CHICAGO — Wash-dry-fold (WDF) services offered by laundries around the country have grown in popularity in recent years. A customer visiting a Laundromat to drop off their clothes and then return once they have been cleaned is commonplace. Some businesses may even offer pickup and delivery so the customer doesn’t have to leave their home.
When the novel coronavirus pandemic hit this spring, the push to wear masks and socially distance no doubt had some walk-in customers asking themselves if it was worth heading inside the Laundromat to do their laundry. Yet another factor encouraging patrons to try a WDF service.
But whereas walk-in customers using a Laundromat are responsible for the cleaning and handling of their own clothes, a laundry offering WDF service accepts that responsibility.
The service offering brings the possibility of greater volume and thus greater revenue but it also tasks the laundry with keeping track of a customer’s goods from acceptance, through cleaning, to delivery. Order taking and tracking can be done with a piece of paper and pencil but there are computer-aided solutions—point of sale (POS) systems—available today with the ability to do all that and more in a fraction of time it would take even the speediest of attendants.
In previous parts of this article, we got to know the basics and examined POS capabilities and customer benefits. Let’s conclude today by exploring what’s involved in taking a WDF service digital.
GOING DIGITAL NOT DIFFICULT, EXPERTS SAY
For Laundromats that are just starting to offer WDF service, or for those with an ongoing volume of less than $2,000 a month, then paper-based systems are still sufficient, according to Brian Henderson, president of Wash-Dry-Fold POS, a company that provides hardware, software, credit card payment processing, and owner training. But there’s no need to fear switching to a computer-based system.
“A POS system makes transactions easier, faster, more consistent and more accountable but the basics of what’s needed remains the same.”
“Firstly, the easiest thing to, in that step in becoming digital, is just getting started with a free trial of something,” says Rohan Bedi, head of sales for CleanCloud, a cloud-based, multifaceted POS platform. “Or speaking to someone who’s using a system or testing one out online. And from there, in terms of setting up, it should be very simple. Adding customers to the system, adjusting it for them, should be easy to map out for them. Initiating that change is the biggest thing.”
“It has never been easier to upgrade from paper to POS,” says Nick Chapleau, CEO and co-founder of Starchup, which offers a web-based POS platform. “A good POS system will have an intuitive interface, detailed in-app help sections and walk-throughs, and, of course, include the full training and customer support required to get the service running smoothly.”
Length of training depends on how intuitive the POS interface is and how effective the training and support materials are, he adds: “We have seen that it usually takes an employee just one or two training sessions to grasp the system, and 1-2 weeks to master it.”
“I had a laundry owner fly out from New York to California to check out our operations,” says Aaron Simmons, who created the Curbside Laundries wash-and-fold software solution with brother Matt. “He had never used a laundry POS before. He watched our attendant run a single transaction and then he did the next one.”
Many Laundromat owners were drawn to this industry by the promise of little to no inventory, minimal staff, and mostly self-service customer income with infrequent customer service issues, says Henderson, and adding drop-off service creates an environment within which ownership must be heavily involved.
“It is our goal and hope … to help Laundromat owners regain most of that freedom that drew them to this industry by computerizing their systems so that the attendants can deliver consistently excellent service on time and at the right price.”
The biggest challenge when implementing a POS system, he says, is getting the attendants on board, because many think the computer complicates things.
“But once they realize that their job is actually made easier and faster and their customers are served better, then they warm up to it quickly and can become some of the system’s biggest proponents.”
Curbside’s Matt Simmons cautions laundry owners to make certain the POS system they select can grow with them.
“If you know you’re going to add pickup and delivery, it makes sense to get the right software solution from the start,” he says. “Who wants to retrain their employees on software when they’re adding a whole new revenue stream to their business?”
“It’s a really transformational time, especially now for the industry in general,” Bedi says, referencing the months-old coronavirus pandemic. “The business owners across the country, everyone has experienced some issue with their business recently, regardless of how big or small you are, so looking to adapt and change is very important.
“Whatever way you choose to do it, whether it’s through a computerized POS or changing the nature of your store, how it can operate, like redesigning the workflow, how customers can interact, is what every owner should be looking to do. We want everyone staying healthy and safe.”
“I’ve been a big proponent of WDF pickup and delivery my whole career,” says Rick Rome, who founded and owns WashClubTrak, an all-in-one laundry and drycleaning POS system for walk-in or drop-off business. “I just want everyone to know that they can do it. They absolutely can do it, and should be doing it because that’s where the customer is going.”
If you missed previous parts of this article, you can read them HERE and HERE.