Keeping Good Laundromat Employees (Part 1)

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(Photo: © iStockphoto/Kevin Russ) 

Brian Brunckhorst |

First step is to make sure you hire one

SAN FRANCISCO — One of the biggest challenges facing most coin laundry owners is staffing.

According to the Coin Laundry Association’s 2016 Gold Book Survey, the average Laundromat, in 2015, had three employees and spent an average of 18% of its gross revenue on payroll. The survey also indicated that the industry was trending toward an increase in the number of attended coin laundries. This makes a lot of sense in today’s marketplace where customers are demanding better customer service and more services than ever before.

Getting the most from your attendant starts at the very beginning when you begin the hiring process and continues for as long as they work for you. There are lots of people looking for a job, but finding someone who has the qualities that you want representing you and your business and who will actually work is not so easy. The first step to keeping a good employee is to make sure you hire one.

So, what traits make a good laundry attendant? Here are some of what we look for when hiring an attendant (in no particular order): trainable/follows directions; honest; good work ethic/hard worker; bilingual; friendly/smiles a lot; outgoing; bubbly personality; shows up on time/reliable; attention to detail; and is a problem-solver.

Once you hire an attendant, there are some things that you must do if you want to keep them:

GIVE THEM CLEAR JOB EXPECTATIONS AND GOALS

In our company, there are three main components to the attendant’s job.

  • Customer Service – We expect and require exceptional customer service at all times. Our business is built upon the customer, and it is our job to make sure that they enjoy their washing experience with us.
  • Cleanliness – I can’t say it enough: If the store is clean, the customers will want to wash there.
  • Wash & Fold – We make sure that our attendants know that processing wash-and-fold is a big part of their job. But it is all about the quality and consistency.

Then, they have some additional responsibilities:

  • Maintain Good Communication with Store Supervisor – They need to talk to her at least twice a shift.
  • Dependability – We track it and their performance review, and future pay increases are affected by it.
  • Have Fun – We want our employees to enjoy the work they do and to take pride in knowing that they make a difference by serving our customers.

PROVIDE RESOURCES, THE FIRST BEING AN EMPLOYEE MANUAL OR HANDBOOK

A good employee handbook should contain a welcome letter; important contact numbers; a detailed job description; operating instructions for each type of washer and dryer; your customer service policy; daily duties, policies and procedures; and a summary of employee benefits.

Another resource I recommend you have is a quick reference guide/duties checklist. This will give your employees a list of the duties you expect them to handle each time they work. Here’s an example:

Attendant Duties

  • Clean windows
  • Remove lint from all dryers, top and bottom
  • Clean/remove built-up soap from soap dispensers in all washers
  • Sweep floors
  • Mop floors nightly and as needed (empty water bucket at least twice, i.e., empty after mopping half the store)
  • Wipe down folding tables and white bulkheads with all-purpose spray cleaner
  • Dust all washers and dryers by wiping down inside and outside of machines
  • Make sure nothing is left behind in the washers (please dry any wet clothes and record cost to dry [leave bag with left items using Left Clothing Report])
  • Empty all garbage cans (if not full, combine together so we don’t waste bags)
  • Keep back door closed and locked when you are not in the back room
  • Sweep parking lot once per shift
  • Take wash-and-fold orders
  • Fulfill wash-and-fold orders
  • Clean vending and video game machines using Windex only (no all-purpose spray cleaner)
  • Dust top of dryers, trim boards and windowsills
  • Pick up garbage around the Laundromat
  • Keep outside of Laundromat clean
  • Answer customer questions. Please be nice and talk to customers
  • Other duties as assigned

The last resource we provide is feedback through periodic reviews of work performance. Explain when you will be reviewing their work performance. In my stores, we do annual reviews of all employees in January and review new employees after their first 80 days.

Check back Tuesday for the conclusion!

About the author

Brian Brunckhorst

Store Owner

Brian Brunckhorst ([email protected]) is the owner of six Laundromats in the San Francisco Bay Area, president of the Golden State Coin Laundry Association, a real estate investor, author of Secrets of Buying and Owning Laundromats, and the Coin Laundry Association’s 2013 Member of the Year.

Brunckhorst went from the high-tech testing of computer networking software in Silicon Valley to the low-tech business of owning several Laundromats. He is dedicated to teaching fellow entrepreneurs how to find, evaluate, analyze, and buy a Laundromat (www.buyalaundromat.com) as well as improve its operations.

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