The ‘Unlimited’ Potential of Wash/Dry/Fold (Part 1)

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(Photo: © iStockphoto/viant)

Howard Scott |

Selling convenience, luxury, even freedom

PEMBROKE, Mass. — Every person could be a wash/dry/fold customer. Not just apartment dwellers without washers and dryers. Not just seasonal folks who don’t have a full complement of appliances. Not just families in transition. Not just those with a broken machine.

Everyone. That’s 320 million people, or 115 million family units.

Let me explain. You’re not selling machine time. You’re not selling a place to process your clothes. You’re selling convenience with a capital C. You’re selling the luxury of having clothes delivered clean and neatly folded. You’re selling the release from doing the boring, repetitive household chore. You’re selling freedom from drudgery.

So, who are your customers?

IDENTIFYING PROSPECTS

The people who might use your service are two-worker families. They come home from a hard day, see that the kids are fussy, and utter, “Let’s order Chinese food.” The family is willing to fork over $35 to have a fast, store-bought supper just to save time and the trouble of making their own meal. They’re busy. They’re tired. They are willing to pay for a break from family routine. Yet, they are not so rich that they can afford a maid, a cleaning woman or a live-in au pair.

Consider that many of those families in today’s middle to upper-middle class hire a cleaning person to come in once a week to clean their house. They might spend $50 to $75 each cleaning. These are the type of people who might opt for convenient wash/dry/fold service. Compared to home cleaning, your service is a bargain at $15 to $20 a week.

The service could have the customer drop off and pick up, just drop off, or do nothing. The Laundromat picks up and drops off the completed job.

Probably the most popular option is drop-off service, and you deliver the finished product. It probably makes economic sense this way, too. Dropping the clothes off could be easy if your store has good front visibility. The staffer sees the customer pulling up in front of the store, walks out, goes to the passenger side and accepts the sack of clothes. He says, “We’ll deliver these clothes tonight, Mr. Crosby, probably before you get home from work.”

But you could also offer pickup and delivery for an additional fee. This offering would make the task super easy. All the customer would have to do is put out the laundry on the appropriate days, retrieve the bag of processed clothing and puts the garments away in drawers. What might take four hours can be reduced to 10 minutes of work.

No separating clothes into delicates, colors and whites. No cleaning out lint traps. No matching of socks or folding of outfits.

Who exactly might be your customer? First, your prospect has to live within a few miles of your laundry, perhaps no more than a mile if in an urban setting. Any farther out and your delivery costs will be excessive. I have seen drycleaning pickup and delivery services that spread over several towns at a radius of 10 or 12 miles, and the cost of traveling gets out of hand. So, focus on that circle around your store, and don’t go beyond the perimeter. Additionally, those families within your “circle” would be good drop-off candidates.

Several types of people are potential candidates:

  • Single individuals too busy to do their laundry would welcome the service.
  • Senior citizens who have difficulty with the simplest tasks need the relief.
  • Overscheduled families in which both parents work and the kids have busy, active lives that necessitate family involvement require the simplification.
  • Families who live in cramped quarters and do not have enough room to do the laundry would prefer a convenient alternative.
  • Condo residents who dislike washing clothes in a common room would welcome the opportunity.
  • Individuals in transition (divorce, separation, widowed, etc.) don’t want to be bothered doing mundane tasks.
  • Anyone with a bad back who has trouble bending down (to fold garments) would enjoy your service.

The list comprises about a third of many populations.

Check back tomorrow for the conclusion: Making the pitch

About the author

Howard Scott

Industry Writer and Drycleaning Consultant

Howard Scott is a former business owner, longtime industry writer and drycleaning consultant. He welcomes questions and comments and can be reached by writing Howard Scott, Dancing Hill, Pembroke, MA 02359; by calling 781-293-9027; or via e-mail at [email protected].

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