How to Stay Wired to Successfully Deal with the COVID-19 Pandemic

Can I be completely honest with you?

I certainly don’t in any way mean to minimize the very real human toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacted. However, I’m finding this whole coronavirus mess to be a real irritation – and I suspect many of you are as well.

I can’t do anything I really want to do, and many of my plans have been put on hold for the time being. With that said, I was going through some of my old files the other day, and I came across a slip of paper on which I had scrawled: “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.”

No, I didn’t come up with that myself – a guy named Einstein did. Yeah, that Einstein.

I first heard that quotation during my senior year of high school in Miss Garruder’s class. And, apparently, I was sufficiently impressed with it at the time to have jotted it down, although I have to admit that I really didn’t believe it could possibly be true. I was just hoping that it might be.

At that time, every difficulty I got into resulted in nothing but bad news and even worse consequences for me. Plus, back then, I couldn’t truly appreciate the scope of exactly who this Einstein guy actually was anyway.

Now, a few years later, I believe I understand what the famed physicist actually meant – and I fully believe it to be true, as I’ve actually seen it occur more than once… right here in the laundromat business.

And those words were never more accurate than they are today, as we all find ourselves stuck in the middle of this global pandemic

First of all, it’s good for laundry owners that the industry has been designated as an “essential” service, as cleanliness no more than ever is nondiscretionary. This also is good news for the many people who work in laundromats because it means they have been able to maintain their jobs.

Another silver lining to this dreaded virus is that it provides laundry owners with the opportunity to reengineer their marketing and advertising messages to fit the situation. In other words, you now have two new and very different market segments – one are the customers who simply won’t enter your building and who are attracted to your wash-dry-fold service, while the other are customers who will enter your store with proper protection and assured cleanliness measures in place.

Extreme cleanliness, distancing and the use of protective masks are new ways of attracting customers. In addition, an increase in wash-dry-fold business should be a big part of your advertising focus for the foreseeable future.

Of course, there also are some tweaks to your advertising and management strategies, which you should implement immediately.

How about a large sign in your window advertising your drop-off laundry service at a slightly reduced price, with guaranteed turnaround times on all orders. And when these wash-dry-fold customers arrive, have them call a designated number so that a staff member can come outside and retrieve the laundry from the customers’ vehicles.

Many people, rightly so, are extremely health-obsessed these days and most likely won’t even want to enter your building. So, when their wash-dry-fold laundry is completed, text, call or email them to let them know. And, as with the drop-off process, have a staffer bring out the processed garments to the customers when they arrive. Of course, credit/debit card payment completes this contactless transaction.

Another popular management technique to limit the number of customers in your store at any one time. For instance, customer enter your laundromat, place their laundry in the washers, and then return to their vehicles until the wash cycle it complete. They would do the same for the dry cycle. When the items are dry, the visit to the laundry is over and folding can be done at home.

Of course, various forms of this “Wash-Dry-Go” method – depending on the size and type of facility – have been used successfully by store owners across the country. The main point is that customers are made to feel that you are doing all you can to accommodate them, as well as keep them safe.

This virus is very scary to a lot of people. I’ve recently spoken with a psychologist who complained that he’s getting burned out from talking with patients about this disease and from how afraid of it they are. In fact, he believed the stress was actually making him physically ill.

Since we can’t do much to control the virus, we need to do as much as we can to control our emotions until a vaccine is developed.

Here is what I would suggest…

Come to terms with the fact that, if you follow all of the prescribed precautions, you have done your job. You then can relax with the knowledge that you have done everything possible to protect yourself, your loved ones, your staff and your customers – and you should suffer no guilt. The situation is what it is.

You can control feelings of anxiety by understanding that these types of emotions result from forward thinking. As a result, try your best to live in the present moment, because in actuality you cannot predict the future, and predicting in your mind all the things that can occur will do nothing but make you extremely anxious.

If you are staying home, perhaps enroll in an online study program in a subject that has always interested you. After all, you can attend nearly any university at home through the many online offerings available today. This way, when this virus is eventually under control, you will be just that much smarter. Who knows? Your newfound knowledge may provide you with a brand new side occupation. Life can be very serendipitous that way.

Organize regular chats with your friends on Zoom or one of the several other similar platforms that have grown in popularity in the last few months. This way you all can stay in touch, which is truly important because social interaction is necessary for the human psyche.

Yes, this pandemic has been difficult on all of us, and we are all in it together. In this regard, the world is truly flat. Prior to this outbreak, we had the chance to be the hero of our personal and occupational life’s dramas. At the moment, we are quite limited in that ability, and it can be painful on a mental level for many of us.

Above all, do your best to not think about this situation to deeply and too often. I know that’s not easy, but to ease your nerves perhaps recite the following mantra to yourself every so often: “I’m not here, and this is not happening.” In other words, you will not enable the object on your mind to become a subject in your heart.

This too shall pass. Stay safe. We all need each other – no more than ever.

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