Laundromats get a bad wrap. So do laundromat customers.
Bad laundromats tend to attract bad customers. As a laundromat owner, you can differentiate your store to distance yourself from both the bad reputation of laundromats and those laundromat customers with bad reputations.
Start by listening to feedback from your laundromat customers. These laundromat customers love to leave reviews. They’re sitting down for an hour while their clothes toss and tumble. When their Instagram feed runs out and there are no more texts to reply to, they’ll reach a limit where there’s not a whole lot left to do on their phone. That’s when they get so bored that they pull up Yelp and Google.
To create the best possible laundromat experience for your laundromat customers, you should have an understanding of the feedback they’re giving you in reviews. We’ve seen it all! From simply reading their reviews, here’s what we’ve learned about our laundromat customers from reading their feedback over the years.
Think like a customer – not an owner. Most laundromat owners and operators make decisions based on what they think their laundromat customers want. While you may think you know what your laundromat customer wants, you’ll be shocked with their responses.
Feeling unsafe and unclean.
Outdated or out-of-order equipment.
Not having enough space.
Over-promising and under-delivering.
Your staff working on WDF orders.
What channel the TV is on.
The brand of equipment.
If you walked into a hotel room that was as clean as your laundromat, would you be comfortable? How about a restaurant or retail store? Laundromat customers hate dirty laundromats! You should too…
If you’d walk right back out, why wouldn’t your customers? No one wants to do their laundry in a dirty space. Dirty laundromats tend to attract a lower quality customer that then creates more mess. This ‘flywheel of dirt’ is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sprinkle some shady characters in there and you have a perfect storm to scare away your laundromat customers.
It’s easy to overlook cleaning duties when you’re dealing with the day-to-day pressures of running your laundry business. Through the lens of sidework for your attendants, it’s easy to overlook. Through the lens of advertising to your customers for a repeat trip next week, it should be your number one priority.
Keep up with routine cleaning tasks like wiping down the laundry equipment (glass & stainless steel), mopping the floors, cleaning all flat surfaces, and emptying the garbage cans.
If it’s not clean and it’s not safe, don’t waste any marketing budget until it is.
Laundromat customers will drive past bad laundromats to reach a good location. While distributors try to sell you locations based on immediate demographics, most laundromat customers make decisions on much more than location. Finding a laundromat that is safe and clean is worth the extra minute or two in the car. The days of location-only customers are long gone!
Doing one deep clean weekly.
Dark and dingy fluorescent lighting.
Daily preventative maintenance.
Asking loiterers “How Can I Help?”
High ceilings & LED lighting.
Laundromat customers hate outdated or out-of-order equipment! It’s 2021. Customers these days prefer debit or credit card payments over quarters. A card system is worth the investment to upgrade conventional coin-only payment systems. If you have a lower socio-economic demographic and are afraid to go card-only, you can adopt a hybrid system with coin and card-based machines available in order to cater to a wide range of customer preferences.
When is the last time you went to a carwash that only took quarters? How about a grocery store that only accepts cash? Christ, sake! The girl scouts are taking Venmos these days…
We’ve found that customers who have to carry cash to exchange are much more price-sensitive than customers who can pay without handling the cash. It’s just plastic!
But, outdated equipment is better than out-of-order equipment. At least at the quarter-only car wash, you can still get your car washed. Paying for it might be an ordeal but you’ll leave with a clean car.
Out-of-order signs are a mood-killer in laundromats. If you have machines available, your customers will spread out and use more machines for the same amount of laundry. Let them! Get those machines working and start attracting repeat customers spread over ligher loads.
Pricing at $3.25 with quarters.
Saving on your repair bills.
Card or card-hybrid payment systems.
Pricing at $4.09 with cards.
Fixing your machines…
Laundromat customers hate not having enough space – including parking.
Parking is just as important as space inside the laundromat. A good rule of thumb is to provide one-and-a-half times more parking spaces than what the city requires for stores of similar size. This ensures that no matter what the time of day, your customers will have a place to park and can easily carry their laundry door-to-door.
Inside the laundromat, space is simple: 6 foot wide aisles, extra folding tables, and fast laundry carts.
Laundromats are getting bigger and bigger. The laundromat owners that used to build 3,000 square foot laundromats are now building 6,000 square foot laundromats. This is because customers want space!
In peak hours, there should always be available machines, available folding tables, and available carts that actually roll well.
Aisles at least 6-feet wide prevent rubbing shoulders with your neighbor. In a post-COVID world, it is hard to imagine anything less coming back to mainstream laundromat design. Those 6 extra machines you added to generate revenue might actually be limiting the space your customers have to load, unload, and fold their laundry. Instead of that $30k you spent, what would your customer retention be if you spent $3k on a couple of folding tables and a couple of extra laundry carts?
Having Top Loaders.
Adding more machines.
Doing everything you can to add more parking.
Anything but top loaders.
Adding more folding tables and laundry carts.
Laundromat customers tend to be viewed as commodity customers without many other options. This is becoming less and less true with more laundromats available to them.
If you say you open at 8am, open at 8am. If you say the wash & fold order will be ready at 5pm, have it ready by 5pm. If you sell detergents, have enough inventory of detergents to sell.
If you can’t deliver on these, don’t promise them. A clean laundromat is more than enough. Customers would rather be told no than be let down by under-delivering.
As a laundromat, you’re advertising the availability of machines and folding tables to help get laundry done. Have those available. It’s not rocket science.
If you’re delivering what you promise, you’re ahead of the conventional laundromat competition.
Doing too much.
Running a laundromat doesn’t need to be complicated. Offer updated equipment in a bright, clean, and safe environment to your customers. In fact, laundromat customers are much less price-sensitive than you think.
If you offer a pleasant experience, you’re off to a great start…