Stay Connected: There’s Growth to Be Had in Reaching Millennials (Part 1)

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(Photo: © iStockphoto/CREATISTA)

Jim Rosenthal |

Think of offering a Starbucks-like atmosphere

RIPON, Wis. — Ahhh, the millennials. A favorite topic and target for anyone doing business in everything from smartphones to donut holes. What do they want? How do we reach them? How do we keep them loyal to our laundries?

Is there a magic bullet for these questions and converting this demographic into raving fans? Well, plugging “marketing to millennials” into a search engine and seeing the sheer volume of blog posts, articles, etc., there appears to be no panacea. While there are unique variables within any business, often the best we can do is look to those who are having success for advice.

On the topic of millennials, Doug Klingler, owner of Milwaukee’s Your Laundry, has had the right idea for his store since it opened in 2015. He also taps into his daughter’s expertise from time to time — she specializes in marketing geared toward millennials.

THE BASICS

Like most successful stores, Your Laundry is spotless. Then there’s the overall look and feel. The store is warm and inviting. Stainless steel equipment, modern folding tables, a mix of tiled and painted walls, raised-letter signage, and a unique metallic ceiling give the laundry a premium atmosphere. Klingler’s model is to give customers something different, something new, and fresh. Don’t expect to see tired, old light fixtures in Your Laundry. Even the lighting is a mix of modern-looking round fixtures, recessed and track lighting.

Safety is a major component as well. He’s had feedback that many of his customers pass up several laundries to come to Your Laundry because they feel safe. That’s reinforced by the widescreen TV at the front door showing customers they are on camera, and another monitor shows all the store’s camera feeds.

Millennials crave a different experience, something that takes the model up a notch. Klingler jokes that if you want to attract this demographic, your store better not look like something out of 1975; a simple coat of paint and regularly emptied trash cans isn’t enough. Think of the atmosphere you see and feel when you walk into a Starbucks. That should be the goal, and it is what Your Laundry offers.

GIVE THEM OPTIONS

From the start, Your Laundry was focused on offering a variety of payment options to give it broad appeal. Customers can choose coin, card and even a smartphone app. Klingler insists this flexibility, quite literally, has millennials’ faces lighting up when they come in, and has helped the store get a leg up on competitors in the area.

Obviously, multiple payment options open the door to the other millennial favorite: the loyalty program. That shows in that 20% of customers are paying through the phone app, and that’s growing each day. Millennials have always had technology be a part of their lives, and owners have to understand that fact and cater to it, Klingler says. Most of his customers who are under 35 use the payment app all the time.

LOYALTY PROGRAM IS KEY

Millennials want freedom, flexibility and convenience — they place a premium on their time. We hear that all the time. They want all those facets of a clean, modern store, and they want more. They want to be appreciated and rewarded for their loyalty. The loyalty program works to not only pull in millennials and keep them loyal, but true to their sharing reputation, they spread the word.

Frequent occurrences at Klingler’s store include customers suggesting to the coin-paying customer next to them, “You should really get the loyalty program,” and the person coming in for the first time, saying, “I need to get a loyalty card.” They are hearing about the card from others.

Klingler believes that word-of-mouth, social media sharing among millennials is key. If a store or business is offering them what they want, this group will talk about it; if it’s not, they won’t. His hope is that this level of sharing appeals to that great fear that millennials, and many others, have: the fear of missing out. If their friends are here and talking about it, the sharing creates the impression that those not at Your Laundry are missing out.

The loyalty program, he says, is “incredibly important.” Klingler uses it to better manage his business and offer customers more than his competition. That includes adding value to the card, based on the level customers load on it. He’s also started a free-dry program, in which clients earn points each time they use a dryer. Ultimately, they reach a total at which point they insert the card and receive the “free dry” message.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion!

About the author

Jim Rosenthal

Speed Queen, Commercial division

North American Sales Manager

Jim Rosenthal is the North American sales manager of Speed Queen’s Commercial division. For more information, visit www.speedqueencommercial.com/CoinOp101 or call 800-590-8872.

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