Take Control of Your Laundry with Advanced Controls

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(Image licensed by Ingram Publishing)

Dan Bowe |

Store owners share firsthand tech experiences

RIPON, Wis. — Your Laundromat is your business, and you should be able to operate and manage it on your terms—anywhere, anytime.

Industry-leading controls give you the ability to program, monitor and audit your business, so you have the freedom to manage it your way.

This technology offers customized wash settings and pricing, as well as wireless networking capabilities, and provides you with performance data that can help you make decisions that will ultimately boost the bottom line.

But don’t take my word for it. Here are firsthand accounts of two Laundromat owners, in which they describe how advanced controls have allowed them to increase profitability and improve customer satisfaction in their stores.

Q: Describe your background and why you wanted to open a Laundromat.

Paul Erb, The Laundry Spot, Texas: I learned about the laundry industry from an acquaintance who owned a Laundromat.

I was a software engineer at the time, but was looking for a career change and profitable investment. With great interest but little research, I signed a lease on an old Laundromat in Austin just two weeks later in November 2012. I believe I gave the store a new beginning.

Brad Harris, The Wash House, Missouri: My career started in the laundry business as a salesman with KeeWes Equipment Co. Inc., after my corporate job was downsized.

I was intrigued by the coin laundry business, and witnessed the many benefits of opening a vended Laundromat.

When a store in Republic, Mo., came up for sale in 2012, my wife and I decided we should try and ‘clean up’ in this business. After retooling the store and experiencing success, we built a second location—in partnership with my brother and sister-in-law—from the ground up in Springfield. It opened in January 2015.

Both stores are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment featuring advanced controls.

Q: Why did you choose to implement advanced controls into your Laundromat?

Erb: I implemented advanced controls because I was specifically looking for a way to network my entire store.

The equipment manufacturer I chose provided this capability on its machines, as well as the software support to make it possible.

By utilizing industry-leading controls, I’m able to change all the settings of my equipment with a click of the mouse on my computer, or remotely using a desktop connection to control and/or troubleshoot the store from anywhere in the world.

Our attendants also use a personal digital assistant (PDA) to control individual machines and handle any customer issue, plus control the machines for our wash-dry-fold service.

Instead of having to inspect each machine to ensure everything is functioning properly, I get an e-mail notification should any issues arise.

There are a vast number of things I can do with the software, but most importantly I can make it as simple or as comprehensive as I want.

Harris: I have a busy day job that takes me all over the region, and advanced controls allow me to monitor my machines and quickly adjust vend prices, minimizing time spent managing my fully attended stores.

It also gives me an opportunity to show my customers (Laundromat owners) the many benefits of installing equipment that features advanced technologies.

Increased efficiency, profitability and unparalleled convenience are the key points that intrigue customers and make them want to learn more.

The “Lucky Cycle” feature is also a selling point.

Q: How has the use of an advanced control system impacted your store’s operation?

Harris: I love advanced controls because I can easily and conveniently pull reports on my entire operation while on the go.

They say “time is money,” and it’s true. Knowing that my stores are performing at maximum efficiency, and knowing how each machine is being used when I’m not physically present, is invaluable to me.

Erb: Advanced controls allow my store to run more smoothly because I not only have remote access to equipment, I can get statistics and easily adjust time-of-day pricing on my machines.

I can switch to different cycle programming to tailor my machines based on the type of linen being laundered and its soil level.

For example, we do commercial laundry and work with various clients, including restaurants and salons. Laundering those materials requires different chemical compositions, and because advanced controls allow for customized cycles, we’re able to take on more business.

With advanced controls, I’m able to change the length of the cycle and use programming to add chemicals from the dispenser at different times during the cycle. If I need a longer wash cycle or different agitation requirements, I can do it.

Q: What has the return on your investment been with advanced controls?

Erb: The main benefits advanced controls have afforded me are time savings, less money spent on repairs, and peace of mind.

Time is priceless, and I love the ability to receive automated notifications about my equipment that save time and money when diagnosing a problem.

These notifications and diagnostic reports allow me to make repairs myself because I have a better understanding of what’s going on. In a moment’s notice, I can go online, bring up my store’s information and quickly address any issues that come up. This is beneficial for me, our customers and attendants.

Harris: For me, the return on investment is time savings and the convenience of quickly making adjustments without having to be on-site.

With the latest technologies, I can automatically turn off my machines at closing, set soap dispensers to flush and change prices on the fly.

Q: Have you seen a savings in your utilities from using advanced controls?

Harris: Absolutely. Because I replaced older equipment with more energy-efficient equipment, it’s easy to compare old utility bills with my current ones to see the savings.

For example, I have split my water bill in half and reduced gas expenses by 20% in my first store.

State-of-the-art controls have also helped me customize cycles to deliver the best wash using minimal resources, which reduces water and gas usage.

And, because I can pull reports and statistics about machine usage, I can make further adjustments that improve efficiency.

Erb: Yes. In some Laundromats, attendants may have no control over utility function, but in mine they do.

With premier controls, you can set water levels, the length of the cycle and dryer times, including temperature.

We dry items on medium heat because it’s easier on the fabric and uses less energy.

With advanced controls, a store owner can fine-tune their store to optimize utility usage while delivering an optimal wash.

With this technology, we can program equipment much more easily, and we don’t have to restart a load if an issue arises.

Q: Has advanced control technology impacted customer satisfaction?

Erb: Yes, I’ve enhanced customer satisfaction in my store. For instance, if a customer starts the wrong dryer, I can zero it out and put minutes on another machine so they don’t need to manually move their clothes. This feature helps them get in and out of the store in a timely manner.

Additionally, the “Lucky Cycle” feature allows washers to provide a free wash at set intervals of my choice.

This promotion adds excitement and gives customers the feeling that they are playing the lottery every time they do their laundry.

Harris: Definitely. I provide a great service to the community by offering high-quality Laundromats with new equipment featuring the latest technologies, and I’ve received numerous compliments from customers.

At the end of the day, I have peace of mind that customers will continue to visit my stores and be pleased with their experience.

And, thanks to advanced controls, I am assured my stores are running efficiently and profitably, even from many miles away.

Overall, advanced controls and their many capabilities have exceeded my expectations.

About the author

Dan Bowe

Speed Queen

National Sales Manager

Dan Bowe is the national sales manager of Speed Queen’s commercial division. He oversees regional sales managers, develops policies and procedures, cultivates distributor partnerships and participates in the development of new products and services. To learn more, call 800-590-8872 or visit speedqueen.com.

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