CHICAGO — Earlier this year, we introduced “Incorporating Pickup and Delivery,” a three-part series exploring the hot service trend. Part 1 examined the labor and workflow considerations tied to such a service through the eyes of a trio of laundry owners.
This month, with the help of four more laundromat operators, we continue our series by assessing the use of delivery vehicles, computer software and potential add-ons the new service can require.
Once a laundry offers drop-off wash/dry/fold service, moving into pickup and delivery (PUD) can be a natural evolution. Especially when circumstances like a viral pandemic create big opportunities.
‘EVERYBODY HAS TO DO THEIR JOB WELL’
Lloyd Silver opened his Sage Laundry in Woodland, California, in May 2021 with self-service and drop-off service. He added PUD as 2022 began.
His community of 65,000 is surrounded by a much larger population, so “for us to be able to get out and go to customers just opened up our audience completely,” he says.
After looking at getting a panel van, Silver settled on a used Honda Element, which he calls a “fantastic starter for PUD.”
“They’re a very boxy, small SUV that has suicide doors and the tailgate opens fully. You can remove the back seats. We’ve had close to 1,000 pounds of laundry in there.”
He had vinyl decals with his business information professionally made and affixed to the vehicle in lieu of “wrapping it.”
“I would have loved to have wrapped it but I didn’t want to spend three grand to wrap it because I prefer to take that and buy a panel van sometime this year.”
Sage Laundry uses a point of sale system that doesn’t include PUD functions, so the tech-savvy Silver has pieced together other tools—including Calendly scheduling, Google Sheets, ActiveCampaign customer experience automation and the Integromat integration platform—to basically create his own PUD software that’s doing the job for now.
The laundry offers PUD during a three-hour window daily except Sunday, and Silver schedules his attendants so they alternate responsibility for the service. He says he’s close to needing dedicated drivers.
Everyone involved in the process—whether in the store or on the road—shares responsibility for providing quality service.
“I think it’s equal, dividing the roles of traditional wash-and-fold processor vs. the delivery driver. Everybody has to do their job well. If there’s any breakdown in that, the whole process looks bad.”
GOOD PORTION OF ORDERS DELIVERED BY FOOT
Todd Layne Cleaners & Laundromat in New York City differs from the other featured businesses in that its staff doesn’t drive to deliver most PUD orders.
“Because we’re in NYC and everything is so dense and concentrated, a good portion of our PUDs are done by foot” using carts, says founder and CEO Todd Ofsink. “We’ll use that up to about a 25-block radius.”
Over the years, he’s tried a variety of options for delivery, including Todd Layne personnel driving the company’s own vans.
“We’re working with a really good logistics company right now and anything that’s further away, outside of our smaller radius, they’re actually doing all of our PUDs for us,” Ofsink says. “We have sort of outsourced that function for anything beyond our immediate area.”
Even though Ofsink’s business doesn’t use its own delivery vehicles, he has a good idea of how he’d want them to look and perform: “We have to go back to the basics here. It’s one that’s properly maintained. B, it’s clean. C, it’s the right size, the right type of vehicle, like a crossover or SUV.”
Cargo capacity and vehicle shape are also important, he says, to allow easy access and to hold goods properly while being transported.
“Initially, when I first started the business (in 2006), there was no pickup and delivery,” Ofsink says. “Over the last few years, it has increased, especially throughout the pandemic, to a point where we’re probably at 80% of our customers, it’s all pickup-and-delivery-based.”
Todd Layne has multiple routes by time window, currently at 1-hour shifts, and was preparing to enhance its point of sale system.
“There are technologies out there to build PUD into the POS system,” Ofsink says. “We’ve looked at several of them. (The company we’re partnering with has) a clear understanding of the laundry business specifically and integrating the whole PUD function.”
In terms of storage, Ofsink can see the benefits a staging area with a series of alphabetized racks would offer the PUD provider.
He calls the laundry business “one of the toughest businesses out there” but says “it’s an amazing feeling, once you have all this worked out, and you work out the kinks.”
Miss Part 1 of this story? You can read it HERE.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected] .