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Preventing Abuse of Laundry Equipment, Furnishings (Part 2)

Pointers from Paulie B: Some more ideas for ‘people-proofing’ your laundromat

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sooner or later, some people will abuse your laundromat, either from general rough treatment or even deliberately. Kids can be a steady source of abuse, from climbing on carts and swinging on doors or more.

There are a lot of angry people out there walking among us, and not many people enjoy having to do their laundry in the first place, so some may come to your mat already in a bad mood.

Aside from doing what you can to get the best “people-proofed” equipment and furnishings, I have some ideas for how you can prevent abuse. I presented some in Part 1 and continue here in Part 2:

Remove Graffiti Immediately — Depending on where you’re located, it’s not unusual to see lots of graffiti on commercial and government buildings, and maybe even some homes. Have you ever noticed that you rarely see graffiti on a tree? This is because graffiti artists have an anti-authority attitude. A tree never screamed at them, neglected them, or abused them as a child, therefore they have no beef with nature.

You must nip graffiti in the bud, because it is the genesis for other crimes. Once it starts, it keeps on coming. I believe it encourages other types of vandalism, such as deliberately scratching your laundry equipment (no different than someone keying a car, in my view).

It scares away good customers, so get rid of all graffiti.

Put In a “Kiddie Korner” — If you don’t want little kids running in your mat, slamming doors, riding carts and climbing into washers and dryers, try keeping them occupied with a kids corner. You have to make it nice and include things that will attract them.

If it’s done right, you’ll have kids begging their parents to do the laundry at your place, rather than your competitor’s.

Obviously, don’t make any crayons or marking pens available. You also don’t want balloons or stickers, as both are choking hazards. So what can you get that they can’t steal, use to mark things up, or swallow?

I used electronic teaching toys like beginner’s laptops for ages 2-6. One costs less than $50. You will have to chain them down, of course, and change batteries every so often.

You should also buy school-grade tables and chairs. Make sure they’re sturdy because some grown-ups will try to sit in them.

It’s also good to keep some extra games in the back so you can switch them up to avoid boring children who are there a lot.

Dedicating one TV to children’s shows can really help as well.

Hold Parents Responsible for Their Children — Because some parents let their kids run wild, I was able to tone it down a little by putting up a sign that read: “Parents Will be Held Responsible for Any Damage Done by Their Children.” That sign, along with your surveillance system, can help. You may want to add another sign: “All Activity in This Store is Recorded by Camera.”

Keep Laundry Equipment in Great Working Condition — If you have one or two machines out of order, that’s not a problem. But if you have five or six machines that are down, you know what happens? You spook your customers. They’ll be wondering if the machines they chose are OK, so they will micromanage them. Some people will start imagining things are wrong even when they’re not.

And if you leave machines open for use that you know have issues, you risk angering customers who will respond by banging on the machines, slamming doors, even kicking around chairs.

This is especially true if they see the problem machines are not getting fixed after weeks of malfunctions and non-use. It’s so easy for certain people to “go ballistic,” so in this case, the resulting customer vandalism will be your own fault for neglecting to properly fix your equipment.

Attendants Can Help a Great Deal — Having friendly people overseeing your mat will make a huge difference. You may save money by not staffing your laundromat but how much are you losing from vandalism and strangers who decide to make your laundromat their home?

When attendants help guide customers for a satisfying laundry experience, those same customers will tend to respect the store more. I even had some customers grab a rag and wipe down washers because they had nothing else to do and wanted to keep “their” laundromat nice.

You want friendly, happy people working in your mat because customers will bond with them and will be much less likely to abuse the store.

Check back for the conclusion on Tuesday

Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE

Preventing Abuse of Laundry Equipment, Furnishings

Author Paul Russo says signs instructing customers about how much soap to use and where to pour it into washers were a great help in preventing unnecessary messes or damage. He suggests checking with your distributor about availability for your equipment brand. (Photo courtesy Paul Russo)

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].