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Laugh, and the World Will Launder at Your Store

Howard Scott |

PEMBROKE, Mass. — Humor and a coin laundry doesn’t exactly sound like a natural combination. In fact, nobody connects humor with his or her local Laundromat. I’ve never heard a comedian make a joke that has anything to do with commercial cleaning establishments. That’s why you should strive for a touch of humor.

Why? It’s because humor is a positive force of nature. It helps dispel frustration and annoyance, puts good vibes in the air, and makes a person think less about his problems and more about the ironies in life. It erases fear. We always need more humor.

Let’s start with the name of your business. Two fun names I’ve come across are 1) Captain Bubble and 2) The Bubblette.

Captain Bubble conveys a larger-than-life character that will do your wash perfectly. The bald-headed character Mr. Clean on the label of the same-named cleaning solution comes to mind. In fact, the Mr. Clean character pictured on the bottles and featured in TV commercials has helped make the product one of the biggest sellers in its market. He makes you think strong, muscular, capable.

Bubblette has a different connotation—French, delicate, sudsy. But you also think of clean, well-scrubbed clothes, and the pleasant-smelling fleur-de-lis lavender flowers from the south of France.

These two Laundromats are real places, and I’m sure many customers get a chuckle every time they wash their clothes at one of them.

Come up with an identity that incorporates the virtues of a good Laundromat—spaciousness, new machinery, efficient operation, and fast wash/dry/fold service.

How about a “super-clean” hero who wears a blue cape and churns out clean clothes faster than a speeding bullet? Or a washer lady who takes care to make sure everything is extra-clean and stain-free? You could feature a delivery demon that delivers your clothes with minimum fuss and maximum speed every time.

How about a bandana-wearing, sailor’s-cap-doffing fish that weaves through the water to make sure every bit of dirt and grime is removed? Consider a patch-eyed pirate with a hook who carries a flag emblazoned with “The Cleanest Clothes in Town.” Every one of these characters has marketing potential.

Invent a character you favor and fashion him/her around your operation. Use this “spokesman” on all paperwork, vehicles, signs, front, etc. Place him/her front and center in any newspaper ads or marketing programs. All vehicles should emphasize the character’s identity. Put an identifying logo on each machine. Have staffers wear logo shirts.

When prospects see the image of your deep-sea character, they will know it’s a mailing from your company and be more apt to open it up. When passing your store, prospects will notice the larger-than-life hero soaring above the store sign and a smile will form on their lips. When their washers are broken at home, they will envision your pirate; that’s the place where they can clean their clothes. When someone asks about an area Laundromat, the image of your washer lady will pop into the listener’s mind and he will direct the person to your business.

Hang a humorous sign or two in your store. How about “We buff cannons,” for the pirate motif? Or “We make your blankets sleep-able,” alongside a kitten sleeping on a blanket? Or “We’ve cleaned over 6,000,000 garments,” to mimic McDonald’s iconic signs about numbers of hamburgers sold?

I’m partial to clever quotations, such as:

  • Even a fish wouldn’t get into trouble if he kept his mouth shut. — Anonymous
  • When everything seems to be going against you, remember that an airplane takes off against the wind. — Henry Ford
  • You should always go to other people’s funerals; otherwise they won’t come to yours. — Yogi Berra
  • An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind. — Mahatma Gandhi

Any of these pieces on a wall provides entertainment to your waiting customer. They might even think, “I’m learning something here.” Rotate these quotations periodically, and you will have customers wanting to come back to see what your walls are “saying” this month.

Create a sandwich sign for the front of the store that reads, “Through these portals go the cleanest people in the world.” Or, in the back of the shop, seat a life-size mannequin clown in a chair and hang a sign around its neck reading, “Cleanliness is not only next to godliness; it’s inside each machine.” Above the washbasin, hang this sign: “Wash your hands before cleaning your clothes. We want you to be cleaner than clean.” In the bathroom, post a sign that reads, “Don’t even thinkof not washing your hands.”

Who would not smile at seeing any of these bits of business? The fact that they all emphasize cleanliness can’t help but be a plus. Any mental stroke that introduces clean into the customer consciousness can only prove beneficial. Subconsciously, your patrons will feel they are really cleaning their clothing.

Know an artist? Commission him or her to create a life-sized sculpture of a woman sitting in a chair and washing clothes using an old-fashioned wooden washboard. My vision is of an all-white plaster sculpture similar to the works of George Segal, with a sign affixed: “It’s easier nowadays, isn’t it?” Commission an artist to paint a mural on the outside of the building that features cultural icons—for example, Groucho Marx, Brigitte Bardot, Babe Ruth, Abraham Lincoln and Barbara Streisand in various stages of washing clothes, with the caption—“Our customer list has no shortage of famous people.” Think that would make passers-by smile?

All these suggestions display a sense of humor to customers, which shows the owner/manager is not above being playful. Any owner who doesn’t take himself/herself too seriously can’t be a monster. In this day and age of deadpan seriousness and fast-paced materialism, such levity would be refreshing. Or as they say, “Laugh, and the world will laugh with you.”

Try it in a small way at first and expand from there. It might even make you smile each time you enter your store.

About the author

Howard Scott

H&R Block

Industry Writer, Drycleaning Consultant, and H&R Block Tax Preparer

Howard Scott is a longtime industry writer and drycleaning consultant, and an H&R Block tax preparer specializing in small businesses. He welcomes questions and comments, and can be reached by writing Howard Scott, Dancing Hill, Pembroke, MA 02359.

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