ADDISON, Ill. — Super-size it. Would you like peppers? Would you like to add cheese?
This is a common concept adopted by restaurants nationwide. Although the phrasing may differ, “upselling” is a familiar concept to American consumers. Most restaurants offer a good product without the extras, but eateries and other businesses have found that consumers like being given the option to make their own choices about the type of product or service they want. This in no way means the original product or service is inadequate without the add-ons.
What does this mean for our industry? Let’s take a look.
Although there have been many Laundromat innovations in recent years, the two most valuable, in my opinion, were:
The ability to offer additional service options on vended washers and dryers.
The ability to offer an alternative payment method such as card systems and its effect on the industry.
I would like to focus on these and explain how they tie together.
UPSELLING IN THE LAUNDROMAT
Several years ago, washer manufacturers introduced the ability to offer additional services to customers for additional vend price. Long before that, they offered the ability to sell hot and cold washes for a different cost. Competitors that did not have these sophisticated machines kept their prices low, ultimately reversing customers’ perceptions of the new pricing structure. Today, we have the ability to offer a quality wash, and customers who feel they will benefit from an extra wash or extra rinse will pay more for what they perceive is a superior wash result. This is upselling with no pressure on the customer to pay more money unless he or she chooses to add services.
This is a powerful tool to increase volume. For many years, we in the industry have been trying to figure out how to increase our revenue by giving customers choices they want, which increases revenue without the perception of increased pricing. I will show what this means in dollars and cents when we talk about the card systems.
Most manufacturers have an ability to offer these options, but each does it in a slightly different way. Additional service options have to be made easy to understand and easy to use, but this doesn’t mean you provide less service and make it up in add-ons. We have to learn from industries that are successful in marketing upselling options. We need to offer good results at a fair price, plus the ability to let our customers decide if they want to spend more. It’s their choice.
CYCLE OPTIONS + CARD SYSTEMS = MORE REVENUE
Another way to add choices into the Laundromat is by utilizing a card system. These systems, which began as an alternative to accepting coins, have been available for many years. They have come a long way. Card systems are used today by owners who want to operate their businesses with all the advantages that most retail businesses offer. I’m going to touch on a few of these advantages, but this is really just a small representation of the benefits of managing a card-operated laundry.
First, card systems build loyalty. Once a customer uses a card and leaves a balance on it, they will more often than not come back to your Laundromat. The ability to accept credit cards and to use penny incremental pricing helps keep your vend prices in line with your utility costs. There are a variety of marketing programs available to help increase your volume. Coupon programs give laundry owners the ability to offer rewards directly to the customer without an attendant and without fear of coupon fraud.
Card systems can also provide the ability to account for revenue and employee hours. Reports are available that reflect business revenue totals, individual usage, customer information, income by the hour, equipment usage, and average money spent per visit. This is just a small sample of the information that is available.
I have been able to gather reporting to solidify the value of the extra-wash and extra-rinse options. My family owns and operates three laundries with equipment that has these add-ons available. The stores are located in different geographic areas and have differing ethnic demographics. A report from one of our stores shows equipment usage over a five-month period.
The numbers focus on extra-wash/extra-rinse usage and what it means in terms of additional revenue.
The 80-pound washers processed 4,112 loads, of which 1,498—or about 36% of the total number of loads—used an “extra” button. At a 50-cent upcharge per load, an additional $749 was collected from the six machines.
The 30-pound washers processed 13,180 loads, of which 2,908—or about 22% of the total number of loads—used an “extra” button. At a 35-cent upcharge per load, an additional $1,017 was collected from the 16 washers.
The 40-pound washers processed 10,999 loads, of which 2,859—or about 25% of the total number of loads—used an “extra” button. At a 40-cent upcharge per load, an additional $1,143 was collected from the 14 machines.
The 20-pound washers processed 11,877 loads, of which 2,662—or about 22% of the total number of loads—used an “extra” button. At a 30-cent upcharge per load, an additional $798 was collected from the 12 washers.
That adds up to $3,707 in additional revenue for this store in five months. Extrapolate that to a year and the added revenue comes to $8,899. The numbers speak for themselves, and that’s on top of the normal vend prices! Keep in mind that these were customer choices; they made them of their own free will. That’s upselling.
In my experience, that kind of additional revenue (80%) goes to the bottom line. Without a card system, our stores would not have the tools to properly evaluate those numbers and help make any future equipment purchases.
Talk to your distributor about the options that are available. Evaluate this information to see if these innovations will work within your budget. In today’s business climate, any advantage that will help a business grow must be seriously considered.
I have heard many excuses for not moving forward with new innovations. The list would be so long, it would take another article to cover them all. The reality is, without these advantages, your business may struggle. Your choice.