Retooling: The Gateway to a Stronger Industry

By Brian Grell, CLA Member posted 02-27-2017 15:03

  
BrianGrellTalk.jpgFor the past year or so, I’ve been traveling the country giving presentations on how to become a better, more successful laundry operator. I’ve been talking to store owners, distributors… basically, anyone who will listen.

I’ve gone to Coin Laundry Association events, distributor open houses and manufacturer sales meetings – preaching the gospel of how to make the laundry industry more customer-friendly, more efficient and more profitable.

I’ve focused on equipment retooling as the main driver, along with leasehold renovations (especially restroom makeovers). But it’s not just about equipment retooling. There’s also retooling marketing, customer service, the laundry customer experience and the way owners operate.

Have you ever heard of “Zombie Laundries” – or “Zombie Mats?” I’ve used this term repeatedly to describe vended laundries with old and inefficient equipment, subpar facilities, cringe-worthy restrooms, poor signage and terrible (if any) customer service. These are just some of the issues laundry owners need to address when retooling to give customers the best possible experience.

As I’ve crisscrossed the country on my mission to eradicate “Zombie Mats” everywhere, these are some of the key topics I’ve touched on:
 
•    For attended stores, hiring and training quality attendants are critical to providing excellent customer service.

•    Operating expenses, if unchecked, will eat away at your profits. Newer, more efficient equipment will help lower utility costs and lead to increased revenue.

•    Restrooms, which are often overlooked, are quickly becoming a focal point for today’s customers. A laundry’s restroom is one of the quickest ways to determine how well (or how poorly) a store is being run.

Why am I so passionate about retooling and making the industry better?

It’s simply because I believe in this industry as a creator of wealth for a broad spectrum of Americans. From multi-generation operators to new immigrants to retirees, laundry owners have found a profitable way to provide a needed service to their communities.

And I am convinced that – if the 70 percent to 80 percent of laundries across the country that operate below their potential will embrace change – they will become better. Our industry will benefit as a whole as more and more laundry facilities upgrade and operate like true retail establishments.

Our goal must be to make people want to do laundry in our stores again – and to give them that WOW experience!

How can laundry operators achieve this? I call it the Three R’s of Laundry:

Retool, Rehab and Reinvigorate!

The net result will be greater profitability and an enhanced customer experience – a win-win for all. Many owners who have retooled and rehabbed stores have told me about the renewed energy and sense of purpose they get when they retool. Their employees are happier to come to work and their customers love doing laundry in brightly lit stores with new machines – but, most importantly, the store operator is more motivated to make his or her business a success. And the benefits go beyond just the operators and their customers. Manufacturers, vendors, the community and even the environment all gain when the laundry industry makes a concerted effort to become better.
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