CHICAGO — Self-service laundries located in smaller communities or rural or remote locations don’t have the vehicular or foot traffic numbers of their big-city brethren. Opportunities to garner business may be fleeting.
These small-town businesses are often community-minded and place a premium on building personal relationships with the members of their customer base. Let’s meet one of them today:
LET’S GO TO PARTY COVE!
Jessica Haney and her husband Chris are fairly new to the laundry industry, having opened Jess’s Laundry Wash & Fold in Lake Dallas, Texas, just one year ago this month.
The northeast Texas community of approximately 8,000 residents lies about 30 minutes north of Dallas. It’s one of four cities surrounding Lake Lewisville, a mammoth recreational lake with 233 miles of shoreline and a well-known hangout spot known as Party Cove.
“That’s the benefit to it being a small town, surrounded by the other little towns that are based around the lake,” Haney says of Lake Dallas.
Jess’s Laundry Wash & Fold covers 2,100 square feet and offers customers 16 front loaders ranging in capacity from 30 to 100 pounds, and 16 dryers. All of the smaller-capacity machines are stacked: washer on bottom, dryer on top.
The attended laundromat has become a welcome part of the community but the pandemic didn’t make that easy.
“We had signed a lease at our location and one week later, it got shut down because of COVID,” Haney says. “We had not even gotten approved yet. We had not gone before the council yet.”
By that, Haney meant that the business hadn’t received the zoning approval it would need because of its planned location. But the OK eventually came and Lake Dallas’ only laundromat was constructed.
It was the lack of a laundry that prompted Haney to open one.
“They were unloading the moving truck and I said, ‘Don’t take in any of the blankets or anything like that. Just load them up in my car and I’ll go to the local laundromat.’ I started driving around and discovered that there wasn’t a laundromat here any longer.”
She complained to her husband, who ultimately challenged her to do something about it, so she did.
Haney says she’s had other businesses before and that she is dedicated to getting to know the people she serves personally.
“My customers instantly become friends,” she says. “I have this kid who works for me and he said, ‘It’s so funny, you don’t say ‘customer,’ you say ‘friend.’”
At present, the laundry’s revenue is fairly evenly split between walk-in and drop-off business. Haney says she strives to provide consistency in service.
“I don’t care if we have 22 drop-offs that day or we have three, I want them all done the exact same way, just like it’s going home to our closet, and that’s what I stress,” she says.
But apart from that, when someone walks in her laundry, they know they’re going to be noticed and welcomed.
“It doesn’t matter if we’re wiping down a sink in the restroom, if we hear that door, we’re to stop what we’re doing and make sure that we acknowledge that customer.”
A year in business and Haney is already set to expand. She just placed an order for additional laundry equipment; the plan is to establish a separate area in an adjoining property solely for wash-and-fold work.
“To be in an area like me, you need to not just be in it to come in during evenings to collect coins,” Haney says. “That’s not going to build your business in these small (communities). What’s going to build your business is being there to encounter customers and building relationships with them.”
Check back Thursday for the conclusion!
If you missed Part 1, you can read it HERE.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected] .