CHICAGO — Every vended laundry has those “slow” days or times when few people are in the store and most or all of the equipment is sitting idle. But is a slow day something a store owner like you just has to learn to accept and live with, or is there something you can do about it?
American Coin-Op polled some store owners as well as a few manufacturer/distributor reps to get some tips on how you can go about creating a “slow-day turnaround.”
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Beyond the promotional tactics described in Part 1, Laundromat owners can consider adding extra services themselves or agreeing to house those of others.
“Store owners can add a variety of sales and services to their store to help boost business, such as purified water machines, check cashing services and hair salons,” says Taylor Smith, president of Commercial Equipment Co., a Speed Queen distributor based in Texas. “Another opportunity that can be very profitable is adding commercial laundry accounts for local businesses. The laundry for the commercial accounts can be completed after the Laundromat closes so that it does not take away from any of the self-service laundry customer revenue.”
“Beyond offering (wash/dry/fold) and dry cleaning, one underutilized service is alterations/tailoring,” says King Lee, Northeast regional sales manager for manufacturer Dexter Laundry; he previously owned three drycleaning businesses in Connecticut for 20 years. “Many full-service dry cleaners offer this service at a substantial profit margin. Of course, finding the right employee can be a challenge, but many operators never even consider it.”
Housing pre-paid cell phone kiosks or lottery machines in your laundry are other revenue-generating possibilities, he says.
“Stucky” Szczotka, a 43-year laundry and drycleaning veteran who co-owns card store New Wave Laundromat, Sterling Heights, Mich., with son Darin, says it’s not unusual for there to be three or four employees working in his store during times when walk-in business is sparse.
“Primarily what we’ve done is created commercial routes,” he explains. “I do a few thousand pounds a week of commercial work. … My commercial work and my counter (wash/dry/fold) combined is basically 50% of what I do in my vended business. It basically doubles my business. …
“With my customers or clients, I refer to it as cashing in on my capital investment. Rather than having (the equipment) sit there idle, I’m turning those drums or wheels.”
Lee says there may be opportunities for 24-hour stores to make equipment available to third-party commercial laundries that do the work themselves.
“There are companies out there who focus on getting commercial accounts and then going to a Laundromat, doing it and delivering it,” he says. “They’re kind of like the middle man. If you’re a 24/7 store, why not offer, ‘Hey, you can use my equipment after midnight and it’ll be half price for you.’ You don’t have to do any of the work. They just come and use your equipment.”
Cathy Neilley, who owns Spin Doctor Laundromat in Hamilton, N.J., gets her attendants involved as “ambassadors” of her business.
“In terms of attendants, I give them a two-hour bonus or a percentage of business from any accounts that I may get, from a restaurant or some other type of commercial business,” she says.
They can hand out business cards they have signed to friends. If a customer brings in a signed card with wash/dry/fold business, the attendant benefits from that, she says.
Check back Tuesday for our conclusion.
If you missed Part 1, you can read it HERE.