GLENDALE, Ariz. — A better title may have been, Why Does a Customer Choose One Laundromat Over Another?
Since different people are attracted to different things, there are quite a few factors. Some reasons are obvious, others much more subtle. For instance, a clean, well-run Laundromat in a great location should appeal to most people. However, no store captures everyone.
Exactly what drives customer choices is something that has been studied by nearly all retail industries for many years. It is usually related to how much value, or perceived value, a customer can get for his/her money.
Again, not always. Sometimes a customer will choose a store simply because it is the closest, or most convenient for them, despite their experience being less than stellar.
In today’s conclusion, let’s take a look at the remaining factors that may attract a customer to your Laundromat—or drive them away.
SENSE OF SAFETY
Customers, and especially families, need to feel safe while they are in your store. A Laundromat that is brightly lit both inside and out helps. Windows should be relatively clear of obstructions, and a good surveillance camera system with at least one monitor helps ease people’s fears. If your competitor does not have these things, you have a nice edge.
FRIENDLY EMPLOYEES WHO LIKE TO SMILE
They are literally the “face” of your business. Just a few nasty employee remarks can bring you a couple of 1-star reviews. Online reviews can make or break your business and, by default, so can your employees. A well-loved employee can keep customers coming back.
I always liked hiring friendly people who are genuinely happy with their lives and who they are.
It also helps to employ people from demographics similar to those who live in the store’s neighborhood. They say birds of a feather flock together.
OPPORTUNITY FOR CUSTOMERS TO MULTI-TASK
This can be a biggie. People are so busy nowadays that most will plan their chores so they can save time. The very nature of Laundromats is to allow people to choose as many washers as necessary so they can “get it all done at once,” and save time by minimizing the number of days per month needed to do laundry.
However, another really important way that customers want to multi-task is by putting their laundry in the machines and then shopping at neighboring “chore stores” such as supermarkets, dry cleaners, food establishments, etc.
Obviously, you are better off being located near these types of stores than, say, a furniture store.
This is another no-brainer. If customers can’t get to your store, your business will suffer.
You should always have empty parking spots available as close as possible to your store, even when you are busy.
The only exception I can think of is if your store is located in such a densely populated area that most of your customers are within walking distance (no more than three or four city blocks away).
Your store must not get too hot or too cold, otherwise, people will seek a Laundromat that is more temperature-friendly. So, use supplemental heat in cold climates and air conditioning or open-format buildings in hot climates. A nice store that is air-conditioned in the summertime is a big draw. In addition, since the customers have been coming to your store all summer long, they are likely to keep coming after the seasons change.
Eliminate any loud, annoying noises by fixing faulty bearings on equipment right away.
Bad smells, either coming from rotting lint and sewer gas in your own store or from unknown sources in neighboring stores, will make a customer choose another Laundromat, even if everything else is OK.
Having plenty of seating, TVs, Wi-Fi, and a “kids korner” all attract customers. Use your imagination—I once saw a Laundromat that had a putting green in the store!
RUN A SALE
You shoot yourself in the foot when you simply lower all your prices, because you encourage price wars. Be like the big retailers and run sales to attract customers. You are better off by keeping prices that are healthy for your store, then running sales during your slow days and/or slow hours. A senior citizen discount can boost a slow day.
OWNERSHIP INTERACTION WITH CUSTOMERS
Most customers enjoy meeting and knowing the owner. If they see you fixing the equipment, so much the better because you are reassuring them that you are keeping “their” Laundromat in great shape. If you take a minute or two to be friendly, they will tend to come back. If you snub them, they may very well choose your competitor.
OFFERING EXTRA SERVICES
Some people will choose your store simply because you have an ATM, vending, lottery counter, drycleaning services, etc.
Before building or rehabbing your store, think about what colors attract the most people in your marketplace. What designs (open ceilings or acoustic drop ceilings) capture the most people? What materials (epoxy, concrete, carpet/tile floors, porcelain tiles, FRP, formica, or painted walls) attract the most people? And what about the type of folding tables (composite, stainless steel, fiberglass, granite or quartz)?
Colors can vary in attraction according to the mix of people in your marketplace. Some ethnic groups like bold colors, others prefer earth tones.
Get décor ideas from the big retail chain stores, such as McDonald’s. They employ the best designers.
I’m listing price last because studies have shown that price is one of the last considerations in whether a customer chooses a Laundromat.
When talking about price, what’s more important is the relationship between price and customer benefits. In other words, what do they get for their money?
People will usually be willing to pay more to do their laundry in a nice, clean and attractive store with friendly attendants and properly functioning machines. That’s value as opposed to just low price. You can lower your prices to get them in the door, but if your store does not offer enough value to them, it will be only one visit.
When you see a lower-priced Laundromat, it’s almost always because the owner is left with no choice but to use price to attract customers. At some point, the price is low enough to convince people to put up with all the negatives that a bad store has, but it comes to the owner at tremendous sacrifice in income.
A basic premise I’ve always had is that since it only costs a customer a few bucks to do laundry, you have an opportunity to raise their standard of living while they are in your store. This is a huge attraction, in my opinion.
Make your store gorgeous! If it has things that customers normally can’t afford such as great, new-looking machines; ceramic tile floors; Corian® or granite folding tables, etc., you allow them to live as the rich do for just a little while.
Yes, choosing these things costs more, but they are amortized over many years, thereby costing you little each year.
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.