GLENDALE, Ariz. — A great location; a large, clean laundromat with modern, high-functioning machines; convenient hours; and competitive prices can be the foundation of self-service laundry success. But what if your mat doesn’t check all those boxes? Well, you can compensate somewhat by appealing to your area’s differing demographics.
Since laundromats are open to the public, there are different “slices” of population that you can appeal to. Yes, the vast majority will respond favorably to the store I’ve described, but be aware that there is no “one size fits all.”
Certain customers respond differently than others because they may have different needs, and you could be missing out on attracting them. Here are some more population shares to be aware of:
High-Income Patrons — Normally, mats don’t do as well in high-income areas because most living there have washers and dryers in their homes. The most I saw coming from these customers were some king-sized comforters they brought in because their home machine was too small. Most of the time, they dropped them off. This is your opportunity to convert them to dropping off their entire laundry.
Hard-working career-minded people don’t have the time or patience to do their own laundry, but they do have the extra disposable income to pay for you to do it. Even though they own the equipment, they love the service convenience. Offering pickup and delivery expands this opportunity even more. But to make this work, you need a good app your customers can download on their phones, plus a delivery vehicle, driver, insurance, advertising, etc.
Less-Prosperous Areas — If your mat is located in one of these, make sure you have a larger store with great equipment. Big washers and dryers are a must nowadays. Lower-income areas sometimes have more crime, so make sure you have good lighting inside and out, and a good surveillance system to make customers feel safe.
Limited Parking — If your mat is in a dense neighborhood with limited parking and people are using shopping carts to lug their laundry a few blocks to your location, try screen-printing your store name and logo on laundry bags to sell. Why? I discovered that folks lined their shopping carts with the bags facing straight out. It was such a great sight to see people walking down a busy street pushing their cart with our store name. Not only was it great local advertising, it was a subliminal endorsement. I sold such bags at cost and even gave some away to reward good customers.
Speaking of logos, if multiple languages are spoken in your area, a logo that looks like a washing machine is universal and can be understood by just about anyone.
Keep your windows clear so people of all nationalities can see that your store is a laundromat; they may not be able to read your signs.
Commercial Work — There is all sorts of potential work available, depending on how you reach out. Hairstylists need their towels done. Restaurants need clean tablecloths. Fire restoration companies may want to partner with you.
You’ll need commercial washers in order to effectively clean stubborn stains from tablecloths, kitchen towels or salon towels. Ask your distributor.
No special washer needed for fire restoration. My stores did a lot of smoke-damaged laundry when I teamed up with a dry cleaner who reached out to local insurance companies. If an apartment building is partially damaged by a fire, there could be lots of smoke-damaged laundry in the apartments. Insurance companies would rather pay to clean and deodorize the laundry than to pay for an entire apartment’s worth of brand-new clothes, towels and more.
The key is to wash the laundry twice before drying. Add a stain fighter like Oxyclean or its equivalent (sodium percarbonate) to your detergent mix. You won’t need chlorine bleach, but wash with warm or hot water. Hydrogen peroxide works well, too, but it’s more expensive to use.
So, there are all sorts of ways you can reach out to smaller shares of your overall customer base. Just remember that not everyone has the same needs and they could be looking to you to fill theirs.
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].