Take a Free Ride on the Su Nueva Lavanderia Express (Part 1)

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Su Nueva Lavanderia driver Omar Solorzano assists Claudia Miranda with bundles after a free shuttle journey to Su Nueva’s flagship laundry on Chicago’s Southwest Side. (Photo: Lilinette Hong)

Laurance Cohen |

Chicago store owner offers shuttle service to get more customers in the door

CHICAGO — At Su Nueva Lavanderia, there are plenty of freebies: free dry, free Wi-Fi, free coffee and free hot dogs. But the one that’s literally getting customers in the door is the free ride.

Just one call from a customer and Omar Solorzano or Casey West will show up at their curb, load bundles, and whisk them off to one of the Chicago chain’s stores where they’ll help transfer laundry to a cart and bid the customer a pleasant wash day. Heading home after packing up is just as easy. And the cost for Su Nueva’s roundtrip Express Personal Pickup Service – zero, zilch, nada.

For customers like Daisy Martinez, the complimentary shuttle is a godsend. With no family car, she had to endure weekly half-mile journeys traversing broken sidewalks and slushy streets with piles of laundry in her pushcart.

“Every summer, I had to replace my cart because the wheels came off. Now it’s so convenient, and I can forget about buying a new cart,” the 20-year-old mother says as she gets a lift home after spending $23 to wash her loads.

Her comment brings a smile to second-generation operator Paul Hansen, who is going the extra mile by providing a unique customer service launched 12 years ago as the brainchild of his late father Charles “Chuck,” a well-known pioneer of the Windy City’s high-capacity, large-footprint store format.

“Laundry is such a homogeneous product that you have to differentiate yourself from the competition,” he says. “This was one more way to add value to the customer experience. It was a way to get customers in who didn’t have vehicles. At the time, nobody else was doing it.”

Hansen got behind the wheel and took me out for a spin in the latest addition to his fleet – a fully wrapped Ford Transit Connect – during a rare weekday lull to share how his door-to-door shuttle is driving sales.

What started with a single passenger van and handwritten pickup logs has evolved into two vehicles sporting prominent graphics fueled by a web-based system that streamlines the boutique transport service from start to finish.

And grow it has: Some days, up to 40 big-bundle patrons are ferried to Su Nueva’s five state-of-the-art facilities, each spending between $25 to $30, according to the store owner.

The newly inaugurated desktop program and mobile application seamlessly link a dedicated bilingual dispatcher with drivers and customers to enhance communications and minimize wait times. After a phone request for pickup or return journey is received, the dispatcher enters the data and assigns the task to one of the drivers, who receive all pertinent information on their smartphone.

As each leg of the journey is completed, the drivers access the user-friendly app to transmit progress back to the dispatcher. Patrons receive updates on their smartphones throughout the process and can be called by either driver or dispatcher should an issue arise. GPS tracking enhances mapping and monitoring capabilities.

When they arrive at their home, Su Nueva customers can provide real-time feedback, a feature that the business-savvy Hansen keeps his eye on.

“We get many thanks and comments of appreciation on our great service and receive four- to five-star ratings from 98% of respondents,” he reports.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion!

About the author

Laurance Cohen

Laundry Marketing Concepts

Freelance Writer

As a freelance writer, Laurance Cohen crisscrosses the country seeking out the most unique vended laundries. He served as American Coin-Op editor in the early 1990s and currently operates Laundry Marketing Concepts based in Hallandale Beach, Fla. Readers are welcome to contact him at [email protected].

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