Six Steps to Spring Cleaning Your Laundry Business

By Bob Nieman, CLA Member posted 03-27-2018 16:23

  
You live and breathe your vended laundry business – making the very best use of your limited time, and building a solid set of processes you can rely on to keep the cash flowing.

Of course, getting those systems and processes right isn’t a one-shot deal – it’s something you should be constantly revisiting. And the arrival of spring is a perfect opportunity to take stock of how far you’ve come and to do some housecleaning with regard to your laundromat.

To make this “spring cleaning” process a littler smoother, here are six steps that will help you dust the winter cobwebs off your operation:

1. Take on one tiny problem first. Just as with cleaning your house, it’s easy to get overwhelmed at the thought of how much work is in front of you. The key to actually getting something done is to build a little momentum right out of the gate.

Start by tackling a minor problem that’s self-contained and easy to fix. It could be something as simple as changing a lightbulb or cleaning out space in your storage room – small, quick tasks are on the agenda here. The point is to get one completed task up on the scoreboard as quickly as possible to confirm to yourself that, yes, you are actually doing this!

2. Identify a big, hairy mess to deal with over time. Sadly, not all your spring cleaning problems will be small ones. There are bound to be urgent matters to attend to in your business – issues that fill you with dread. Break these problems into small pieces to gain some clarity. Again, the key here is to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Your second task is to identify one of the trickier organizational issues you face and consider it in isolation. Rather than panicking about how you’re going to approach it, break the task into digestible chunks and put them on some sort of schedule. Even the simple act of isolating “mini-tasks” will make the overall work much less daunting, and you’ll pick up some useful momentum as you blast through each one.

3. Throw an outsider at your processes. Running a laundromat – or any small business, for that matter – requires a certain degree of tunnel vision to stay on top of everything. The risk is that it’s genuinely difficult to take a step back and spot potential areas of improvement when you’re busy scrambling to keep the lights on and the machines turning.

One of the simplest ways to identify potential areas of improvement is to get someone else to handle the tasks you take for granted. Whether it’s bookkeeping chores, fulfilling a wash-dry-fold order, or dealing with customer refunds, get an outsider into your business and try to talk that person through the task. Simply explaining your approach to common processes out loud is sure to highlight weak points in execution, and the feedback will often identify easy improvements you might never have thought of alone.

4. Walk a mile in your customer’s shoes. The next step is to turn yourself into a customer for a day. Many laundry owners are so used to looking at their businesses from “behind the cash register” that they’ve forgotten how things feel for their customers.

Map out a typical self-service customer’s journey through your store, or a wash-dry-fold client’s trek through your drop off and pickup process – and actually take those trips yourself. Walk through it, step by step. Look for areas of potential friction or uncertainty that could hurt future business and cost you money.

5. Have a chat with your future self. The next step might sound a little warm and fuzzy, but it’s a practical mental hack that delivers results. Picture yourself sitting in your laundromat a year from now, and ask yourself what positive aspects have changed over the last 12 months. For example, how did you set yourself up for the successful year you’ve just had, and what processes and resources did you add or remove?

By mentally working backward from this feel-good scenario, you should more clearly see the practical steps required to actually get there. A detailed chat with the 2019 version of yourself will set you up psychologically for success and provide a roadmap to attain it.

6. Create a spring cleaning schedule. At this point, you should have made some serious progress toward tidying up your act. The key now is to put this spring cleaning process on your schedule. Committing to a regular date turns a chore into a welcome opportunity.

Rather than a dimly defined burden that hangs over you each year, spring cleaning should be a predictable event you actively anticipate. The simple act of putting next year’s start date on your calendar will solidify a healthy habit for your business.

Every business can benefit from an annual review of its operations, and there’s no better time than spring to do it.
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