An Outsider’s View: Add-On Customers are a Big Plus (Part 1)

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Howard Scott |

Just imagine if every washer and dryer in homes and apartments stopped working

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 rather than their own home to do their laundry. You can find people whose apartment complex coin-operated facilities are in a dingy room and 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.

I can hear Laundromat operators say, “What nonsense! Laundromat customers are those who don’t have facilities where they live, and are forced to use Laundromats.” Such naysaying is the stuff of resignation.

But listen to one add-on customer, Jim McKenna: “My apartment complex has washers and dryers but they are in a small, dark room and I have to put in quarters to work them. So I go two miles up the road to an airy, clean Laundromat to do my laundry every week.”

And to Jill Castle: “We’re so busy, between our work and the kids’ activities, that I’m delighted that a laundry picks up my clothes every Friday morning and returns them Saturday morning. They’re a lifesaver.”

And then to Anna Radocckia: “My condo has washers and dryers down the end of the hall, but my neighbors always want to get in there while I’m doing my laundry. Plus, I’m often out of tokens when I need them, and the office is closed. It’s such a hassle that I prefer to go in town to the Laundromat. I do this when I have other chores on Main Street. It’s easier.”

Jim McKenna, Jill Castle and Anna Radocckia are three testaments that add-on customers are real, out there, and ready for conversion. Each of these individuals has special needs that demand massaging. Each needs to be convinced, yes, but as their examples show, they can become active customers. The question is, what are you doing to win them over?

As we know, each new customer brings in $500 worth of business in a year. Win 20 new add-on accounts and your business jumps $10,000 ($500 X 20). Since no additional outlay is spent on these 20 customers, what would the additional patronage do for your bottom line? Most likely, $8,000 would fall into the profit pot.

But let’s think bigger. What would 100 new add-on accounts do to the bottom line? That’s $50,000 ($500 X 100) in additional revenue. Would it be worth it to hire a person to pick up and deliver the clothes? It might take him 12 hours a week at $15 an hour. That’s $180 a week, or $9,360 a year. Gas and maintenance of the vehicle could run $6,000 a year, and processing will cost $15,000. Therefore, revenue is $50,000 and expenses are $30,360 ($9,360 + $6,000 + $15,000). Your profit is $19,640. Is it worth the trouble? You bet it is.

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

Check back Thursday for the answers!

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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