CHICAGO — Earlier this year, we introduced “Incorporating Pickup and Delivery,” a three-part series exploring the hot service trend. Part 1 in February examined the labor and workflow considerations tied to such a service through the eyes of a trio of laundry owners. Part 2 in May featured several more owners who assessed the use of delivery vehicles, computer software and potential add-ons the new service can require.
As our series concludes this month, laundry service owners who contributed earlier return to answer our questions about marketing and promoting their service.
Q: DO YOU MARKET OR PROMOTE YOUR LAUNDRY PICKUP AND DELIVERY SERVICE AS A) PART OF YOUR OVERALL OPERATION OR B) ITS OWN THING?
Mark Vlaskamp, co-owner and managing partner of The Folde, a laundry pickup and delivery service that relies on laundromats it owns in Houston and Austin, Texas, as processing hubs: We operate the laundromats and the delivery service under different brands at the moment. It tends to be two different customer bases that hardly ever overlap. This is temporary, though; it’s simply a function of us purchasing pre-existing laundromats with existing brands. In our purchase agreements, we set a defined number of years that we can operate under the current laundromat brand.
Right now, our [return on investment] is best in two places: 1) adding more laundromats or 2) growing the PUD business. However, the time to rebrand is coming soon. It's our plan to do a full rebrand of the laundromats, bringing them under The Folde brand. I'm excited for the rebrand when that time comes. The opportunity to improve SEO, operating efficiencies, and brand recognition across both businesses is a lot to be excited about.
Kristyn Van Ostern, co-owner of Wash Street, a laundry services company based in Manchester, New Hampshire: We market it as part of our overall service now.
Colleen Unema, owner of Brio Laundry, Bellingham, Washington: We market it as part of our whole service package. When they need it, it is available. If they want to arrange for a loved one, it is there. Just part and parcel of our commitment to being there for them.
Lloyd Silver, owner of Sage Laundry, Woodland, California: We’re currently marketing our self-service, drop-off, and pickup and delivery laundry service under one brand. When we opened our first location in 2021, we only offered self-service and drop-off laundry service – no pickup and delivery. It made sense to do both under the same brand, since in both cases the overall goal was to get someone to come into the store. A secondary goal was to convert self-service customers to drop-off. Additionally, we expected to drive a lot of traffic through Google Maps, and Google guidelines would not allow us to have two related brands under the same address. Therefore, consistent branding for both services was required.
Todd Ofsink, owner of Todd Layne Cleaners & Laundromat, New York City: It’s an interesting question, because we do a little bit of both. We recognize that there is a market for PUD and non-PUD customers and that they have unique characteristics. While many of our marketing efforts are aimed at all customers, we do segment and target PUD customers with specific offers like 99-cent delivery options with a quick 30-minute window in New York City. Other offers include percentage or dollar discounts at a higher minimum order size for PUD customers. Our non-PUD customers are a little more price-conscious and we offer additional discounts for them.
Hank Nelken, owner of three Half-Price Laundry locations in California’s San Fernando Valley: We market as part of the overall operation. That said, we target areas outside the local area around our stores specifically for pickup and delivery. We have a [website] landing page that takes customers to information about pickup and delivery. They can still access the rest of the website, but that is a good way to provide specific information to targeted customers.
Q: HOW HAS YOUR BUSINESS BENEFITED BASED ON YOUR MARKETING CHOICE?
Van Ostern: Actually, it was market demand that made us realize we should promote it as part of the overall service. Last year, we discovered pickup and delivery made up over 75% of our total business.
Unema: We have found that it becomes “assumed.” ‘I am having knee surgery next week. Can you set me up for pickup over the next couple weeks?’ Of course. So easy. We know how to do their laundry and now we just help them out.
Silver: We launched pickup and delivery services in mid-2021 and continued operating under the same brand. The primary benefit was that we were able to leverage the reputation we had been creating for our store with over 60 5-star reviews. Being able to promote ourselves as the highest-rated laundromat in our area made it easier to build trust with customers considering us for pickup-and-delivery laundry service.
I have been giving thought as to whether it makes sense to break off the pickup and delivery service into its own brand. The primary benefit would be a very focused customer experience. We’d have a website 100% dedicated to pickup and delivery, which I believe would offer a better experience and improved conversions from visitors to leads and customers.
Ofsink: Because we have a segmented approach, it has been beneficial for us to market directly to PUD customers. Over time, the percentage of our customers that use this service is becoming larger and larger. Convenience, trust, time saving, easy scheduling and quick delivery windows are the main components of what our customers are looking for.
Nelken: Since we launched the new website including pickup and delivery, there has been a steady increase in customers finding us on the internet as our domain authority has increased.
Vlaskamp: There are inefficiencies associated with managing the laundromat brand separate from the delivery laundry service. While I suspect the customer bases won't overlap much more than they currently do, the improved efficiency will come on the back end with our marketing, customer support, and local brand recognition.
Check back Tuesday for Part 2!
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].