CHICAGO — Matt Andrade has a pretty busy schedule as owner and operator of three (soon to be four) locations of E-Z Clean Laundry Centers in Taunton, Mass.
“I work from 6 a.m. until 4 or 5 o’clock at night, basically, Monday through Friday,” says Andrade. “And then, [on] Saturdays and Sundays, I’ll make visits to the attended stores, maybe once a day, just to make sure that everything is going accordingly.”
Managing his businesses and team of 11 attendants takes a lot of commitment.
“This is my full-time job. I’m in and out of all of the stores, maybe two to three times per day,” says Andrade.
Constantly having your finger on the pulse of your laundry business can be a huge undertaking, with many responsibilities to attend to.
American Coin-Op reached out to a handful of store owner experts, like Andrade, to share their insight on systems they’ve established in running their operations, and how to ensure a coin laundry business is running smoothly and efficiently, regardless of the time or day.
THE EYES AND EARS
Managing the World’s Largest Laundromat in Berwyn, Ill., can seem like an intimidating task, considering that it operates on a 24/7 schedule, and features 159 washers and 136 dryers.
“My schedule calls for me to be here six days a week, with Sundays off, but I enjoy popping in on Sundays, as well,” says owner Tom Benson.
As responsibilities pile up at the average laundry, operators can turn to hiring attendants to be their eyes and ears while they’re away from their business.
Benson, who manages a staff of 21 full-time employees, looks for various characteristics when hiring a new team member.
“A solid work history is the best indication,” he says. “We want our people to be good people, so personality is a big factor. We are known for the friendly atmosphere here.”
Brian Henderson, operations manager at Liberty Laundry, Tulsa, Okla., looks for similar traits in prospective attendants. He manages a chain of three stores in the Tulsa metro area, and has a team of 25 employees.
“We place an extreme emphasis on excellent customer service when hiring and training new team members,” he says. “The ability to carry on a conversation and to have the self-esteem required to approach new customers in a confident and friendly manner are vital to our business model.”
Henderson stresses the importance of conducting more than one interview when vetting a prospective employee, and to also offer a competitive pay.
Andrade acknowledges the value that quality employees can bring to help manage a laundry business.
“I can’t be everywhere at once and I can’t make everyone happy, so I try and do my best to hire people that know what they’re doing, know exactly what we’re asking for [and] can get along with everyone,” says Andrade.
Managing a team of attendants, especially across multiple locations can be cumbersome, but being flexible and setting clear expectations for scheduling needs early on is key, according to the experts.
“I like to have [attendants] make their schedules. I don’t really like to tell them [when to work], because I only find that that’s going to be a problem down the road,” says Andrade.
“If you’re forcing people to do shifts that they don’t want to do, then most likely they’re not going to show up.”
“[We] ask all new team members to submit their work availability … using a custom-made Google form found on the password-protected back end of our website, which we call the ‘Attendant Portal,’” explains Henderson. This portal allows him and his managerial staff to streamline scheduling duties.
“This information—the work availability and time-off requests of our team members—is used by our three store managers each Monday to come up with the work schedule for all three stores for the following week,” he explains.
“It does require some creative scheduling at times and some follow-up phone calls to arrange coverage, but the system works very well.”
Check back Wednesday for Part 2!