OSHKOSH, Wis. — The vended laundry industry is quickly evolving from simple, coin-operated and unattended stores to complex, multi-service laundry hubs that cater to people from all walks of life. Here are my thoughts on the laundry hub concept and its potential impact on the community.

THE LAUNDRY HUB – A POSITIVE INDUSTRY TREND

Serving its demographic to the fullest, the hub offers multiple services, including wash/dry/fold, residential and commercial laundry services, pickup and delivery, and drop-off dry cleaning. Every demographic group, income level and family unit is a target of the laundry hub and its diverse service offering.

Fully attended, it not only operates extremely efficiently in terms of water, energy and natural gas usage, it features large-capacity washers and dryers to better serve families and commercial accounts. The hub provides time-saving conveniences that attract customers and distinctive offerings to make it stand apart from “Laundromats” of the past.

Advanced technologies and machine controls enhance management, marketing and customer convenience. Finally, learning areas and community outreach programs create a better world and a grateful customer base, while strengthening community partnerships.

MULTIPLE SERVICES

The laundry hub provides services that appeal to more than self-service customers. It draws business from homeowners, professionals, singles and nearby businesses. By offering solutions that appeal to its entire demographic, it better penetrates its market; creates multiple, diverse revenue streams; and grows store revenue and profits — all while better utilizing equipment and labor all week long.

Types of services include drop-off wash/dry/fold, pickup and delivery of both residential and commercial laundry, drop-off dry cleaning, and, in some cases, textile care processing.

COMMUNITY SUPPORT AND OUTREACH

Laundry hubs give back to the community. Millions of people across the country — many in underserved communities — visit Laundromats each week to clean clothes. The Coin Laundry Association (CLA) and its members established the LaundryCares Foundation in 2006 as a means of focusing the industry’s support to these communities through its network of laundry owners and their facilities. In the last few years, it has greatly matured.

In addition to the organization’s flagship events, free laundry days that have helped thousands across the nation with complimentary laundry services, the LaundryCares Foundation also teams with other organizations, including Too Small to Fail, Libraries Without Borders and Current Initiatives, to deliver educational programs promoting children’s literacy and family interactions at the Laundromat.

I see the laundry hub as a place with in-store literacy centers (literacy center modules for your Laundromat are available from LaundryCares.org) as well as a place that provides a helping hand via events that might include free laundry days, organized story times, holding blood drives, supporting Coats for Kids, etc.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion!