load turns equals 2.5. Finally, you’ve heard that turns per day is an important profit index, but frankly you’re too busy getting the workload out to worry about statistics.
An operator’s typical response might sound something like this: “Look, I want to satisfy my customers, so my first responsibility is to have enough machines available. If, on a busy Saturday morning, 10 customers come in wanting 30-pound washers, and I only have eight, then someone has to wait or the person has to upgrade to a 50-pound unit if one is available. Another customer might walk out. I don’t want that to happen.”
That’s true, you don’t want a customer to wait. But absence of customers waiting with minimum profitability is no way to run a business. Otherwise, you would have unlimited machines, and never have a customer wait.
We will hammer away at this concept of turns per day until you modify your “no wait” dictum. The key is to have just enough machines to minimize wait times. Another way to say the same thing is to have just enough machines to take care of normal business.
Second, once you achieve that level, your task is to get as much business in the store to keep the machines busy for as many hours a day as possible. One way to achieve this is to take on wash/dry/fold volume that can be done during slow hours.
If you could do your wash/dry/fold work from 5 to 10 p.m., or in the early morning, say, from 5 to 9 a.m., you will achieve a high turn rate. Another option is to run sales, lower selective prices, or give 2-for-1 options that rev up trade, although this strategy compromises your margins.
A third idea is to realign machine composition. That might mean taking five machines out and putting them in another store. All these strategies serve to boost your turns per day.
Most importantly, a good turn rate conveys a busy operation. Is your business an active facility, where there are bunches of people there much of the time? Are odd times—evenings, early mornings—being utilized, perhaps because prime time is so busy? When filled, does your store exude a feeling of familiarity, a whiff of conviviality, a pleasure in the comfort in numbers?
Walk into any Trader Joe’s grocery around the country, and there’s always a crowd, always a bustling atmosphere, always people meeting and greeting each other, which makes people want to shop there. This good cheer exists even though shopping is a pedestrian, less-exciting-than-watching-TV kind of activity. And yet everyone feels uplifted when walking into Trader Joe’s and seeing the enthusiastic crowd. It is this commercial good cheer in numbers that a Laundromat generating a high number of turns per day will achieve.
Check back Wednesday for the conclusion!