Is It Time to Raise Your Wash/Dry/Fold Price? (Conclusion)

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(Photo: ©iStockphoto/JannHuizenga)

Howard Scott |

Customers inclined to stay with WDF provider they use if no issues in past

PEMBROKE, Mass. — About 60% of Laundromats offer some version of wash-dry-fold (WDF) service. I notice that there is a stickiness to raising prices.

Certainly, maintaining a price is easy, comfortable and accommodating, but no price is ever fixed. Always, there are variables that encourage price increases.

Although your main concern is not what others are doing, check around your marketing region to find out what others charge for WDF. You might be surprised. If you think your price is the highest, you might discover that someone else charges more. If you think you are the lowest, you might discover that someone else is even lower. This exercise will give you a market range.

Depending on your area, you might be surprised to learn that the $1-per-pound price is no longer the industry standard. That barrier has been broken in the last few years.

Using a map of your general region (including several towns), put a dot by each store alongside its prices. Scan the market for trends, movements, whatever.

Then, see how your WDF volume interacts with your walk-in business.

Next, evaluate your costs, relatable to WDF. Labor is the first and largest cost. But allocated utilities, supplies, delivery and promotion also enter into the equation.

Next, has WDF volume grown in the past few years? If WDF is growing, that’s a strong statement for increasing prices.

Finally, what’s the tenor of the economy in your area?

If you have not raised prices in two years and your WDF volume is growing, give strong consideration to doing so. In my area in the Northeast, prices seem to range from $1.10 to $1.25 per pound. If your WDF service is not priced at the upper end, you should consider moving there. If you are at the upper end, it would not be difficult to go beyond it.

Let’s look at an example. Say you are currently priced at $1.15. Should you go to the next price break of $1.20? Or should you go up 10 cents to $1.25? Make it a rounded 10% increase. If all the other factors are in order, my advice would to be to make the jump to $1.25. Your indirect costs are going up every year, even though the direct costs only went up 4-5%. Besides, you want to more than cover cost increases.

You can’t sneak this increase by. Post a sign on the back wall. When a customer drops off clothes, inform him or her that the WDF price has gone up by a dime. Describing it as a “dime rise” mitigates the bad news of increasing prices. If you use a pickup service, have the delivery person insert a note in the door when he picks up the load.

If someone calls to complain, explain that increasing costs have forced you to raise this price. Note that the work is labor-intensive, and that means paying people a good wage to get quality output. Add that you are complying with the nation’s commitment to give everyone a livable wage. Above wages, state that the cost of doing business is increasing. Don’t go on and on; rather, two or three succinct sentences will do. The customer will take that information to decide.

There is a strong inclination for customers to stay with the WDF provider they currently use, particularly if there haven’t been issues in the past. However, there might be a few customers who balk at paying $1.25 and go searching for a new supplier. But you have a strong operation, and you are a good manager. You can manage without those few customers who only know price. Besides, they might try someone else and then return to you.

Doing business is always a balance between level of service, price and quality. Price, even where WDF service is concerned, is always the least important consideration.

If you missed Part 1, you can read it HERE.

About the author

Howard Scott

Industry Writer and Drycleaning Consultant

Howard Scott is a former business owner, longtime industry writer and drycleaning consultant. He welcomes questions and comments and can be reached by writing Howard Scott, Dancing Hill, Pembroke, MA 02359; by calling 781-293-9027; or via e-mail at dancinghill@gmail.com.

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