As 2008 comes to a close, American Coin-Op takes a look back at the year’s best ideas and most interesting stories. Many of these stories, which are organized as they appeared in print, appear here at AmericanCoinOp.com, which is now updated nearly every weekday. If you want to get a head start on 2009, sign up for a subscription, free to anyone in the industry, by filling out a form here.
There are simple ways to put the spotlight on your store. Here are some inexpensive ideas:
• On slow days, offer a discount on equipment or drop-off service.
• To promote earlier hours, offer quarters to the first 10 people into the store.
• You can draw attention by hanging an unusual mural or painting, or even having some type of mascot.
• Provide some fabricare education.
• Start a newsletter.
• Start a customer loyalty program.
• Focus on the children. Give away a prize to the child who reads the most books during the summer.
Pairing some type of car wash with a coin laundry can be a winning idea. Self-service bays are a logical choice for a coin laundry owner, say two representatives from Mark VII Equipment, a car wash equipment manufacturer.
The annual distributor survey shows that half of the distributors had an increase in business in 2007, while 19.4% saw business dip last year. Business stayed the same for 30% of the distributors.
If you’re thinking about expanding or simply retooling your current store, there is a good supply of expansion credit available for owners who run a successful business and purchase good equipment, says John Hoffman, U.S. Capital Corp CEO.
What goes into running a great drop-off service? Stephen Banko, a Pennsylvania operator, offers the following tips:
• Treat the service as its own entity.
• Use on-premise laundry equipment so attendants don’t have to add soap, bleach or softener.
• Offer some stain-treatment preparation.
• Market the service.
• Have a pickup and delivery service plan if customers aren’t home when the orders aren’t returned.
• Try to have the profits cover all employee expenses.
Don’t get the holiday blues, Mark Benson says. The simplest, inexpensive thing to do is decorate your store. Celebrate lesser-known holidays based on your customers’ varied interests.
Two operators are utilizing dollar coins. Tony Oxendine, a North Carolina operator, has dual coin slots on his machines. His goal is to increase the turns on the larger machines, and he believes customers like the setup. Bob Getschel, a New York operator, modified his equipment bit by bit, until his whole store accepted dollar coins.
If you’re putting together a new store, you might keep the following design concepts in mind:
• You need at least five feet of aisle space.
• Put larger washers up front.
• Make sure you have enough folding tables.
• Makeup air and venting need to be considered.
• Consider installing automatic doors.
Simple guidelines can be just the thing to obtain a memorable snapshot of your laundry business, says Howard Scott, a columnist — such guidelines could point out patterns or problems that you might not ordinarily catch.
Gene Mueller has been offering drop-off service for about 21 years at his Lakeland Square Laundromat in Belleville, Ill., and he believes that customers should be able to see drop-off orders hanging from a rack. This is just one of Mueller’s theories about running a successful drop-off service.
Click here for Part 1 of this story!