OSHKOSH, Wis. — Don’t wait to elevate your laundry until it’s time for a complete retool. Think about how you can make little upgrades along the way. Why? Because small improvements in technology and offerings can make a big difference in how well you attract and retain customers.
Always be on the lookout for ways to differentiate your laundry, improve processes and boost revenue. I’ll detail some smaller laundry upgrades that can have a big impact:
FAMILY READ, PLAY & LEARN SPACE
Consider adding a Family Read, Play & Learn Space (RPL) in your laundry to help improve childhood literacy. While you might not get immediate rewards, your customers will thank you and, hopefully, choose your store over others because of it. RPLs available from the LaundryCares Foundation are designed to create safe, fun and engaging places for children and families in laundromats. They come in a variety of sizes and can be ordered as kits to fit your needs and budget. They feature literacy-rich materials to support children’s early brain and language development.
Russ Arbuckle added an RPL to one of his two Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Express Laundry Centers: “It’s a huge hit with the kids and allows parents to get laundry done while their children enjoy a place of their own,” he says. “We encourage them to take a book home, and for some, it’s the only book they own. The impact on community is huge. I think it’s positively impacted business, but the purpose was to create space for kids and get them interested in reading and improving their academic skills.”
If you don’t have a 90- or 130-pound-capacity washer in your laundry, get one! No floor space? Consider removing two smaller machines to make room. It’s worth it.
An extra-large washer helps your store stand apart from competitors. Plus, large-capacity washers are otherwise not accessible to homeowners and renters. Additionally, if you offer drop-off laundry or process any volume of commercial laundry, consider large-capacity washers that have the programmability to switch from a vended control to an on-premise laundry (OPL) control that offers hotter water temperatures, multiple bath exchanges and automatic chemical injection. If you pick the right washer, it can transition quickly from vended to OPL and back again.
In my experience, the 90s and 130s bring big revenue to vended laundries and are often used by customers more than any other machine on the floor.
“Customer demand is the ultimate reason for the big machines,” says multi-store owner Nick DiLibero, of Neptune Laundromat, in Revere, Massachusetts. “My first store had 75s and people fought over who was next in line to use them. Within two months, I ordered a third one.”
Over time, DiLibero has gone even larger, replacing most of his 75s with 90s. The newest Neptune Laundromat features six 90s and two 130s.
AUTOMATIC CHEMICAL INJECTION
While not all vended washers have the capability to automatically inject detergents, softeners and disinfectants, some do. If your washers have this capability, then consider activating this feature, especially on your larger machines.
There are new chemical injection products on the market designed specifically for vended laundries that automatically dispense specially formulated detergents, brighteners, softeners and disinfectants into compatible washers.
“Express Clean eliminates the hassles of lugging and loading your own detergents and prevents spills and messy machines,” says DiLibero of the system his laundromats use. “People come from miles away to use the big machines with automatic detergent injection. That’s why we get eight turns a day from them.”
Some equipment manufacturers offer control upgrades on their washers. The upgrade kits are inexpensive, easy to install, and allow store owners to offer “extra” cycles that add to overall vend price.
For example, Continental’s advanced control is standard on its new vended washers and available as a retrofit kit for most older-model Continental washers. It offers four primary cycle options, plus allows the customer to add an extra wash, rinse/sanitize or spin. Each time a customer chooses an extra, the vend price goes up—contributing to increased revenue. It’s a win-win. Customers enjoy having more control over how their laundry is washed, while owners enjoy the added revenue that comes with every extra a customer chooses.
Store owners have seen a dramatic increase in business from adding ozone sanitization, I’ve learned. It works with a washer’s automatic chemical-injection capability to introduce ozone gas into the wash cycle and is designed to naturally eliminate nearly all viruses, molds and bacterias from laundry. Sanitization is something customers can’t get at home (without bleach), their apartment’s central laundry and many laundromats. It’s also a differentiator if you offer drop-off wash/dry/fold (WDF) service and add it to an entire laundry or just to a couple machines.
“The sanitization makes the store smell fresh and clean,” says Jeb Belise, of Love Your Laundry, in Hyannis, Massachusetts. “Customers get educated in our store, and it’s a happy surprise and value point of sale that locks them in. Retention is really strong.”
If you haven’t invested in a quality POS system for managing your WDF business, you might seriously consider it. It will likely allow you to significantly grow your business, while ensuring accuracy and streamlining management hours. A good POS manages WDF from beginning to end; it allows customers to schedule, track and monitor orders online; allows owners to view and print revenue reports; and sometimes includes a website or marketing assistance.
Some are available to owners for a monthly fee, which makes it easier to budget. When searching for a POS, make sure you get references and that services include initial staff training, as well as ongoing training and updates.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].