Originally posted – Sept issue/2012
Written By: Scott and Penny Williams
Laundry Owners Share How They’ve Grown Their Business in a Small, Tourist Community
Until recently, there was no laundromat in the town of Alton, N.H. If members of this 5,300-person community (15,000 during the tourist season of May through September) needed to use a coin laundry, they had to drive 15 miles to the nearest facility. When you factor in the cost of gas, this weekly chore became pretty expensive.
In May, we opened Speedy Wash N’ Go. Marketing has played a significant role in our store’s success. Just because you open your doors, doesn’t mean people will come.
Two months before the laundromat opened, we hung our exterior signage. This was our way of announcing to the community that a self-service was opening in town. Residents were extremely excited to have a laundromat available locally, and many from the tourist community told us the store would be a great addition to the area.
It’s important to promote services that differentiate your store from the competitors’ operations. While the nearest laundry is 15 miles away, for some it may be worth it to make the drive if the other facility is a top-notch store. This is especially true if customers are not aware of all the quality services your laundry offers.
Through printed and online literature, we promote that our state-of-the-art machines are made in the United State and offer large washing capacities of up to 60 pounds to accommodate any size load. Additionally, we publicize that the store offers convenient hours, 24-hour video surveillance so that everyone feels safe, free WiFi and is Energy Star compliant. Our multiple payment options – which include debit/credit card readers, preloaded payment cards and cash – are also attractive to customers.
The demand for laundry facilities peaks with tourism between Memorial Day and Labor Day. To attract tourists’ business, we have developed flyers that can be left in hotel and resort lobbies, as well as at camp grounds. We also run a weekly advertisement in the local newspaper.
In-house specials are important to our marketing efforts as well. At Speedy Wash N’ Go, we have created “Super Tuesdays,” which is when all of our machines are discounted by 50 cents. This has increased traffic through the store and has helped us create loyal customers.
In today’s world, many people choose to use their smartphones or the Internet to find the nearest coin laundry, which is why we also consider our website to be a major marketing tool. Not only can tourists find us, but we can also be discovered by residents of neighboring communities who are perhaps looking for a new or better laundry option. Through our site, we offer additional promotions, such as our point-of-sale card system. This promotion gives customers who preload their cards an additional 5 percent free.
Your marketing budget doesn’t have to be extravagant to get the job done right. In a rural community, it boils down to reaching your immediate demographic – and, from there, expanding into new territories to promote growth. You can start out by investing as little as 5 percent to10 percent of your monthly profits into a marketing program. As your store grows, you can evaluate profit margins and determine whether an increase is warranted.
Although coin laundries typically are very successful businesses, it’s important to remember that marketing plays a significant role in sustaining your existing customer base and increasing business. If you have any questions about what specific marketing initiatives you should be considering, talk to your distributor. After all, they’re experts in the business and in your particular marketplace, and will be able to provide you with workable, business-building ideas.
Scott and Penny Williams are the owners of Speedy Wash N’ Go in Alton, N.H., with a second location in Belmont, N.H. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.