CHICAGO — Laundromat customers often seek out convenience, affordable pricing and enhanced services, and the stores vying for their business have to adapt and differentiate themselves to thrive in the environment. They must engage in competition.
A new laundry is poised to open in your area. Are you anxious about the impact it may have, or do you stand resolute because of the confidence you have in your business?
This quarter’s American Coin-Op Your Views survey asked respondents how they feel about competition and what they do to set themselves apart from the rest. More than 46% of respondents to the unscientific poll say they don’t fear competition, while the remainder do in one respect or another.
For 17.9%, their chief worry is that their competitor “offers higher-quality equipment.” Another 14.3% are concerned a competing store is “more attractive than my store.” Vend prices that are cheaper than theirs concerns 7.1% of respondents the most. Just 3.6% fear a competing store is larger than theirs.
The remaining 10.7% selected the “other” option, citing sources of concern that include newer equipment or better parking.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents reported having between two and four competing laundries in their service area. It’s five or more for 19.2%, and just one for 11.5%.
Have you ever personally visited a competing laundry to get a sense of its operation? The likely answer is yes, based on our survey results. Among respondents, a whopping 92.9% admit to having scoped out the competition this way.
Visiting and walking through (85.7%), passing by in car or on foot (50%) and reviewing a competitor’s website or social media (39.3%) were their most common methods (respondents could choose any or all from several options). As for how often they visit their competition, quarterly or annually tops the frequency list, followed by monthly, then twice annually.
When going head-to-head with the competition, 32.1% believe the cleanliness of their store is their greatest strength. Roughly 29% say their “customer service is second to none,” and 10.7% count on the fact that “every machine is up and running.” Smaller shares of 7.1% point to having “the ideal machine mix” or “reasonable prices.”
The remaining 14.3% of respondents see something else as their greatest strength. In many cases, it’s either all or some of the choices they could select.
How do you differentiate yourself from your competition? Here are some responses from those who took the survey:
- “We are the only 24-hour, fully attended, open 365 days coin laundry in our service area.”
- “Service, fully staffed, (and) newer equipment with ozone and soft water.”
- “One competitor requires customers to sign up to get rewards. I’m able to reward without sign-ups.”
- “Super-high extractor washers at reasonable prices.”
- “We have a great reputation for customer service because we have longtime employees who have been trained to understand (that) service and being pleasant must be part of their daily work ethic.”
- “Relationships with community, outreach, experience, friendly staff.”
- “Location mainly. Convenience, parking. We’ve been here 60 years.”
While American Coin-Op’s Your Views survey presents a snapshot of store owners’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific. Subscribers to American Coin-Op e-mail blasts are invited to participate anonymously in the industry survey.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].