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Staying Ahead of the Competition

Robert J. Renteria |

CHICAGO — Coin laundry owners, like other business owners, have a lot on their mind. It’s not uncommon to be worried about the new laundry opening in the neighborhood, or to be concerned about another laundry’s new equipmentBeating the competition is something we think about, and it may cause us to lose some sleep now and then. Fortunately, beating the competition is a lot easier than you might think.I estimate that at least 80% of existing coin laundries are treating their businesses like a retail business waiting around for customers to come to them. This is the wrong approach. This business has become a come-and-get-you business.Have you ever heard of a business that needs no marketing? Some people in our industry don’t market. If you don’t believe in marketing, you are committing financial suicide. Every day needs to be a marketing day.If you embrace this basic and fundamental principle, your bottom line will be impacted.Think about the math. If the average family spends $700 per year doing laundry at your store, why wouldn’t you go out and do everything possible to bring in additional families in order to not only meet your financial goals and objectives, but to blow the roof off of your numbers?GIVE IT A TRYIt’s easy to get caught up in a variety of projects. In the end, it’s all about service and being the best you can be. Here are just a few ways to enhance your income potential while better servicing your customers:    * Create a theme for your store. Something like “Rock and Fold” just might work.    * Pictures never hurt. You can even coordinate your pictures with a theme. For example, pictures of Elvis, Buddy Holly, etc. go well with a retro rock theme.    * Install wall-mounted TVs and play popular DVDs. If you have a store theme, such as music, play movies like “Grease” and “Saturday Night Fever.”    * Replace all of the plastic light covers with new, clear face covers for brighter lighting. Adding new, exposed lighting is even better.    * Install signage in your coin laundry (for example: “Thank You” and “Please Come Again.”) Neon signage can give you nighttime exposure, and highly visible exterior signage will lure traffic.    * Keep your storefront windows spotless all the time.    * Replace your ceiling tiles as needed, specifically around air coolers.    * Keep your washers and dryers clean and polished.    * Paint the fronts of your steel bases below the front loaders to maintain a clean look.    * If space permits, arrange the shelves for your drop-off area. Stay organized.    * Provide uniforms for your attendants.    * Maintain all machines at all times. You cannot make money with broken machines.    * Maintain key control. If in doubt, replace all money boxes to avoid “silent partners.”    * Regularly clean your vents to save energy, provide more efficient dryers and help avoid fires.    * Forbid smoking in your laundry. Local governments are already doing this in some cities.These are just a handful of ideas to think about. None of them are really difficult to implement. Don’t get obsessed with competition. Competition will always exist in every market. Instead, think about what an average family will spend at your laundry in a year, and then think about how many families you might be able to attract. The world is an oyster and it’s yours for the taking. 

About the author

Robert J. Renteria

Consultant

Robert J. Renteria is a national consultant based in Chicago. He has more than 23 years of industry experience, having helped develop more than 750 coin laundries nationally and abroad. The author of three books, he was named the 2010 Chicago Latino Professional of the Year and is the sole recipient of the 2011 International Outstanding Humanitarian Award. In 2013, he received two Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards for his work in civil rights advocacy and educational reform. He can be reached at 312-933-5619 or robert@fromthebarrio.com.

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