Ways to retain laundry customers (Part 1)

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 largely about building relationships, 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.


Some companies offer a reward or bonus based on the number of times a customer uses a service. After reaching the metric set by the business owner, the customer is rewarded in some way.

Hollywood screenwriter Hank Nelken says he got into laundry thanks to real estate. He was helping a lawyer sell a laundromat when the person decided to give up. Left to his own devices in the matter, Nelken bought the California company himself in 2018. He adds store #3 to his Half price laundry portfolio this month. Its busy San Fernando Valley stores offer self-service, wash and fold, commercial laundry, dry cleaning, pickup and delivery, and range in size from 2,500 to 4,000 feet. squares.

Its first two stores offer loyalty card payment which can be loaded with cash, credit card or EBT. Payment in the new store will be partly in coins, partly by credit card.

“The (loyalty) card system is kind of an automatic loyalty program because there are built-in bonuses, and you can earn bonus points and get free washes,” Nelken explains. “Just having the card system itself is a loyalty program. And you can change that, make it more appealing or less. It’s kind of inherent in the card system.

Laura Simoes and Kristyn Van Ostern just celebrated their fifth anniversary in the industry last month. They purchased an existing laundromat in April 2017 which became wash the streeta laundry service company that offers self-service, wash and fold, and dry cleaning (plus pickup and delivery for the latter two).

The 1,600 square foot facility operated by eight full-time employees serves the Manchester and surrounding New Hampshire areas. The owners agree that their business has grown much faster than they expected.

Their loyalty program related to wash and fold, dry cleaning and pickup and delivery is based on their POS system. From a coin perspective, it is a function of their cashless payment system.

“Our software programs, on both sides of the business, in many ways dictate what our loyalty program looks like. We have the ability within that to make changes, but we reward people who are customers. recurring,” says Van Ostern. “It’s really important to us so that we know we can count on them every week from a washing, folding and dry cleaning perspective, and on the coin side, it depends on the number of times you enter and the discounted or free services you get as a result.

Todd Layne Cleaners and Laundry got its start in New York in 2006, founded by management consultant Todd Ofsink.

“I saw a need for another type of laundry service specific to Manhattan. That really started my journey,” he says. “I saw two empty storefronts. One was a laundromat. closed, the other a hair salon. I combined the two and turned it into an eco-friendly dry cleaning and laundry business.”

The laundromat shares staff with the dry cleaning service, so it’s busy at all times when it’s open.

Ofsink always uses a punch card to retain customers.

“It’s the kind of thing, all the years we’ve been in business, it’s been very successful,” he says. “If someone is a self-service customer, we have a card with the punches, and after 10 punches, they get a free wash. Also, when we do laundry for them, after 10 bags of laundry, we give them up to 20 free books Sort of their 11and washing is free.

Even Todd Layne’s young millennial and Gen Z customers “love having this card,” Ofsink says, “pulling it out of their wallet to get the hallmark instead of just being an electronic program.”

Not everyone thinks it’s necessary to have a loyalty program.

Lloyd Silver purchased and retrofitted an existing laundry facility in Woodland, California, and its Sage Laundry Detergent celebrates its first birthday this month. Self-service, wash and fold, commercial laundry, and pickup and delivery are on the store’s menu.

Silver, who has owned a marketing agency for 15 years, was looking for ways to diversify her income during the pandemic. He wanted to put his marketing skills to use in a business that wouldn’t require a full-time involvement.

“It was an existing laundromat and it had a bad reputation,” he says. “I knew I had to come in and if I wanted to acquire loyal customers, I had to deliver an experience that was not just a bit better than it was, but the best experience they’ve had at a laundromat. automatique. I just wanted to blow people away.

And that effort begins the moment a customer walks through the front door: “When you walk into our store, we don’t have an attendant counter in the back, where you see them in many laundromats. Small window to the rear. No, I have a reception desk just in front. Our attendants, if not busy, are there to greet people as they come in.

With a focus on experience building, Silver sees no need to offer the promise of a few bucks for return business.

“When you hear ‘loyalty’ as a marketer, what comes to mind is a program that rewards repeat use. How can I reward my customers who keep coming back? I actually dismissed that pretty quickly,” he says. “I spoke to people in the industry that I respected, which confirmed my thinking. If we’re creating this amazing experience that they can’t get anywhere else, why do I have to keep them coming back?”

See you on Thursday for part 2!

Joseph P. Harris