“Call me crazy, but I like to see other people happy and succeeding. Life is a journey, not a competition.”

I read that quote years ago on a billboard somewhere, and it just resonated with me. So, when I became a CLA Board member, I knew my purpose was to help others succeed because it made me feel good – plain and simple.

But what really drives that feeling?

Enthusiasm, Passion and Energy

As the CLA chair for 2020, I’d like to start off the decade in the right direction and prove that enthusiasm, passion and energy are synonymous with success.

The last five years of my 32 years in this industry is when my own enthusiasm and passion ramped up. My early years were spent plodding along, going about routine tasks in, quite frankly, a boring industry. I’d visited so many laundromats and met so many store owners that I began to observe huge contrasts in habits and styles of operation, from bad to good to great.

The bad characteristics were so shockingly bad that it prompted me to start a crusade to bring awareness of these differences and to highlight the attributes of successful owners. Hence, the term “ZombieMat” was born. I’ve since been traveling the country talking to laundry owners, distributors and new investors about what success looks like in the laundromat business.

Let’s discuss four game-changing best practice factors to get us more connected with our businesses and the people we serve.

But first let’s define ZombieMats. These are old, rundown stores filled with inefficient, dilapidated equipment. They’re eyesores to the community and poor reflections of our industry. Often, their owners are dispassionate and disconnected from the day-to-day operation, with no sense of urgency or desire to change. It’s no wonder so many of us want to see them eradicated.

Now, let’s get “a checkup from the neck up” and get started:

Machinery and Technology: The equipment manufacturers have done a tremendous job with R&D. High-speed washers are the norm today, saving customers time spent in the laundry while also lowering utility costs for the operator. Larger-capacity machines offer more options for customers. Advances in payment options are driving store owners to move away from a total reliance on coins, while adding reliable record-keeping software. Are you investing in the best machinery and technology available?

Customer Service: Customer service is all about attitude and mindset. Laundries should be taken care of like any high-performing retail business – that means an excellent customer experience matters. Are you and your attendants enthusiastic and passionate when dealing with customers? Remember we all want to feel important. Attitude is a choice.

Networking: Surround yourself with great people. I wanted to be involved with the CLA to be around winners – and, trust me, they are! I may not be the smartest person in the room, but I do want to be in that room.

The CLA exists to help laundry owners connect with the resources they need to thrive, including building valuable connections. Events like your local CLA Connect LIVE meetings are a good starting point, as well as local vendor shows that take place throughout the year. You can meet other industry professionals and gain useful information to improve your business. If you’re serious about growing your business, you need to be at the Excellence in Laundry Conference this May in San Diego. And let’s not forget the Super Bowl of our industry – the Clean Show, to be held in Atlanta in 2021. These are events that showcase best practices and offer opportunities to network and learn. And there also are several online networking opportunities through the CLA.

Giving Back: As a laundromat owner, you’re sitting on a huge opportunity to make a difference. There is perhaps no other business as engrained within a community as a laundromat. Through the Laundry Literacy Coalition – a partnership between the LaundryCares Foundation and Too Small to Fail – we are creating awareness and interest from outside the industry. With LaundryCares’ Free Laundry and Literacy Days and the installation of Family Read, Play and Learn spaces across the country, laundromats are being positively recognized. Simply put, the LaundryCares initiative is the most transformative change I’ve experienced. It’s the reason my enthusiasm and passion for this industry has accelerated. Why not be a part of it?

Laundry owners now have a choice to take a better path and reenergize their businesses by adopting these best practices. If you choose to follow us, you have a fantastic group of people at the CLA who share your goals and have the resources to help you take your business to the next level.

OK, call me crazy, but I want you to succeed. And the industry needs you to. Join us!

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