Do you run a laundry business and want to increase clients patronage and profit? If YES, here are 50 best laundry business tips & tricks for beginners.
The purpose of a laundry business is very simple—to provide people with a place or means to wash laundry. This has been the foundation of the laundry business for years, and it has been a pretty solid one. As we all know, people need to wash laundry on a weekly-or-so basis, so the laundry industry is relatively recession-resistant.
This business can be an easy and profitable business if done properly. Starting this business may or may not be capital intensive depending on the scale you are starting on. It is advisable that you take out time to conduct detailed feasibility research and cost analysis before investing your time and money into the business idea.
A lot of individuals think that starting and managing a laundry business is very simple: take in dirty laundry, turn out clean laundry. Indeed it’s a simple enough concept, but the reality is that commercial launderers have to do much more than just clean laundry to be really successful.
Businesses that understand the tips and tricks of achieving success in this industry have successfully communicated the benefits they provide. Below are 50 tips and tricks to help you achieve success in the laundry industry.
Best Laundry Business Tips and Tricks
Create Innovative Ways to Increase Service Offerings
Indeed growing your customer base can be very hard in a business that depends solely on location. Even if you can provide an efficient pick-up and delivery service, your customers are likely still within a certain geographic radius, leaving you with a pretty finite number of potential customers.
Most people would think that the solution to this problem is to open more locations, but that’s not always advisable or prudent.
Growing your service offerings without doubt can be a cost-effective way to both increase revenue and attract new business. Develop a different service that you can add without extending your staff or your budget too far and see how it works for you. If the service is high quality, you’ll impress your customer base and create opportunities for new acquisition.
Equipment and Efficiency
Agreeably, old equipment may be cheap but it will cost you in maintenance and efficiency. Your washers and dryers may break down frequently or may need excessive amount of water. So when considering your business’s expenses, put into consideration water usage and electricity. And when you buy new equipment, look for highly efficient washers and dryers to save money and reduce stress.
Keep the Kids Happy, Keep the Parents Happy
For instance, kids zeal to visit a fast food restaurant usually has little to do with the food. Happy Meal, McDonald’s and Co were clever enough to put in a subtle but effective tactic for preventing a store filled with kids from turning into chaos.
The toys from the Happy Meals keep the kids very busy while the parents and other guests enjoy their meals. Keeping kids busy with a simple and fun toy is indeed the cheapest way of keeping the peace. Instead of scolding children who are playing with the laundry carts or equipment, try offering them a selection from the chest.
These inexpensive prizes can be just enough distraction to keep them from potentially getting hurt or damaging something in the store. Then kids will start to lobby their parents to visit your store, which is some of the easiest and cheapest word of mouth advertising you can invest in.
Always be Over-Prepared
Nothing kills a solid revenue stream in the world of commercial laundry like an extended period of down-time because of equipment or supply issues.
In this lucrative industry, it’s always better to be over-prepared, which is why you have to make sure that your equipment is up-to-date on maintenance and your supply closet is never close to empty. Ensure that you keep track of when machine warranties run out and look for local repair resources that could help you out in a pinch.
Create a brand
What picture do you want people to imagine when they hear your company name or see your logo? The answer to this question is called your “brand,” and it should drive everything you do at your laundry. Right from your customer service to your online presence and storefront, your brand should be consistent and apparent across all channels.
Know the Competition
It’s very necessary that you know your business competition. How much do they charge? How well are they doing? How do they attract customers? Use a market analysis for help, and visit your competitors’ laundry (without mentioning your own business) for a first-hand experience with their facilities and service.
Don’t Let Utility Costs Get in the Way
Reports have it that water costs represent more than 50% of total operating costs in the typical commercial laundry. With energy costs on top of that, utilities can be a huge—even prohibitive—expense for launderers. This is why reducing water and energy usage even slightly can be a game-changer for commercial laundry businesses.
Limiting water usage by up to 80% and energy usage by up to 50% can save you thousands of dollars each year. Look for ways to save your funds and business expenses.
Have an Amazing Restroom
Research has shown that one thing that is indicative of a facility’s cleanliness is the restroom. If the restroom is unclean or not properly maintained, it puts the whole venture in an unfavourable light. Everything about your store should express cleanliness.
Considering that your average customer spends an hour or two at your facility, it’s reasonable to agree that they will need to visit the restroom in that time.
With the advent of technology, review apps like Yelp and others are as easy to check as your email. And if your prospective clients are searching out laundry facilities in these review sites, you can bet that they will prefer a facility that have reviews for the cleanest facilities and restrooms.
Create Customized Packages After Analyzing Your Customers’ Trend Thoroughly
Have it in mind that efficiency can easily be achieved in this business by offering tailored services to the customers according to their specific needs.
Start by studying your customers, follow their trend and analyse how many times they wash their clothes, what time do they prefer to drop the garments (or home picked), what time they prefer to pick up (or home dropped), what is their convenient mode of payment.
Find out if the customer is married or a bachelor; working professional or a student; lives in a joint family or a nuclear family?
Study the needs of your customers and launch specific offers or packages for them that suit their trend. With this you can gain complete customer satisfaction as you have given him a good discount, gained customer loyalty for the next 6 months, you get the money in advance and eliminate the case of an amount due from this customer.
Adjust Your Hours
A lot of laundry businesses are open from morning (7-9am) till night (10-11pm), but this may not be the most convenient schedule for your customers. If you live in an area with many third-shift workers, college students, or basic night owls, consider staying open 24 hours a day. Not only could this increase your revenue, but it might set you apart from competitors.
Grand Opening or Ribbon Cutting
You need to understand that there is no better way to draw attention to a new business than a Grand Opening. For so many years, businesses both large and small have held Grand Openings to draw in that precious initial customer base. Whether you do it on your own, or partner with a local civic or chamber organization, a Grand Opening can be a great way to tell the neighbourhood that you are “Open”.
Provide great customer experience
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how large or deep-pocketed your competition is. You can grow a successful business on great customer service. Note that people like services from businesses that treat them with respect. People love to be given attention and treated well and will always return to enjoy that beautiful experience again.
Never you forget, customers spend their hard-earned money on your services. They deserve a big “Thank you’ with a wide smile on your face. People hardly forget a great customer experience and will happily tell other people about it.
Give customers the preferred mode of communication as per their convenience
Note that clear communication and connectivity is very necessary to keep your customers coming back and satisfied in this industry. There are different channels through which different customers would like to connect with you. Walk down to your store, give you a call, send SMS, Email, WhatsApp, Facebook, Mobile Applications, Website etc.
It’s very important that you empower your customers to communicate with you or place orders as per their convenience. Apart from this, if ever you are launching a new service/offer, you should also send promotional SMS or In-app notifications to your customers. This will also help you immensely in creating your brand.
Make Marketing a Priority
When starting this business it is advisable that you make marketing a priority to get your name out there. Start with creating a visually striking sign to attract passers-by, and use flyers and promotions to engage and retain customers. Note that it’s easier to keep old customers than find new ones, consider using a loyalty program to ensure that your customers are happy.
Implement a Loyalty Program
Creating a loyalty card program could be just the catalyst you need to give your laundry business that extra boost. It can be a card-based program, integrating seamlessly with your digital card-op payment system, which drives convenience for your clients and marketability for your store, and in turn, overall profit.
A loyalty card program allows your customers to add funds from a credit/debit card or cash onto a loyalty card from an add value kiosk, which can only be used for vends in your specific store. Also note that the secure, automated add value kiosk serves as an attendant-free transfer machine, freeing up your employees to focus on bigger tasks than exchanging bills or adding funds from cards manually.
Track your Garments Religiously
It’s very important to state that Garment Tracking is a MUST in any successful laundry/dry cleaning business. Also if you can create a tool or application through which customers can also track their garments, then it would be an added advantage for your brand.
Have it in mind that you will need to systematize your processes and track your garments at every checkpoint. The best way to do this is to use the assistance of technology because if you depend on humans, errors will be made and eventually garment loss and wrong deliveries will take place. Note that one wrong delivery or lost garment can actually cost you one loyal customer and definitely the compensation cost.
Train your team
Indeed customer service can take place in person, online or over the phone. Irrespective of the mode and method, your team has to be ready for a complaint, question or concern. You should begin by getting everyone together and going over the emphasis on customer service.
Figure out where you interact the most with customers – is it in the store or via technology? Look for areas of weakness and opportunity for growth. Then, go over these elements with your team and brainstorm ways to improve.
Conduct a Survey
It is your duty to find out what your customers like, dislike, would like to see in the future. Are they willing to spend a little more for an extra hot wash? Drop-off service? Dry-cleaning? A snack bar? It’s advisable you ask your customers what they would like to see at your business. This can be a great way to make sure you’re meeting your customer needs.
Monitor all the deliveries and transactions like a shadow
Experts believe that the best way to do this is to have a dry cleaning POS Software at your store which can give you the necessary information. You would need tools like the cash report, order report, sales and delivery report etc.
Do check these reports every day and track all the transactions done, by whom they were done, how many garments were delivered today and how many needs to be delivered tomorrow. All this information will keep you in control of your business and your employees. Also have it in mind that your employees will also know that if they try to indulge in some theft, they would be caught in minutes.
You should consider offering “Free Wash” or other coupons to customers. It is a great way to get new customers to try your laundry for the first time, or to entice former customers to come back and try your service again. Only a portion of the coupons will be redeemed and you will generate some great attention and exposure for your laundry.
Work on the customers who are AT RISK to leave you
The major challenge comes when you have to pinpoint the customers who are at risk to leave your services. Indeed it is impossible to do manually. So how do you do that? You would need an enhanced tool which can do the trend analysis on all your customers.
This tool calculates the shopping pattern of every customer and also predicts the customer’s next visit to your store. So if suddenly a customer stops following his pattern and does not visit you on the predicted date, you can get an indication that he is at risk of leaving you.
After getting your numbers and facts, it is very important that you convince your customers to build confidence in you. They may have different reasons for losing interest in you such as increased prices, bad services, dissatisfied results, not treating them properly, etc.
Choosing a suitable Location
Successful entrepreneurs in this business will surely advice you against underestimating the power of a great location when starting up a laundry business. When searching for potential real estate, focus on locations that are near to your customers and easy to access.
For example, consider purchasing a location near several apartment complexes, beside an ample parking lot, and/or alongside a major road. In addition, be sure that your location isn’t too close to another successful laundry business.
Consider entering wash-dry-fold
Note that a unique way to benefit from this busy, on-demand culture is by entering the wash-dry-fold business. You should consider partnering with a local college or university to offer your services to college students. Also Wash-dry-fold provides another touch point with customers.
Offering your customers a thank-you card with your logo, company contact information, and the signature of the employee who handled the order personalizes the customer experience, creates employee accountability, and makes it easier to answer questions about an order if concerns arise.
Measure Your Business comprehensively
You have to keep measuring your business at regular intervals if you really want to gain substantial profits in this business. The key threat with most of the dry cleaners and launderers is that they do not have any way to actually measure their business and this leads to instinctive decision making rather than efficient decision making.
It is of utmost importance to have tools which can give you the right representation of the right data through the right channel. You need to be at the top of your business anytime, anywhere if you want to improve and create a lucrative Business model for yourself.
Remember Existing Customers
You should consider sending a mailer to your regular customer list at least once a month. This is a “preferred customer mailing” to only the most loyal customers, offering a free wash or dry or something free once a month. It is another way to keep customers happy and coming back and to remind them about your business.
It’s very important to state that some customers become bored watching their clothes spin in the washers and dryers. To increase your revenue, look for opportunities to add additional income sources to your laundromat. For example, do you have room for vending machines? What about arcade games? Could you offer a dry/fold service? Every penny counts.
Sports Sponsorships and Promotions
Consider partnering with a local college, little league, professional, or minor league sports team. Reports have shown that it is a great way to gain publicity and word of mouth from sports fans, and to generate additional income for your drop off laundry service.
Note that these fans will appreciate your contribution to the community, and also become more aware of your business and the services you offer. You can sponsor a Little League baseball team in the spring or an adult softball team. How about sponsoring a bowling team in the fall? You can do anything that adds value to the community.
Use new technology
It will be very nice to use new technology in your laundry. You can start with enhancing your customer experience by installing free Wi-Fi. Upgrade your machines to new energy-efficient ones that can save your customers time and reduce your utility bills. Finally, install smartphone-accessible security cameras so you can keep an eye on your store 24/7.
Create a Solid Reputation
Anytime a customer (whether new or old) comes in the door, it is your duty to make them feel welcomed. Build a clean and attractive environment, train your staff to greet customers, and always take customers’ critiques and concerns seriously. If your customers approve of your service, they will continue coming back and they might even spread the word about your awesome laundromat.
Begin with general cleanliness
If you don’t have someone steadily checking the parking lot to get rid of trash, then you should. What does it say about your facility if your parking lot is littered with debris? The last thing someone wants to see is a filthy parking area when they are leaving with their freshly laundered clothes.
Walk through your store several times a day to check that washer detergent trays are clean and clear, the floor is well swept, and machines are dusted. Also, keep your customers safe by keeping your laundry well lit, making sure machines are in working order, and removing obstructions.
Word-of-mouth always works
This form of advertising is perhaps the oldest form of marketing. Indeed it may bring slower results than radio or television, but it still works very well. These days people are becoming increasingly suspicious of paid advertising, and statistics has shown that word-of-mouth remains one of the most trusted methods in the world today.
When a customer is happy and satisfied with your service, there’s a natural human tendency that they are likely to share this experience with people in their circle of trust and influence – family, friends, colleagues, neighbours and sometimes, strangers. A satisfied customer is one of the most effective marketing and advertising tools a small business can ever have.
Consider an app
A lot of tech companies have made apps that cater to the laundry business. These apps can be especially beneficial if you’re in the delivery business. With a customer-facing app, you can send customers notifications when their laundry is ready to be picked up or when it has been delivered.
A driver app can calculate the most efficient pickup and delivery route and make it easier for someone other than your regular delivery person to step in and run a route. In addition, an app can help you track your business performance.
You need to understand that your customers can take their clothes to a number of other laundry businesses where their clothes will get just as clean, so why should they come to yours? People’s moods and attitudes are greatly influenced by what they see and feel about their surroundings.
If you look at some of the most successful retail businesses such as Starbucks, you’ll notice how much attention goes into making the atmosphere of their stores as inviting and comfortable as possible.
Starbucks’ patrons exhibit such a high degree of customer loyalty because of a certain expressive ambiance, reliable baristas, curated playlist, and the exact product they expect when they visit. A little paint and decor can go a long way with minimal investment. If you really want to make an impression, seek out an interior designer. You may be surprised at the difference investing in professional advice will make in the end.
You can provide your customers a way to stretch their budgets by offering a discount “punch card.” Customers receive a card from the attendant that is punched every time they use a washer. After a set amount of washes, the customer receives a free wash. This is a great way to encourage customer loyalty and keep them coming back to your business.
Increase your availability
No one would recommend a store with hard-to-find employees. The same goes for your laundry business, and one of the smartest things you can do is to be a visible leader at your company. This could even involve posting online on social media sites.
A regular blog post or video can help you connect with your customers, leading to a more positive relationship. In the store itself, keep employees available at all times. If you have a full-time staff, make sure at least one is on the floor or within reach. A small problem can be exacerbated by hard-to-locate staff.
Start in the Parking Lot
A lot of store owners don’t think about their customers until they walk in the front door. But you may be surprised at how a customer’s impression of your business can be improved if you look outside your windows. You need to understand that some of the best laundry business customers are families, and a family can generate a lot of laundry.
Hauling that laundry from the car to the store can be a daunting task. If you want to make an exciting first impression, have an attendant meet customers at their car with a laundry cart and offer to help them carry their laundry into the store. Experts believe that this alone is reason enough for a mother with a couple of kids in tow to drive past your competitors in favour of your store.
Get Listed on Popular Local Directories
Before the advent of the Internet, there were these very large books known as ‘the Yellow Pages’. Every person and business usually had their telephone numbers (and sometimes addresses) listed in the Yellow Pages. Maybe because there were fewer telephones back then (known as landlines) it was easy to get everybody’s names and numbers in one book.
But in this age and with over 800 million people with mobile telephones and personal privacy concerns, it would be impossible to do that. Thanks to the internet, small businesses can be listed for free on local directories.
When a small business is registered on a local directory, people around the world can find it on the map and view its contact information. The best part is, you don’t have to pay anything to become registered on these directories. Some of the most popular ones out there are Google Places, Yahoo Local and Bing Places.
Print and Distribute Flyers
They are simple but very effective ways to advertise your laundry business. They usually work best for small businesses that target customers within a particular area (such as university campuses, residential estates, offices and industrial areas). If you decide to try out this method of advertising, you don’t need to invest in very expensive flyers.
If you have limited funds, it’s best you focus more on the message you want to deliver and not on the pictures, graphics or colours. In fact, you can design a simple one for yourself using any of the free templates in PowerPoint on your computer. Some other FREE tools you can use to design really beautiful flyers are Canva.com and PicMonkey.com.
Laundry business Signage
Outdoor advertising, including the signs on the storefront, billboards and handbills, continues to be a popular and relatively inexpensive way to tell people where the store is located and what services are offered. Make sure your store has adequate signage on the front of the business and that it can be read and recognized from the street.
Connect with your customers
Having a bit of common ground can make a huge difference during a dispute, but connections can go beyond that. For instance, you can shed some light on the behind-the-scenes operations of your laundry business. Post a tour online or write up a biography detailing your own history.
The important aspect is adding a face to your business. The more visible you are, the easier it will be to handle customer relations concerns. As an added bonus, improved connections will also make your business more trustworthy and improve the overall feeling of safety.
Every morning, the first job for you or your staff is to clean your store thoroughly, at least once a day. This will take about two to three hours a day. The best time to clean is after customers have gone – that way you or your staff can clean more efficiently. You’ll also avoid the risk of customers slipping on wet floors or tripping over cleaning equipment.
If you have a large or busy laundry, you may find that it requires cleaning twice a day. You can wipe down the machines and folding tables easily while customers are in the store, but save the floor for after they’ve left or for a quiet period of the day.
Draft a prudent budget
You need to understand that a startup laundry business often does well in an averagely sized room. It takes a prudent owner to run a large-sized room due to the cost of operations incurred by the machines regarding power and repairs. A feasible budget will also be in line with the value of the lease. It’s advisable that you forget renting out a room in a building that will burn holes in the business due to overpricing. Other attributes of the budget will be permit fees, washer hook-up fees, equipment costs and construction charges.
If you plan to operate a 24-hour laundry business, you might want to consider hiring a security guard or install security and alarm system to ensure total peace of mind for your customers. You can’t ignore the importance of security and protection in your business, if not for anything but for the protection of your equipment and clients.
Online advertising is a must
A lot of people now depend on the internet for information. People are watching YouTube more than they watch television. Most people read news websites and online magazines instead of the paper versions. Even big companies have recognized this shift and are now investing more in online advertising over the traditional ones.
Since more people now spend more time on the internet, it only makes sense that you follow them there. There are different forms of online advertising but one of the most popular remains Google’s Adwords Program.
Google is by far the largest search engine on the internet and millions of people around the world depend on it everyday for information. It made more than $30 billion dollars from online advertising (in 2012) and this figure is expected to grow in the future.
Become part of the Community
Your laundry business clients generally live in the surrounding community, so being a part of what is important to that community can help you retain customers and attract new business. You can start by taking part in a local fundraiser, which is a great way to boost your image in the community.
A lot of businesses have had great success holding fundraisers for an area school, where a portion of the proceeds over a set time period are donated. It’s a great way to get press from local news outlets. Note that the positive press that will be generated will certainly get your name mentioned more often and probably attract new customers.
If your plan is to run a coin laundry business then a chore you’re not likely to delegate to an employee is to collect money from coin operated machines. You will need to empty each machine, preferably daily. You may want to pull (take out the coins) from one type of machine at a time so you can determine how often your customers are using each type of machine, starting with the top-loaders.
Do not forget to record these coins and record how much money you made on this type of machine, follow the same procedure with the front-loaders and the dryers.
Also for recording purposes, you should draw up a chart with seven rows, one for each day of the week, and columns for each type and size of equipment: top-loaders, front-loaders, dryers and vending machines. Then record on the chart how much money you withdrew every day.
Ensuring that the assets of your business are properly insured is a feat every emerging or already established company needs to do in order to ensure success in the long run. Not having insurance for the clothing left in your care can leave your business vulnerable to loss due to crime or unforeseen disasters.
Time of Day or Day of Week Promotions
Every laundry business has slow times and every laundry owner would like to improve business during these periods. So to improve business during your slowest periods, consider offering promotions during a certain time of day (such as “happy hour”) or certain day of the week (such as “Seniors Day”).
Note that by adjusting your pricing slightly during these periods and promoting this special time, you’re likely to grow your business. Decorate your store accordingly and consider offering snacks and drinks. Be sure to advertise the special days and nights and then call the local media to let them know what the store is doing.
Plan for breakdowns
When running a laundry business, you need to create a back-up plan for when your washing machine, dryers or irons breakdown. You’ll also need to factor in time to take care of accounting and track equipment, water and power usage.
Even the big kids get bored
Indeed even adults will get bored especially if you run a laundromat. The more reason why laundries these days have one or more TV’s mounted on the wall or have music playing and offer a selection of magazines to read. Some also keep the TVs tuned to one channel, some play videos, and others let customers change channels themselves.
If your laundry is unattended and you want to let customers change the channel, mount the TV low enough on the wall so they can reach the channel and volume buttons. Customers are likely to walk off with the remote control, even if it’s tacked to the table.
A lot of people think that the laundry business is about washing and ironing clothes, but it’s really about people. It’s a service business, and like any service business, you need to treat your customers well if you want them to return to your shop.
If you make out time to talk to your customers, you will be able to learn about their laundry needs and preferences for services. Without doubt, this kind of information will help you improve on the quality of your services so that you can attract even more customers.
This business is all about how comfortable your customers are and how much they could rely on your services. So if small talk with strangers leaves you cold, you can’t stand the thought of answering customers’ questions (often the same ones over and over), the laundry business may not be for you.
But if you like meeting new people, helping them work the machines, and listening to them talk while they wait for dryers to finish, you’ll find this business rewarding. Like all other businesses, running a laundry business takes commitment, so you have to be committed to it.