And Five Other Useful Observations on Life and the Laundry Business

As I have mentioned before, I am continually intrigued by what thoughtful, introspective and accomplished individuals from all avenues of life have to say. As a result, I continue to collect their quotations and use them to enhance my life, as well as to enrich the activities surrounding my laundry business.

I’d like to share six new ones with you, in hopes that you also will apply these gems to your personal and professional life:

wishing-well.jpg“Dig your well before you’re thirsty.” (Chinese proverb)

In a nutshell, this implies bringing the future into perspective so that you can do something proactively about it now. This proverb can take a multiplicity of forms – from getting regular physical exams to doing preventative maintenance on your house to having an intelligent estate plan in effect.

It also can mean periodically doing preventative maintenance on your washers, dryers and bill changers – along with regularly cleaning the duct work from your dryers and your sewer line. Doing so will help to prevent that awful forehead slap from occurring because things “all of a sudden” went wrong.

Granted, most of us subscribe to the old phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And this typically kicks into your thinking automatically. However, I suggest you override this natural tendency in order to prevent unpleasant surprises. It will lead to a more peaceful life, because most anxiety is forward-focused, stemming from worrying about what can happen but having little control over it..

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” (Plato, Greek philosopher)

I’m certain I don’t have to tell you (so I will just remind you) that life often isn’t easy. Everyone you encounter through your laundry business – customers, employees and suppliers – are all fighting their own personal human battles. People tend to be private organisms, so they often don’t share their inner thoughts or discuss their personal problems, especially with those they don’t know very well.

To be human means to have problems. They can range from health concerns to financial issues, and virtually everything in between. These problems can impact people’s moods, attitude and views of the world; they also affect their day-to-day behavior, including how they act when at your laundry.

Here’s a tip: learn to put yourself second. This practice can be expressed in four words – be nice to everyone. By doing so, you will not only make other peoples’ lives better, but you also will see their reactions and that will make your life better. In addition, you will attract and keep more customers – because, although people may forget some of the various aspects of your laundry, they will never forget how you made them feel when they were there.

“Care more about the name on the front of your jersey than the name on the back.” (Herb Brooks, former head coach of the gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic hockey team)

This is a magnificent metaphor for owning a laundry (or any business, for that matter). The simplicity of this concept is elegant. The idea is to care more about how your customers view your business, while at the same time leaving your ego completely out of the picture.

I have noticed and been amazed by the fact that that truly great athletes often say their personal records mean nothing to them, in comparison to their teams winning. In fact, some of them honestly don’t even realize when they’ve broken records or reached other performance milestones until they’re told about it after the fact.

Learning to put your ego aside in the business world constitutes huge personal growth. It will enable you to deal much more effectively and harmoniously with customers, employees and others on whom you depend with regard to the running of your business. It also will make your business life much more stress-free and enjoyable.

“Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.” (John Prine, singer and songwriter)

This is another great metaphor, but this one refers to your laundry marketing and, specifically, your advertising messages.

Here’s the connection: if your advertising promises great things about your business but your laundry falls short of measuring up to it, you will be promoting a “broken radio,” and in time people will change the station and your laundry business will steadily decline. You will have shot yourself in the foot and that self-imposed wound may never heal.

Your job at a laundry owner and a marketer is to deliver more than promise. If you do so, you can reach heights you’ve never dreamed possible.

“Retail is detail.” (Jim Sinegal, Costco founder)

In the self-service laundry business, “detail” means appealing to and stimulating each customer’s five senses, which are sight, sound, smell, touch and taste.

Pop Quiz – How does your vended laundry look? Is the television or sound system too loud or soft? Is it too warm or too cold in your building? Does your laundry smell like it’s fresh and sparkling clean? Are your machines and folding tables cleaned regularly? Do you offer a wide assortment of ancillary products, such as snacks and drinks?

If you answered yes to these five questions, then you receive an “A” for demonstrating your clear understanding that retail truly is detail. Congratulations!

“Treat every customer like a regular.” (Lee Cockerell, business writer)

Have you ever walked into a restaurant you dine at regularly and have the staff or owner greet you by name? How does that make you feel? Well, the same phenomenon occurs in self-service laundries. Attendants (and owners, too) should get to know the regular customers and naturally greet them in a big, friendly manner each time they come in to do their laundry. This makes those customers feel valued and important.

However, the real key is to greet every customer like a regular, even if you don’t know his or her name. With first-time customers, offer a friendly and enthusiastic greeting, show them around, ask if they have questions, and in general be sure they are given the VIP treatment. Again, this applies to both you and your attendants. If new customers are treated in this manner, they not only will turn into regular customers themselves, but they’re also likely to tell others about the great experience at your store. Simple enough, right?

And there you have it… six practical and very cool observations on life from a diversified group of folks – and, at the same time, six simple strategies you can implement in your self-service laundry business today.

Give them a try. I promise they’ll work.

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