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It’s Our Policy… (Part 1)

Setting policies, procedures helps establish expectations, encourage accountability

CHICAGO — From the moment you contemplated opening a laundromat, you probably had at least a vague idea of how you wanted to operate it: the work schedule, the level of service, the cleaning and maintenance, you name it.

And if your laundry was going to be attended in some manner, you’d need some way to organize your thoughts about its day-to-day operation, how certain tasks were to be performed, and whose job it would be to fulfill those responsibilities. The time would come for you to establish your policies and procedures.

Workplace policies are statements that help establish a clear understanding of the behavior and performance standards that a business expects of its employees. Workplace procedures are step-by-step instructions for performing routine tasks.

American Coin-Op polled a handful of store owners around the country to learn a little about the guidelines and protocols they produce, how they inform and educate their workforce about them, and what these owners say could happen if clear guidance in operations isn’t given to a laundry’s employees.

As a non-combat veteran, Cathy Neilley, owner of Spin Doctor Laundromat in Hamilton Township, N.J., says she likes to keep things buttoned up and efficient for her employees.

“There is an Operating Manual, a Training Guide, and lots of rules for staff to follow—the contents of which are tweaked and updated as needed. I get a bit of ribbing on it, but no one can argue with the benefits: the store wins ‘best of’ awards every year.”

“We have both a terms of service that our customers agree to and an employee handbook that our employees agree to,” says Kristyn Van Ostern, who co-owns Wash Street in Manchester, N.H.; it employs a team of four full-timers and five part-timers. “We also have a training manual that our managers keep updated for new hires.”

For the approximately 110 front-line 2ULaundry workers, the company documents “anything worthwhile” as operating procedures in its Notion Wiki online workspace, says Mark Vlaskamp, director of central operations. It connects everyone from “Product/Tech” to “Laundromat Operations” to “Franchisees” through the site, and all can share links and easily search for the topic, training or standard operating procedure that they need.

We have an extensive Employee Handbook, including their personnel work rules and operating procedures for laundry work,” says James Radovic, who owns two fully attended stores in the Florida communities of Jupiter and Stuart that combined employ a dozen people.

In Bellingham, Wash., Travis Unema oversees Brio Laundry and Brio Cleaners, which together employ 21 people in either part-time (under 30 hours per week) or full-time work (30-40 hours). Every team member must read and sign a 40-page employee manual before they are hired, he says.

I have them read it, ask questions and sign it in my office. It takes time but is worth it. Setting the expectations up front to the newest hire means they know exactly what to expect. And it defines rules that you/your manager can use for accountability.

(We have) monthly staff meetings with required attendance to provide updates and news about what’s going on. Whether it’s policy updates, new uniform, new store hours, price increases, etc., keep them informed and stick by what your policy is!”

In Part 2 on Tuesday: Getting everyone on the same page

It’s Our Policy

(Photo: © andrewde/Depositphotos)

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].