As any store owner will tell you, one of the toughest parts of running a vended laundry business is hiring – and then hanging onto – quality attendants. However, one of the ways some laundromat operators are overcoming this hurdle is by providing performance incentives in the form of bonuses for their laundry attendants.
Many laundry owners will offer end-of-year/holiday bonuses to their attendants at a fixed percentage of their wages. Others may choose an arbitrary number. This is great, but if they’re not tied to a performance goal, your employee bonuses may not serve as a motivator for staff members to work more efficiently. What’s more, this method of applying a fixed percentage bonus to everyone may have its drawbacks.
If you choose to provide attendant bonuses based on performance, the next step will be deciding upon which performance metric to base these bonuses. For example, with regard to your wash-dry-fold operation, employees who are responsible for this particular task may receive bonuses based on the average volume of laundry they have processed per week. Or, if you have a robust customer tracking system, perhaps you also can use client complaints as a performance measurement tool.
If you track service complaints or customer reviews, you potentially can use them to help determine the bonus level for your entire staff. Has your gross revenue increased? If so, a bonus may be in order for the whole team. Did your laundromat receive more negative reviews regarding customer service this year than last year? Maybe the bonus for the group will be smaller. Again, this may be a great way of ensuring equal treatment for all of your employees, but it also may sow the seeds of discord, especially if the team believes that some workers are getting a free pass or an undeserved bonus check.
When is a good time to hand out bonuses? The December holiday period is when many small businesses pay bonuses to their staff members. However, perhaps consider Thanksgiving for your bonus payouts; your attendants very likely would appreciate the extra money for Black Friday shopping. Another idea is to spread out your employee bonuses over a number of holidays, lessening the financial impact of paying all of them at once.
Clearly, finding and hiring experienced, well-trained and customer-service-oriented employees can be challenging. In addition, your requirements for a laundry attendant may be even higher than normal, depending on the location of your store and the demographics of your particular marketplace. As a result, your newspaper advertisement or that “Help Wanted” sign in your window for a bilingual attendant with laundromat experience may not be enough to fill the open position to your satisfaction. In such cases, adding a sign-on bonus could be just the boost you need to round out your staff.
As nice and as shiny as your new washers and dryers may be, they’re not the face of your retail, self-service laundry business – your employees are! Their knowledge, customer service and ability to help customers through their wash day are essential to the success of your business. The phrase, “Slow to Hire, Quick to Fire” has become a mantra for many laundry owners when pertaining to attendants. However, I would suggest a change to that credo; I much prefer – “Hire Well, Pay Well, Sleep Well.”
Your laundry business may be valued in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. So, why leave it in the hands of a $7.25 an hour attendant. Instead, attract good talent, train them well and compensate them well. If they exceed the goals you’ve set for them, go that extra mile with a fair bonus.