Reaching the Do-It-at-Home Crowd (Conclusion)

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(Photo: ©iStockphoto/TommL)

Bruce Beggs |

Consistently delivering WDF service on time is key to success

CHICAGO — Choosing a store location often means paying attention to demographics like the nearby rental population, household size and income level, mindful that lower-income households are less likely to have in-unit washers and dryers and thus have greater need of a Laundromat.

But what about the higher-income demographic in your area? Is there a way to entice the folks who have washers and dryers at home and perhaps some disposable income to try out your store?

You can demonstrate how using a vended laundry makes processing hard-to-clean items like comforters a snap while turning “laundry day” into “laundry hour.”

One way is to offer larger-capacity washers and dryers to your walk-in customers (as documented in Go Big and Go Home). Another is to promote using your wash-dry-fold (WDF) service to process big, bulky items like comforters or sleeping bags or seasonal items like blankets.

Many vended laundries have lots of verbiage in their windows explaining services like these.

“On ours, we have one simple phrase. It just says, ‘Home of the 4-Minute Wash,’” explains Ed Ellis, co-owner of 1 Clean Laundry in St. Cloud, Fla. “The whole idea is to get someone to come in the door and ask, ‘What is this 4-minute wash and how do I get that?’ It works great, because the whole idea is to get a conversation going between the potential customer and the attendant.

“Customer says, ‘What’s this 4-minute wash about? Do you actually have a machine that can do a load of laundry in 4 minutes?’ No, the wash actually takes about 20 minutes, but, if you drop it off with me, you get it done in 4 minutes: 2 minutes to drop it off, we do all the work, then 2 minutes to pick it up. All they have to do is put it away.”

If you really want to sell the benefits of WDF, get involved in your local Chamber of Commerce, Ellis says.

“If you want to build a WDF business, that’s really where you want to be. Because those are your businesspeople who have extra money. They’re busy people, and they’re the ones who will utilize the drop-off service,” says Ellis, adding that he offers discounted comforter washing to chamber members “just to get them in the door.”

At his Splash Laundry in the high-income Buckhead district of Atlanta, owner Miguel Beckles says offering the latest laundry equipment, keeping the premises immaculate and building long-term customer relationships through WDF service has helped him draw high-income clientele who wouldn’t ordinarily use a Laundromat.

“They discovered a way to get more of their non-traditional laundry done in a nice environment. And it keeps on growing,” he says.

Splash’s WDF service averages 1,200 to 1,400 pounds a week. Some of his customers request their laundry be done by specific attendants. He likens it to getting a haircut or massage, where it’s customary to request the services of a certain person.

“Our WDF has grown a lot predominantly through word of mouth,” Beckles says. “People come in and look behind the counter and see a ton of WDF bags and see someone folding, and it grows through word of mouth. But the WDF business has always been pretty big in that area.”

Comforters are also a popular WDF item at Splash, which cleans several a week.

“The whole key (to successful WDF) is the consistency in how it’s folded, how it’s packaged, and that you never miss deadlines. If it’s not done when you say it’s going to be done and they prefer it the same day, you’re going to lose out. The quality has got to be there, and it’s got to be timely.”

And when you’re offering WDF service, you’re sure to be surprised by some of the things people bring in, according to Beckles.

“We have a client who works at a massage parlor. And she always drops off towels, and my attendants have noticed that there are G-strings or thongs mixed in with the towels. That’s kind of interesting. But the funny thing is she only has about 8 pounds of clothes and she wanted to argue about the price.”

Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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