An Outsider’s View: Add-On Customers are a Big Plus (Conclusion)

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Howard Scott |

It’s a strategy worth spending time and money on

PEMBROKE, Mass. — Your prime customer base includes those people who don’t have washers or dryers at home. That’s the core of the Laundromat trade, and that’s why it is advised, on seeking a good location, to have a 35% residency share of apartment dwellers.

Then there are add-on customers. These are individuals who have washer/dryer facilities at their homes, condos or apartment complexes but elect to wash their clothes at a Laundromat.

Add-on trade extends the potential market from 35% of the population to 100%. Just imagine if every washer and dryer in homes and apartments stopped working. What would that do to your business? All at once, the entire population would have to do their laundry at an outside facility. Lines would form outside the Laundromat from early morning to late at night, waiting for machines to be available. Such is the revolutionary impact of add-on customers.

Now, you are not going to get every home washer and dryer to stop working, but you still can win add-on customers. You can get people who prefer the sociability of a Laundromat. You can find people who prefer to do their clothes in an airy, clean Laundromat. You can win over people whose home laundry equipment breaks down and are forced to come to you but then enjoy the experience so much that they continue to patronize your shop.

You can convince busy families that it is easier for them to drop off clothes so that you can wash, dry and fold them for their pickup the next day. There are also those individuals who welcome your drop-off WDF service as a way to lessen their household chores. In simple terms, this add-on business concept means that the world is your oyster.

So how do you go about getting these add-on customers?

IDENTIFY AND WOO POSSIBLE PATRONS

If you speak to someone you identify as an add-on customer (one who prefers to use your Laundromat rather than do his/her cleaning at home or in an apartment complex), take note. Ask for names of others who live in his/her apartment building. Get in touch with them, by phone or letter, telling about your service. Go to the residence and leave circulars in the mailboxes. Hang around and try to speak to occupants coming and going. Explain how doing the laundry at your facility might be more enjoyable.

To do this well, size up the person, and guess what might win him or her over. Perhaps you encounter a younger, single guy. Suggest that your laundry is not a bad place to meet girls. Explain that it’s near a college, and many coeds do their cleaning there. If you encounter a mother with young children, offer that your store may be a good getaway trip. Promote the wonderful toys for young children you have there. Add that it’s probably safer to have them at the Laundromat (where many eyes are watching) than running in and out of the washroom. If it is a quiet, older person, suggest that visiting there early in the morning gives one all the privacy one needs, and in a comfortable setting, too.

Another technique is to go to a complex and insert info sheets beneath car windshield wipers. Always have a testimonial on these circulars. If possible, include a photo. A testimonial might go something like this: “I choose to use Deluxe Laundry rather than my building’s facility because it is more pleasant and gives me less hassles. I never have any problems.”

CREATE A DROP-OFF/PICKUP LAUNDRY SERVICE

At the start, you do the picking up and dropping off. Establish attractive prices to woo business. Make up a promo circular showing that your service won’t cost much more than two Starbuck coffees a week, and hand it out freely. The gist of the message is that “for $5 extra a week, we can make the laundry a totally painless process.”

To get prospects, send out postcard mailings to neighborhoods, place a series of ads in the weekly newspaper, and put up promo circulars in public places. On a busy Saturday, at the downtown shopping area, slide folded circulars beneath car windshield wipers. If you win one account, use them to get more customers in a neighborhood.

TELL EVERYONE YOU MEET

Make it a habit to promote your services to anyone you meet. Always remember that you have something to offer, something that the person alongside you might want. Tout the offer to everyone you come in contact with. That includes fellow Rotarians, bridge partners, co-workers, neighbors, family members, etc., as all are potential customers.

Get your share of add-on customers. It’s a strategy worth spending time and money on, because it will propel your business forward.

Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.

About the author

Howard Scott

Industry Writer and Drycleaning Consultant

Howard Scott is a former business owner, longtime industry writer and drycleaning consultant. He welcomes questions and comments and can be reached by writing Howard Scott, Dancing Hill, Pembroke, MA 02359; by calling 781-293-9027; or via e-mail at dancinghill@gmail.com.

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