The Laundry Doctor Shares His Plan of Attack During the COVID-19 Outbreak
What we’re all going through right now with the COVID-19 pandemic is truly a once-in-a-lifetime event. It’s a test of who we are as people – and what we are as a civilization.
As laundry owners, what can we do to make a difference in other people’s lives during these uncertain times, and how can we make sure that we all come out of this unprecedented ordeal better and stronger?
At The Laundry Doctor, our primary focus during the first few weeks of this outbreak was to identify opportunities where we could be of service to others and make a difference in our community.
Our first initiative was to keep our staff as close to 100 percent employed as possible. Most laundromat attendants are not highly paid workers, so they’re typically going to be those without savings or a financial buffer to help get them through difficult times. Therefore, our first mission was to make sure that the high-quality individuals we have and who bring value to our business weren’t going to be placed in a position where they were at risk, or even felt like they were at risk.
We were fortunate in that we got our request in for an SBA Paycheck Protection Program loan right away. We were awarded a grant from the federal government, and we’re committed to utilizing those funds to keep our employees working and to provide free services to the community that has always supported us.
Our first line of defense was to find tasks for our employees to do and to get as much work done as we could, in addition to what we were already doing. Of course, a slowdown occurred almost immediately after most businesses were told to shut down. The hospitality industry specifically took a major downturn.
So, we tried to be creative. Our first thought was to take care of the seniors who live in our neighborhood. We know that seniors may be more susceptible to catching this virus than others within the population and that they really shouldn’t be going out. If there was any way possible that we could limit their need to go out in public, we needed to try to do our part. So, four days after the shelter-in-place guidelines were mandated in our area, we reached out to those who needed some help. Fortunately, most of the seniors in our community already had solutions for their laundry needs, but for those who didn’t, we offered free pickup and delivery.
The second group of people we wanted to serve during this time were our local police officers. We reached out to the St. Paul Police Department and became a laundry vendor for them – basically, cleaning and sanitizing uniforms that had undergone some type of exposure.
With that said, we have the benefit of an ozone sanitizing system at our facility, which gives us the unique ability to do that type of cleaning. However, similar laundry sanitizing can be achieved without ozone, if you have the ability at your store to inject low-temperature industrial chemicals, such as the ones hospitals frequently use.
The next group we targeted were those really on the front lines of this battle, those who are truly stressed out and working overly hard right now – our health care workers. By now, we’ve all heard the stories of nurses and doctors who are isolating themselves from the rest of their families just in case they’ve been exposed, because they don’t want to bring the virus home. So, we wanted to help.
We put out the word that we wanted to be of assistance, with regard to some form of hospital laundry. For instance, at one local hospital, the nurses had been taking home their laundry to do it themselves – and we immediately stepped in and said that we’d love to handle that for them for free.
In addition, we recently reached out to four other hospitals in St. Paul – one of which is dedicated specifically to handling COVID-19 cases – and offered anyone on the medical staff free wash-dry-fold laundry for themselves and their families so that they can focus on what’s important at the moment. They’re taking care of us, so we wanted to do what we could to take care of them.
Staying Safe and Making a Difference
First and foremost, before you can help those in your community, you need to keep your staff members safe and healthy. At The Laundry Doctor, we’ve always been sensitive about how we handle items to be cleaned. Beyond that, we’re staying up to date on the very latest CDC guidelines and instructions for battling and halting the spread of this virus.
For example, one of the major CDC recommendations to come out about this virus and that we’re now strongly advising our employees never to do is shaking out the laundry before washing. Of course, we’re also using personal protective gear, and we’ve added a hand sanitization station to our facility – with employees required to wash their hands every 20 minutes. In addition, we’ve designated only certain employees to handle pre-sanitized laundry loads in order to minimize the risk to our staff, while still trying to provide as much service to the neighborhood as possible.
Right now is a great opportunity to truly and genuinely connect with your community and to let your customers know how much you care about them. No matter what you do during these historic and unsettling times, if your main intention is to take care of your customers and those within your neighborhood, it will pay off for your laundry business exponentially in the long run.
No doubt, what’s occurring today will have lasting changes on society. At the end of the day, health care is going to see changes, and society as a whole will benefit. From what I see, the end result of this current crisis will be some amazing advancements – in health care, as well as other technologies that will move our society forward.
I’m quite positive that – once we’ve successfully tackled this COVID-19 virus – the world will be a better place for all.