CHICAGO — We definitely hit a hot button. In a recent Wire survey, we asked laundry operators to weigh in on some of the more popular industry “theories.” We hear them all the time. You know what I’m talking about, those tried-and-true business absolutes; the things a coin laundry operator can base his management plans on... well, something like that.
That survey drew a huge response, quite possibly the largest response we’ve ever had. The respondents not only commented on the seven theories we presented, but they were encouraged to list their favorite laundry myths. We would like to share some of those myths with you.
A REFRESHER COURSE
Before we list the new myths, let’s take a brief look back at the theories we presented in the survey.
• Will top loaders be phased out in the next year or two?
The top loader foes are usually quick to point out that these machines will be gone in no time. Most don’t agree. Nearly two-thirds of respondents don’t see this happening, while 24% believe the machines are soon to be gone. Twelve percent are not sure.
• Are video games worth the trouble?
Some believe any extra revenue generated by video/arcade games is offset by the fact that the games will attract non-laundry customers. Thirty percent are against using video games. Fifty-eight percent favor having games, and 12% are undecided.
• Are 24-hour stores a bad idea?
One would think this depends on the location. Most agree. Sixty-two percent don’t think 24-hour stores are a bad idea. Thirty percent don’t want any part of being open all day, and 8% aren’t sure about the hours.
• Will a well-kept laundry reduce your chances of vandalism?
Eighty-five percent of respondents say “yes.” Only 12% don’t see a connection between the store condition and vandalism.
• If customers have too many amenities at your store, is there a chance they may stay around after their wash and take up space?
Fifty-six percent don’t believe a nicer laundry will keep people around longer than necessary. Thirty-two percent believe a nicer store may cause some customers to hang around. Twelve percent are undecided.
• Is word-of-mouth advertising the best form of laundry advertising?
While it would be hard to find someone who doesn’t like people touting their store, some believe that word-of-mouth advertising takes care of all one’s marketing needs. Three out of four respondents believe word-of-mouth advertising is the best form of advertising. Twenty percent disagree, and 5% are not sure.
• Do people notice (and complain about) any type of dryer price change/reduction of minutes more so than a comparable washer price change?
We’ve heard it on many occasions: “Don’t mess with the dryers! Change the washer prices instead.” Is there some truth to this, or does any change anger customers? It’s somewhat of a split decision. Forty-nine percent believe customers are more sensitive about dryer changes. Thirty-five percent don’t think so, and 16% are undecided.
LOADS OF MONEY
The respondents certainly weren’t shy when it came to submitting their favorite laundry myths.
How many times have you heard how easy it is to run a store, and how the money just rolls in? Here is just a sampling of the financial- and operational-related myths:
• “You can make a fortune and never do anything owning a laundry.”
• “You get rich owning a laundry and all you do is collect money.”
• “Owning a laundry takes only a few hours each week.”
• “Owners running Laundromats are getting rich.”
• “Laundry owners are making piles of money.”
THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT
It wouldn’t be right to mention myths and not have some customer-related myths. Here are some of the examples:
• “The customers are very sensitive to price increases.”
• “No one will ever steal the toilet paper out of the bathroom and the pictures off the wall.”
• “Customers go to the closest laundry.”
• “The laundry customer knows how to wash clothes.”
• “All of your customers know all the vend prices of all the coin laundries in their market areas.”
• “If you lower prices, you’ll get more customers in the store.”
ODDS AND ENDS
It seems like respondents had a myth for almost any laundry-related subject.
Here are some myths that deal with the industry’s image:
• “Coin laundries are for poor people.”
• “Laundries are outdated and past their peak in usefullness.”
• “All laundries are dirty and have a lot of out-of-order signs.”
• “Laundromats are dark, dirty and nasty.”
• “The Laundromat environment attracts undesirable clients.”
Some respondents listed myths about the actual laundry process:
• “Wash all of your white clothes in hot water.”
• “Big loads require big amounts of soap.”
• “The more soap the better.”
• “High-extract G-force washers save drying time for our customers.”
No such list would be complete if the respondents didn’t touch on themselves. The final myths:
• “You shouldn’t clean a laundry because people just mess it up again.”
• “Price is the biggest factor in attracting customers.”
• “You cannot draw customers living in single-family homes.”
• “Your neighborhood can absorb the capacity of another store.” (A distributor talking to an owner.)
• “Laundry owners turn the gas down on dryers so they don’t get as hot and it takes more money to dry.”
• “If you are cheaper, you can make it up in volume.”
If any of these myths inspire you, please list your favorite myth in the comment section.