Clean 2017 Targets Full-Service Laundry Model

By Jeff Gardner, CLA Member posted 08-30-2017 12:21

  
Laundry Apps and Organizational Tools for Processed Wash-Dry-Fold Orders on Display in Las Vegas

This year’s Clean Show was a huge hit on so many different levels – not the least of which being the new products and technologies now available to the wash-dry-fold segment of the industry. Specifically, Clean 2017 focused the attention on two interesting and critical aspects of the full-service, pickup-and-delivery laundry model as we head into the future – (1) laundry apps and (2) improved methods for presenting and organizing processed wash-dry-fold orders.

The show floor in Las Vegas had several different exhibitors displaying laundry-based apps. As you probably already know, vended laundries and even some drycleaners have experienced huge increases in their wash-dry-fold business over that last few years. I don’t see this trend going away. In fact, I see it increasing going forward.

So, as an industry, how do we handle the increased demand for full-service laundry services and do the work efficiently, especially with the rising cost of labor? Clearly, the more we can automate and computerize, the better we will be able to deal with this growth. That’s where the app companies come in.

I strongly suggest looking into some of these app providers. Although I’m not going to discuss the specific options available, I’d like to provide some key questions to consider as you do your due diligence in deciding which app is right for your business.

The first question is whether or not you plan to take in drycleaning. Do you want to offer drycleaning as part of your pickup and delivery service? If so, you’re going to want to make sure the app you chose can facilitate that process.

The second question is how payments will be processed. There are a couple of different ways in which apps can be integrated within your business. Some apps will strictly facilitate your drivers’ pickup and delivery routes, overseeing that process. Other apps will actually charge the customer and take care of the financial transaction as well – which then can either be directly deposited into your bank or it can go through their system, with you receiving your percentage of the transaction.

The third question is what the app tracks on the backend. Once you get the laundry to your operation, do you prefer to have a stand-alone POS system, or do you want your app to keep track of the garments internally?

The fourth question is how the app will interface with your website, if at all. Will the app feature your brand or the app provider’s brand? There are some app-based options that feature national marketing and national recognition, and such a partnership could be something from which you could potentially benefit. By contrast, there are some apps that will enable you to use your laundry’s own brand; therefore, if you feel your brand is strong enough, you may want to continue to utilize it. Either way, it’s a question you’ll need to answer.

The fifth question is how the app company gets paid. Most providers are interested in receiving a percentage of the business – in essence, they’re asking to be your business partner. They’re going to increase their revenues as you increase your business. Some of them will ask for large setup fees upfront, because they know your business probably won’t be that large in the beginning. However, they’re banking on your business growing and receiving a larger stream of revenue down the road.

As your business grows, some app companies will decrease the percentage of revenue they require. They recognize that, as you become more successful, you should be able to keep more of your profits.

Due to the nature of web-based businesses and constantly changing formats, there are no app-based products I’m aware of that are one-time pay. And, more than likely, you wouldn’t want that type of arrangement, because such a provider wouldn’t be able to maintain all of the technological changes that are constantly occurring – from hand-held and web-based technologies to financial interactions and new products.

The reality is that you will always have some type of revenue-sharing agreement with your technology supplier, giving that company an income stream to support the ever-changing and growing technology industry, and ensuring that your app will remain current and relevant within the marketplace.

Getting Organized

The other big buzz at Clean 2017 revolved around all of the options available to help the finished wash-dry-fold product not only look good, but also make it more efficient and easier to transport. Many laundry operators are adding a home delivery segment to their wash-dry-fold model; as a result, if you’re loading a van full of wash-dry-fold laundry, how do you do that in the most efficient way possible? How do you do it in a way that keeps the garments not only organized, but also neat and presentable?

In Las Vegas, several manufacturers featured new wash-dry-fold bags with flat bottoms, handles and the ability to be stacked and organized within a delivery vehicle or on a shelf at your store.

When I visit other laundromats, one of my pet peeves is a disorganized wash-dry-fold area where it’s nearly impossible to find the finished products. Wash-dry-fold customers are paying for convenience. When they come in, they don’t want to wait while your attendant rumbles through the 20 or 30 other wash-dry-fold orders that are sitting behind the counter, as they try to find the right order.

Therefore, coming up with a system to package and store and/or package and deliver orders in an organized manner will not only save labor for you, your drivers and your in-store staff, but also will enhance the customer experience.

I believe that carefully considering some of the new app-based technologies and organizational tools designed for wash-dry-fold laundry – which were showcased at this year’s Clean Show – are two great ways to successfully and profitably build the full-service category of your laundry business.
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