Ways to retain laundry customers (conclusion)

CHICAGO — Attracting someone to try your self-service laundry business or wash and fold service for the first time is fine.

Convincing that unique customer to come back a second or third time is better.

Captivating this semi-regular customer so that he does not go anywhere else is better.

Improving customer retention is highly dependent on relationship building, including your ability to understand your customer’s needs and create a consistently great experience every time they interact with you. Mutual esteem and understanding can lead to what every smart laundry owner is looking for: customer loyalty.

In pursuit of this goal, laundromat operators often use a variety of tools to build a repeat customer base. Part 1 looked at loyalty programs, Part 2 discussed discounts and freebies, and Part 3 covered payment types and social media promotion. Let’s conclude:


Is it easier or more difficult to retain a customer today?

“I think it’s definitely gotten harder, and I’m talking more about the New York market,” says Todd Ofsink, CEO of Todd Layne Cleaners and Laundry At New York. “There are a lot of new competitors. There are a lot of cash-backed operations that are nothing more than a technology platform that then outsources all the work to other places. There are at least five new ones here in New York in the last two months, so I think it’s harder to keep that loyalty.

“From my point of view, it’s much easier,” says wash the street co-owner Kristyn Van Ostern, based in Manchester, New Hampshire. “We could be better than five years ago. I will say that our customer base seems to be more apt to use (our discount codes).

“I think part of that is because we’re also better known,” adds Laura Simoes, partner. “We have built a lot of trust with our own customers, and then they, in turn, have trusted us with others.”

“I don’t know if that has changed in three or four years,” says Hank Nelken, owner of three Half price laundry locations in the San Fernando Valley of California. “I really think customer loyalty is all about service. You can do promotions and stuff, but at the end of the day it seems people come because you have friendly attendants, (your store is) clean , the machines are working, it is supported.

“It’s in terms of the stores themselves. Then pickup and delivery is a whole other level of service. If it’s responsive, on time, the clothes look good, that’s what keeps people coming back.


“If you’re ready to create the right experience, it’s easy to create that kind of customer loyalty,” says Lloyd Silver, CEO of Sage Laundry Detergent in Woodland, California. “If you’re offering the same experience as everyone else, then I think it’s going to be really difficult, because now you’re just fighting for the lowest cost.”

“Loyalty is as much about setting up that communication channel and making sure (your customers) know how to access it as it is about discount codes,” says Van Ostern.

“If you provide good service, good customer service plus a good product, the service you provide, a clean environment, at a fair price, I think that always has been and always will be the key to success for this type of business,” says Ofsink.

Missed an earlier part of this article? You can read it here: Part 1 — Part 2 — Part 3

Joseph P. Harris