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Put the ‘Unity’ in Community

People like to support businesses that take active interest in their community

CHICAGO — In many ways, your self-service laundry business is a “community service.” By providing the means to clean clothes, you’re helping to improve the lives of your neighbors. Wearing clean clothes raises one’s self-esteem and gives one greater confidence to meet and interact with others. Having clean clothes could mean the difference between getting and keeping a job or being passed over and left out of work.

But is your small business connected within the community you’re serving? You know, people like to support businesses that take an active interest in their local community. But what does that level of interest look like?

There are plenty of ways that you can demonstrate your laundry’s community interest, and what follows are just a few. If these don’t strike you, put your imagination and passion to the test and come up with your own.

  • Support Other Businesses in Your Community — This one is simple. By supporting other businesses near you, they—and their customers—will be more likely to support you, too.
  • Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce — Your city or area may have a chamber of commerce, a local association to promote and protect the interests of the business community. Member benefits can include inclusion in directories and promotional materials; networking opportunities, both personal and business-to-business; and participation in community events.
  • Find Local Causes Your Business Can Get Behind — Donate a portion of your profits to a local charity (like Wisconsin’s Oshkosh Express Laundry Center did for a cancer patient fund), or volunteer your time to an organization. And encourage your employees to volunteer their time locally to a cause of their choice.
  • Participate in Food Drives — Encourage your employees and customers to bring in unopened non-perishable canned and boxed foods that can be donated to local food banks. You may even find that you can offer a small food pantry of your own; that’s what the Wash-O-Rama Laundromat in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, has done.
  • Sponsor a Local Sports Team — Whether it’s baseball, football or soccer, many communities offer youth sports programs, and they often offer sponsorship opportunities. Sponsor a team for a season and see your laundry’s name emblazoned on a child’s or teen’s uniform for spectators to see game after game.
  • Offer Your Store as a Meeting Place — Local groups often need a place to meet, particularly as their numbers grow, and your store might be the perfect place. You don’t want such things to interfere with your paying customers, of course, but that group that can’t afford to rent space will be mighty appreciative of your hospitality.
  • Set Up Your Own Library — Create a “community” library box where customers can pick up and drop off or donate books. The Coin Laundry Association’s foundation is backing a new alliance devoted to increasing early childhood literacy through Laundromat libraries.

Again, that’s just a glimpse into community involvement. Identify something that speaks to you and your staff and further immerse your laundry in—pardon the pun—the fabric of your community.