RIPON, Wis. — Wireless technology. Card payment systems. Wash alerts via e-mail. This isn’t your average, run-of-the-mill, mom-and-pop Laundromat anymore. Welcome to the future of Laundromats in the digital age.
The advancements in technology, and the way in which Laundromats operate today, has changed significantly during the last 20 years, or even the last two years.
With millions of Internet users, technology innovations and advancements with wireless networks, to name a few, the laundry industry has adjusted to a more sophisticated investor and tech-savvy customer.
THE SOPHISTICATED INVESTOR
Just as the demands have increased for more technologically enhanced laundry equipment, so have the demands of the Laundromat investor. It’s estimated nearly two-thirds of store owners today do not consider owning a Laundromat a full-time job. In fact, this is how they want it and why they chose to invest in Laundromats in the first place.
“It’s a matter of sheer convenience,” says Marvin Gokey, owner of Village Laundromat in Bath, N.Y. Gokey opened his first Laundromat in 2012 with his wife Melissa, calling the investment a ‘win-win.’
“We were looking for an investment opportunity where we would see positive financial results within the first year and at the same time allow us to pursue other passions. We’ve been fortunate to have a thriving business within the first year, while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.”
OPERATING ON YOUR TERMS
Many new investors, like Gokey, are looking for a business they can operate on their own terms. Today’s cutting-edge technologies and control systems for washer-extractors and tumble dryers give store owners the freedom to run their business their way, while maximizing profitability. Revolutionary technology combines equipment controls and programming into one, full-store management system — helping owners adjust cost structure, reduce utility costs and increase revenue from any computer, anywhere in the world.
The more sophisticated software technology provides instant feedback and in-depth reporting, giving owners a comprehensive look at machine operations as well as valuable business information. The technology analyzes output average totals, turns per day and revenue details, allowing owners to make smart, informed business decisions to positively impact the bottom line.
Another added benefit in the advancement of technology is the ability to strategize a pricing structure. Time-of-day pricing technology allows owners to take advantage of peak laundry hours and boost usage during typically slower periods. In some cases, owners can customize their price settings according to the traffic volume of their store. Machines are set to charge premium prices when the store is at its busiest and offer specialty rates during off-peak hours to further maximize revenue stream.
In addition, multi-level pricing allows the store owner to charge different prices for each wash cycle. A common example would be to charge different prices for hot, warm and cold washes. Less energy is used to heat the water, and utility bills are lowered overall when customers seek the less expensive cold wash cycle.
Another cost-saving measure is to choose a G-force spin speed option on washer-extractors. The faster extraction speed feature can remove excess water from the load—in some cases, up to ½ gallon of water—leading to shorter dry times and lower energy bills. This higher spin speed helps move customers through the store faster and cuts gas usage by as much as 15%.
THE TECH-SAVVY CUSTOMER
As sophisticated as the new investor is, the new-age customer sets the technology bar even higher. For the customer, it’s all about flexibility and convenience. Equipping a Laundromat with the latest in wireless technology is one way for store owners to ensure loyalty from the current generation of tech-savvy customers.
There are many technology innovations targeting this new generation of customers. One example is a customized website that allows customers to see the status of their laundry, including wash cycles and time remaining. Another technology advancement allows customers to opt-in to receive e-mail notifications when their laundry is done.
Ensuring customer safety and encouraging loyalty because of its convenience are the two strongest factors in instituting a card payment system. Now customers don’t have to scrounge around for that one last quarter or head to the bank for another roll. Card payment systems allow customers to wash and dry loads with their debit or credit cards, or purchase a reloadable card through the Laundromat.
Cashless laundries are also convenient for owners, who no longer have to collect and transport large amounts of coins from their machines to the bank.
To attract more business and further improve profitability, it’s critical for a store owner to market a store in the Digital Age. Most people today obtain their information from the Internet. A simple solution: If a store owner doesn’t already have a website, they should invest in one. Owners can draw customers to their site by including the Web address on their local advertising pieces as well as social media outlets.
Not to be left behind in the growing social media movement, many Laundromat investors are starting the conversation using online tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Foursquare. Opening a Facebook page to promote a store is easy and, best of all, it’s free. In many cases, social media sites are replacing typical marketing and advertising dollars as a low-cost alternative to getting the word out.
Gokey says starting a Facebook page was a great way to connect with his customer base.
“We realized that most of our customers find their news online. We needed an environment which was familiar to our customers and one they would frequent for our store promotions and news.”
Combining leading technology with superior-quality laundry equipment works to ensure a Laundromat moves out of the dark ages and into a more sophisticated, tech-savvy environment. By implementing the latest technology innovations, from a wireless network to launching a social media site, store owners will have loyal customers long into the future.