Keep Your Competitive Edge

AdobeStock_125792456 (1)When you’re running a laundromat, it can be easy to fall into a routine. The challenge is not falling into a rut. If you’re worried your store is getting a little rough around the edges, or your income isn’t what it used to be, it might be time to reevaluate your laundromat and restore your competitive edge.

That means taking a critical look at your store to identify any gaps in your service–as well as areas where you’ve got an edge. Whether you’re looking to increase the value of your business, improve customer experience or just maintain the traffic you have, it’s a good idea to look at your laundromat with fresh eyes at least once a year.

Look at your location

There are a lot of things about your business you can’t easily change. Like your location, your square footage or the demographics of your local area. But just because your business can’t change doesn’t mean other things aren’t changing. Take visibility, for example. Maybe your area has built up since you first opened, and now your store is lost amid dozens of other businesses. Is it time for a new sign?

Has the makeup of businesses around you changed? If you’re in a shopping mall where an anchor tenant has left and taken customers with it, look to your lease to see if that qualifies you for a reduction in rent proportionate to the loss in business.

Has the makeup of residents around you changed? Are there fewer families than there were five years ago, and more single professionals? Different groups may need different things. It could be as simple as offering signage in a second language. Or it could mean an opportunity for a big shift in business, like adding wash/dry/fold services.

Take stock of your machines

Your machines may be working, but do they look good? If a machine looks like it’s on its last legs, your customers may be hesitant to drop quarters in.

If you’re not keeping track of service and maintenance, you might not realize how many hours you’re spending on repairs or how long machines are out-of-order. Time is valuable.

Are some machines seeing heavy use, while others stay idle? It might be time to rethink your equipment mix. Survey your customers to see if they’re happy with the capacities you have–do they want bigger machines to do larger loads? More single-load machines? They may also appreciate alternative payment options like card readers.

Then there’s the space itself and the amenities you offer. Do you have enough laundry carts and folding tables to meet demand? Pay attention to whether your customers put in their laundry and leave, or if they stay in the store. Providing book nooks for kids makes parents happy, and adding amenities like vending machines and arcade games can provide opportunities for added income.

Review your marketing

Taking a good look at your business also means looking at how you are getting customers to your business. For many customers nowadays, if you’re not findable online, you’re not findable at all.

If you have a website, make sure it’s up to date. Whether or not you have a website, make sure your information is current on sites like Yelp and Facebook. While you’re there, see what customers are saying about you. A timely response to questions or complaints can go a long way.

If you are advertising in local publications, online or just by putting up flyers in the neighborhood, consider what you’re promoting and to whom. If you’re facing a lot of competition, especially in a high-density area, it’s not always about being cheaper or bigger: it’s about being able to distinguish yourself. Customers want more than low vend prices. They want available machines, convenient hours and comfortable amenities. Promote what your store has.

Take action

Once you’ve identified your strengths and your gaps, list out changes you want to make, then prioritize them based on what’s most cost-effective and realistic. If you’re still unsure of where to start, consider your equipment. Replacing even a few machines at a time can help improve your operation on several levels:

  • Customer experience: Improve the look of your store, get rid of out-of-order signs or offer more options.
  • Promotion: New equipment offers the perfect excuse to promote your business and potentially reach new customers.
  • Equipment mix: Optimize your equipment mix, such as replacing single-load machines with multi-load machines that fit in the same footprint.
  • Revenue opportunities: New Maytag® Commercial Laundry multi-load machines are programmable and offer flexible pricing options, including cycle add-ons and time-of-day pricing for when machines are in high demand.
  • Free up resources: Invest any money saved thanks to installing more efficient new machines (and any hours previously spent on maintaining old machines) in improving other areas of your business.

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