CHICAGO — When was the last time you walked through your store as if you were seeing it for the first time? If you’re in and out of your store all the time, you might take its appearance for granted.
But your customers—and prospective customers—sure don’t. They’re drawn to a particular store by its convenience, yes, but also by appearance.
Laundries that are clean, comfortable and brightly lit have a leg up on those that aren’t. Where does your store fit?
Once you’ve toured your store with your “first time” glasses on, you’ll no doubt have seen at least one or two areas that could use sprucing up that goes beyond the normal maintenance and cleaning routine.
Here are some key areas to examine with a critical eye:
To start, you need to be concerned with your visibility from the street. Is your signage large enough and easy to read? Does it stand out from other nearby signs? Is it vibrantly colored and well lit?
Having signage that is unique is important when your store is located in a strip center, especially if any of the surrounding businesses are vacant.
And it’s vital that the public can see that you run a “Coin Laundry” or a “Laundromat,” so make certain those terms stand out.
If you have a freestanding store, maximize the use of signage in your windows. You might be tempted to take a do-it-yourself approach and use tempera paint, but invest in having the signage done professionally.
Is the area around your store landscaped or at least well maintained? Just about any exterior can benefit from a fresh coat of paint on occasion.
Do you have ample parking available? Is the lot lit well? Does it have cracks or potholes? How accessible is your store to the average person and to the handicapped?
Are your windows clean and free of chips or cracks?
If your store doesn’t look so great from the outside, why would someone want to venture inside? They might equate a partially lit sign or some chipping paint outside with the quality of the service they can receive inside.
Give your store a good cleaning. Often, an owner can improve their store’s image simply by wiping down their machines and keeping the floor clean.
When was the last time that you painted inside? Painting is one of the easiest and least expensive ways for a business to update its décor.
Neutral colors will broaden your decorating choices over time, but taking the plunge and painting in fire engine red or kelly green will bring excitement to the space.
Whatever color you decide upon, make sure the kind of paint you choose will be easy to clean. Select a paint that’s washable and doesn’t show dirt easily. White is symbolic of cleanliness, yes, but it may not be the best color choice for such an active environment.
A well-lit store showcases your equipment and creates a more secure setting. If your store is dim, it might be time to invest in new lighting. Good lighting with new ceiling tile can make a huge difference.
If your store happens to use T12 fluorescent lamps, now is the time to replace them: they will no longer meet efficiency standards that go into effect in July, says the National Lighting Bureau. The most commonly used 4-foot, 8-foot and 2-foot, U-shaped T12 fluorescent lamps will be disappearing from distributors’ and retailers’ shelves soon.
People don’t want to drop their clothes on a dirty floor, so keep it clean. Virtually any type of flooring can work in a laundry setting, as long as it’s maintained. Cement floors are easy to put in, and sealing the floor will make it easier to clean.
Vinyl tile is a bit more expensive but can last for years if properly maintained. Ceramic tile wears well and doesn’t require quite the level of upkeep, but you’ll pay more for it upfront.
From floor to ceiling, you have an opportunity to create a space that’s functional but comfortable. Your customers—and your bottom line—will thank you for it.