We always get the question … why laundromats? And the answer has always been, because this business has a lot of untapped potential. When we decided to get into the laundromat business, we always knew we wanted to do things differently. Different than our competition and, more importantly, than what’s considered ‘normal’. We knew that these investments would pay off in the long run, and we’re looking to be in this business for a long time. The three words that guide our business are: modern, clean and friendly. When making the decision on whether we’d be attended vs. unattended, it was a no-brainer for us. We had to be attended, at all times. Ensuring we had someone at the store keeping the place clean and helping customers throughout the day was very important to us.
That said, we also know that for any small business owner, payroll is one of the biggest expenses. Hiring employees is time consuming and will add to your expenditure a great deal. You need to be prepared financially and emotionally, therefore, finding the right store attendant is key. In order to justify this expense, you need someone who is hardworking, trustworthy, and good with customers. You need someone who adds more value to your business than takes away from it. You need someone who can help you justify this expense. If you’re still on the search for that right person, then start by tapping into yourselves and your network of family and friends for help. Once your business takes off and you have increased income, then look into hiring more permanent full-time people to help you grow your business.
If you’re on the fence about whether you should be attended vs. unattended, here are some considerations for why you should still consider an attended store:
Customer service: Making your customers feel welcomed to your laundromat is good for business and can offer free marketing for your store. Word of mouth is a powerful way of securing and bringing in new customers. In this day and age, online reviews have become the best form of word of mouth. Make sure, at a minimum, you have a Yelp account, a Google My Business account and a social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) account where customers can interact with your business. When your attendant wows a customer, the customer will often respond with gratitude or praise and will leave a positive comment. That said, be aware that people will also use these platforms to leave negative reviews. You need to remember that both happy and unhappy customers will go and tell their friends and you’d rather they tell others good things.
Access to help: Have you ever gone into a store and weren’t sure where an item was located, and there was no one around to help you? Well, having an attendant at your laundromat will help ease your customer's mind if they become overwhelmed or just need to know how things work. With technology advancements in today's world, more than likely, your laundromat will have some new up-to-date machinery that can confuse or discourage the customer. Our store, for example, is card operated which we knew would be a huge learning curve for customers in the area. It was important to have someone present who could help guide customers through their ‘getting started process’ and resolve any issues that arose beyond technology. This has helped us maintain our customer base with little attrition.
Cleanliness: While doing research on the laundromat business, some of the biggest complaints were around store cleanliness and machines not working. We’ve had our store open for over a year now, and we still stop by any laundromat we come across - in California or out of State. You can tell those that are well taken care of, and those that aren’t. Having someone present allows you to maintain a certain look and feel for your store. If there’s a spill because someone put too much soap in the machine, then the attendant can get to it ASAP and also help educate customers on the right machine protocols. They can ensure that your store stays clean and presentable. Our attendants are constantly cleaning, sweeping, and sanitizing the machines, which has also helped our customers feel safe, especially during the pandemic.
Safety and security: Attendants add a great deal of safety and security to your business. Many customers often find comfort in seeing someone present at your establishment. When a machine goes out of order, attendants can help troubleshoot the issue or put an 'out of order' sign so someone else doesn’t encounter the same issue. In addition, having someone present can help deter crime or theft during the day, and honestly prevents homeless people from camping-out at your store. If you’re like us, our laundromat is located in a less affluent neighborhood, and having someone present has really deterred ‘random’ people from frequenting our store and making customers feel uneasy. In addition, when something happens, the attendant is available to help and can quickly call the police to handle sticky situations that arise.
More value from the dollar: Even though there is a cost associated with having an attendant, there are ways to get more for your buck. An attendant adds substance to your business, through their ability to balance customer service and duty requirements, thus netting you more value for the dollar. In addition, you can easily add value items like selling branded laundry bags, plus processing wash and fold orders, which the attendant can handle. In this case, you bring in more value from the dollar you spend.
We realize that having an attended vs. unattended store still comes down to your business model and what works for you. If you were on the fence, hopefully these 5 reasons provide you some food for thought. Don’t just pay attention to the dollar value, but consider the full picture to make the best decision for your business. To learn more about us, check us out at https://www.safilaundry.com/