RIPON, Wis. — As the final leaves drop from the trees and the first frost appears, how should Laundromat owners adapt operations for the upcoming season? Each different time of year brings new opportunities for a Laundromat’s success, but the trick to maintaining a constant flow of customers is to change with the seasons.
ADAPT TO LOCAL INDUSTRIES
In addition to adapting to the ebb and flow of tourism seasons, store owners can look to local industries to increase off-season customer traffic.
“In our region, there are elements of our business that remain constant, one of which is the local coal miners in Wyoming and now the oil field workers in North Dakota,” says Clark Sowers, owner of three Laundromats in South Dakota, including Belle Laundromat in Belle Fourche, S.D. “We provide year-round drop-off service for each of these entities and have even contracted with a few coal mines.”
Sowers understands that in order to keep these customers coming back year-round, high operational standards must be maintained throughout both the busy tourist season and the off-season.
Maintaining a clean store, with efficient, commercial-quality equipment and with employees who care about the services they are providing is essential. Staff experience, parking availability and quality equipment all help satisfy customer needs.
“The marketing I do among regulars is very simple,” Sowers notes. “I will occasionally buy a customer a wash or two or a bottle of soda or water to let them know we appreciate their business. It’s amazing what a small act of kindness can do to keep customers happy and coming back.”
Aside from offering the occasional free cycle or beverage, store owners should recognize that some equipment control systems allow additional incentives for bringing in customers.
For example, Laundromats located near college campuses should provide students with budget-friendly options to drive traffic. Time-of-day pricing enables price variations throughout the day, which helps to incentivize customers to patronize the Laundromat during slower traffic time slots, and helps a store compete for new customers. These pricing incentives are especially useful for college students, who have pockets of free time during weekdays.
Store owners can also change prices based on water temperature and cycle selections. One control system offers 24 customizable cycle selections, which gives customers the ability to optimize wash results for various loads.
These new options provide both money-saving incentives and flexible cycles for consumers, while still offering owners increased revenue. Additionally, some control systems let owners monitor their machines off-site using a computer, and provide reports that analyze equipment performance data and maintenance alerts for ultimate control and convenience.
“Knowledge is power, and being able to see when and how often the equipment is running allows me to monitor when our downtimes are,” says Sowers. “This lets me offer discounted prices at certain times of the week or year.”
By recognizing peak seasons and targeting operations and marketing to different year-round customer segments, Laundromat owners can significantly increase their traffic.
Furthermore, by using an intuitive control system, owners can optimize operations and turn off-seasons into new opportunities.