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 Part 1, we got to know the basics. Let's continue today by looking at POS capabilities and customer benefits.
HOW CAPABLE CAN IT BE?
What capabilities should a laundry owner expect from a POS system?
“At its most basic a POS should provide the ability to take payment for the services and products offered by the laundry,” says Nick Chapleau, CEO and co-founder of Starchup, which offers a web-based POS platform. “After that, a good POS will include a CRM for saving customer data and history, flexible price lists, and employee management. An advanced POS will help your laundry grow with customer SMS and email communication, marketing, and customer-facing apps, and maintain efficiency with sophisticated reporting and workflow and delivery tracking.”
Brian Henderson is president of Wash-Dry-Fold POS, a company that provides hardware, software, credit card payment processing, and owner training for stores looking to modernize their operations. He says there are certain requirements of a Laundromat POS system that are unique to the industry. Among them are the ability to create invoices payable either at time of drop-off or later at pickup when the laundry is done, to track and invoice commercial accounts for monthly billing, and to store/print customer-specific information on the order receipt, such as someone’s laundering preferences or when their order is due to be completed.
“There are surprisingly few POS systems in existence that handle both situations,” he says of the invoice need, “and most Laundromats frequently do a mixture of both.”
“First is customer management,” counts Rohan Bedi, head of sales for CleanCloud, a cloud-based, multifaceted POS platform. “The customers are at the heart of what they do, so being able to manage their customers in a good way … being able to communicate, either through notifications or a two-way communication. That’s very important.
“Also, being able to actually manage the operations themselves. There’s the cleaning, the tracking of machines as well. Maintaining and repairing machines can be very important and should be managed from the same system.”
“Good software for Laundromats should allow you to manage the process from beginning to end,” says Aaron Simmons, who created the Curbside Laundries wash-and-fold software solution with brother Matt. It should be able to track orders, remember customer preferences, log which machines were used with each order, log how much was spent to fill each order, track poundage laundered by employee, text customers when order is ready, and more. “Automation creates a consistent customer experience, makes it easier to train employees, and helps eliminate mistakes.”
“I think the laundry business is not terribly complicated, for the most part, but there are a thousand 3-minute tasks,” says Rick Rome, who founded and owns WashClubTrak, an all-in-one laundry and drycleaning POS system for walk-in or drop-off business. “Every day, there’s a new thousand and you do your best to get through them. … Being able to offload 75%, if not more, of those 3-minute tasks to automation will save you a lot of hair and a lot of time.”
HOW THE CUSTOMER BENEFITS
What benefits does a POS-equipped laundry bring to its WDF customers?
“In a word: consistency,” says Henderson. “A major challenge to a Laundromat’s delivery of excellent customer service is the lack of a manager or owner’s presence throughout the day to ensure consistency. A computer-based POS system helps address this in several ways.”
“It’s better order management, so they’re able to manage everything that’s coming from the customers themselves,” says Bedi. “Whether they’re using laundry cards or different kinds of systems to manage their machines, they should be able to manage those particularly well through the system.
“The other part is the customer communication: being able to communicate with the customer about order statuses, any issues or changes. That should be able to be conveyed really easily.”
“Wash-dry-fold customers benefit from the improved customer experience that a POS offers,” Chapleau says. “Off the bat, their experience is improved just by the improved efficiency of the laundry using POS software. Reduced risk of lost items and improved speed and reliability give customers peace of mind. Additionally, SMS and email notification and receipts, as well as the ability to view order information and update their information through an app, keeps the customer updated on their order and engaged with the provider.”
Coming in Thursday’s conclusion: the ease of going digital
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.