Dirty Laundry Never Takes a Vacation

By Jeff Gardner, CLA Member posted 02-27-2017 12:29


Summer Camps May Provide the Perfect Opportunity to Grow Your Laundry Business’ Wash-Dry-Fold Revenue

Campers.jpgSummer is just around the corner – which means that, for many kids, so is summer camp.

And, while going to camp has been a rite of passage for so many over the years, these summertime programs also pose ideal opportunities for many vended laundry operators all across the country to transform their stores into serious cash-making machines during the summer months.

What does that business look like? What are some of the opportunities for self-service laundry owners? And what can it mean for your laundry facility?

In essence, summer camps can offer several different business opportunities for store owners to provide wash-dry-fold laundry services. After all, parents typically will send their kids to camp for about two weeks. With two-week camp schedules, more than likely there will be some dirty laundry involved in the middle of that two-week stint – and potentially there will be a need to wash clothes more than once during the camp program.

Therefore, if the summer camp season is 10 weeks long, you’re looking at the potential for at least five different opportunities to process wash-dry-fold for those campers.

How is this type of laundry done? A lot of summer camps will bag the kids’ clothes and send them to you – where you will process the items by the bag and then either return the clean clothes or the camp will send someone to pick up the completed loads. Typically, laundry owners who service these types of accounts will work out a numbering or name-tag system with the summer camp in order to keep from getting all of the laundry loads mixed up.

As far as pricing, the best way to charge for this kind of work is by the bag, rather than by the pound. This way, those running the camps and the kids’ parents will know exactly what they’re paying for your services. This is a key point, especially for the parents. They like to know that they’re going to be paying $20, for instance – no more and no less – for their child’s laundry services while he or she is away at summer camp.

Of course, some of these summer camps can accommodate a few hundred kids, so you’ll also definitely need to think about how you’re going to physically process that type of volume. In general, many laundry owners who handle summer camp accounts will spread out the loads over two or even three weekdays, doing the camp laundry in batches. Clearly, laundry from smaller camps can be done all at one time.

Beyond the traditional summer camps, there also are short-term camps during the summer – such as music camps or Christian camps – which can provide similar laundry opportunities.

There is a group called Outward Bound, which is an international, non-profit, independent outdoor-education organization with approximately 40 schools around the world and 200,000 participants per year. Outward Bound programs were created to foster the personal growth and social skills of participants by using challenging expeditions into the outdoors.

Over the years during the summer, we’ve done a lot of work with Outward Bound, cleaning their camping equipment and gear for their educational trips.

In addition, we have people who stay just outside the city in a campground area that has been built and is maintained along the Mississippi River for research – and we’ll offer bedding service for them two or three times during their stay for their summer programs.

Another great summer camp opportunity for vended laundry owners is to process the towels, linens, bedding and anything else that is provided by the local camps in your area.

Much like with doing the laundry for the campers, when processing summer camp linens, you’ll discover that most of the time these clients will prefer that you charge by the piece, versus by the pound. This is because they know they’ve got, let’s say, 300 people participating in their camp program over the summer, so they know they will need to have 300 towels for them, 300 sets of sheets, 300 pillow cases and so on. They will understand those types of numbers, so when you go to quote this type of account, you’ll certainly want to consider quoting it in such a manner that you take into consideration this “piece vs. poundage” mentality. Simply put, charging by the piece makes your numbers and estimates much easier for the camp operators to plug into their budgets.

Also, handling summer camp linens is, essentially, a commercial account – and it’s a segment that’s often serviced by many of the large linen companies, who will rent linens to the camps and charge rather high rates because the camps are on necessarily short-term, seasonal contracts, rather than providing the linen companies with year-round business.

As a result, the big commercial companies have to pull inventory out of their regular stock or build up their inventory to handle that short period of time – so they will attempt to recoup the cost of that inventory, as well as all of the labor costs.

Given that, it’s typically rather easy for a laundry owner to offer a summer camp competitive pricing if the camp’s owners are currently relying on a large linen company to supply its linens, towels, bedding and other items.

All in all, whether choosing to handle the personal laundry of summer campers, the linen service of the camps themselves or both, there are several great seasonal opportunities coming up in the next few months that will help you grow your wash-dry-fold revenue. After all, dirty laundry never takes a vacation.


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