Monday, August 8, 2011

Teach Your Customers To Do Their Laundry - Create A Positive Store Personality

My friend Jena just turned twenty-three and I took her and another friend Emily to a restaurant to celebrate her birthday. The world considers Jena to be an adult, but in many ways she still has the mind of a teenager. I snapped this picture of her “taking a bite” out of a paper hamburger.

23 years old and all grown up - really? - she still has things to learn.

Although Jena is smart, talented, and even employed in the midst of this depression, I realize from my mature position as a true adult – since I am five years older – that Jena doesn’t know everything there is to know.

Our friend Emily was with us at the lunch with her beautiful baby Yvette.  Emily is twenty-four years old, and has the responsibility of raising a husband – opps, I mean – baby, and still is learning a lot of  “grown up” things, including doing your laundry properly.  The phrase "babies raising babies" jumps into my mind.
During our lunch discussion, Emily asked me a question about washing her new blue jeans.  She was worried they would bleed and ruin her other clothes.  Everyone thinks I know everything about laundry, because I work for a Laundromat distributor and am therefore "in the business."

Yvette may think mommy knows everything, but . . .    
After helping her with her question, I realized that many young women really don’t know very much about doing their laundry.  Laundry is something everyone has to do.  We may have paper hamburgers, but we live in a world that doesn't use throwaway paper clothing, so it’s a job every woman will have to learn to do well.
I also thought, I bet most Laundromat owners could benefit from knowing that all of their customers don't know as much about washing clothers as one might think.  Putting in place a program of teaching customers how to do laundry would be a great benefit.  Laundromat owners could use cute signs, a brochure, or use your attendants to share a little knowledge with your customers.
Here are the items I think you should concentrate on teaching customers about washing their clothes in your Laundromat:
1)  Teach customers that washing is a family affair.  Use your husband or boyfriend to pre-sort the clothes at home.  The children can also help and put the items into pillow cases or laundry bags.  No matter how young, the children of the family can help with the laundry and it can become a time to bond and share work together.
     My favorite
2)  Teach customer about the washing chemicals.  Every customer uses a variety of laundry aids to get their clothes clean.  Review and explain soaps, detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets – and especially bleaches, dry and liquid – so your customers know what the chemicals are supposed to do and how much should be used in each washer load.  Explain the newer lower suds soaps for use in front load washers.
3)  Teach customers to pre-treat their clothes.  Your customers will return more often if their clothes come out cleaner in your Laundromat.  Keep some pre-wash stain treatment in the backroom and offer it for use for free to your customers.  It comes in stick, spray, or liquid.  Your attendants should also have the treatment available, and the knowledge to be able to offer advice on how to use the product.  Tell your customers that pre-treatment works best if it is put on the clothes immediately after the clothes are taken off and the stain is discovered.   If you teach your customers to form this as a habit, you’ll have a bunch of customers with stain-free clothes and a great reputation in the neighborhood.  My favorite - and the one I use - is Soilove.  It's available at most 99 cent stores.  Inexpensive and it works great.
4)  Teach customers to separate their colors.  Sorting clothes is something a lot of young people don’t understand.  Whites should go into one pile that can be treated with liquid (chlorine) bleach and washed in hot water.  Colors into another pile and a washed with regular detergents and powdered bleaches (or color enhancers) and washed in warm water.  Reds should probably be washed in their own load in cold water to keep the colors bright and reduce the loss of dye.  Same thing with jeans, which can bleed the first few times they are washed, and will stain other clothing.  Treating the first time you wash with vinegar with se the dye into the fabric and it won’t bleed.
        I can see the wrinkles setting in
5)  Teach customer to fold their clothes correctly.  Sounds simple, but most people do not fold their clothes correctly.  It should be folded as soon as it comes out of the dryer.  Wrinkles can set in quickly – especially the permapress and synthetic fibers – so you need to fold them before they cool and set in the wrinkles.  Most people don’t have a routine for folding.  Certain items can be folded cold, such as towels, underwear, shirts, and socks.  Shirts and dresses should be put on hangers first.
These five tips should help your customers get a better experience in your Laundromat.  Some people will be offended is your suggest helping them – but that’s OK – others will be very grateful and appreciate the advice.  You are creating the personality of your Laundromat, and a good personality results in more and happier customers.
Going back to my birthday lunch meal with Jena, Emily and little Yvette, I just want you to see the shoes that Emily was wearing.  She may not know that much about doing her laundry, but she is an expert in picking out beautiful shoes.  :)
                                    -The Latina Laundromat Advisor

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How To Make Laundromats And Coin Laundries More Appealing To Women

Laundromat users - each with two children - have suggestions for you

I took a trip recently with my girlfriends Marla and Lena. We went to Las Vegas for a few days of "fun in the sun" and spent some time by the hotel pool. We only went to see a few of the fabulous shows and entertainers on the Strip. We didn't do any gambling or dancing. : )

Of course the subject of Laundromats always comes up on those long trips across the desert from LA to Las Vegas. Both my friends use Laundromats in their neighborhoods and were complaining to me that Laundromats don't consider the needs of their female customers.

Marla believes that Laundromats are generally used by women - and owned by men - and feels that men can sometimes overlook the needs of their customers. She would like to see a play area for her two children. It would be an attraction to her to use a Laundromat that had one; she could concentrate on sorting and washing her clothes if an enclosed play area was provided.
Ariana, a future Laundromat user has needs too

Lena responded that she wished Laundromats would provide a baby changing table in their restrooms. Many shops, stores and restaurants have them, and she wonders why such a women oriented business as Laundromats don't have them. She hates having to change her babie's diapers in front of other customers and thinks it's just "stinky and icky." 
Marla chimed in that her life would have been easier during her pregnancies if her local Laundromat owner would have provided a few chairs and a lower folding table or two so she could have sat down and folded her clothes, instead of standing on her swelling feet the entire time. 
Lena said said that when she was on a visit to Canada a few years ago she had the opportunity to use a Laundromat that included free soap (injected liquid soap) in all their washers. 
She went on to say, that it is really is difficult to drag two children, five loads of clothes, a large bag of Ariel, fabric softener, stain remover, and a bottle of bleach into the Laundromat. It would be very nice if her Laundromat offered her free soap and bleach so she didn't have to carry those items around. She would use the Laundromat more frequently, instead of using the washers in her apartment building when she didn't feel up to lugging all the items to the Laundromat. 
She added "why not buy some small lockers (like at the health club) so the regular customers who wanted the service could store their favorite soaps and bleaches in lockers." It would be beneficial and lock the customers into returning to the Laundromat.
Marla said she had an idea that would be great if Laundromat owners would only listen. The owners could buy a few of the baby chairs (like the ones used in restaurants), so she could strap her children into these chairs instead of putting them in laundry baskets on the folding table. She sees other women put their children into laundry carts - exposing them to potential laundry cart tip over injuries. If a better option was available, fewer children would be in the carts.

Mommy, don't they have a booster chair for me?

When I returned home I thought, I wonder how many owners really sit down and think of ways to make their Laundromats more appealing to women. Marla and Lena considered the issue from the viewpoint of young mothers, but I bet a lot of smart owners have suggestions others could use for the various ages of the women who use they Laundromats. 

What do your female customers want? What would make them return again? Every owner would be wise to consider what it would take to make their Laundromat more female friendly. Good ideas means good business, and good business makes money. 
As for our trip, we got wet, relaxed, and returned with most of our money. The economy, recession, lack of flowers in our lives, and the rising costs of perfume all seem to disappear as we consumed our favorite icy drink at the hotel pool. ;)

                                           -The Latina Laundromat Advisor