I own three vended laundries, and I’m quite concerned about the $15 per hour minimum wage that’s being talked about more and more these days. I have three or four employees at each of my locations, and I’m paying those attendants $10 per hour. I don’t know how I would be able to pay that increased wage, as well as the taxes. What would you suggest I do?

If and when a $15 minimum wage becomes a reality in your market, you definitely have some options to combat this increase in your labor costs.

You can:

  • Raise the vend prices on your self-service laundry equipment.
  • Grow your business through a more aggressive marketing approach, including becoming an essential part of your community.
  • Grow your business by developing a full-service segment to your laundromats.
  • Shorten your stores’ and/or employees’ hours.
  • Eliminate some of your employees.

I’m definitely not in favor of those last two options.

Instead, I would focus on the top three suggestions. Don’t be afraid to raise your vend prices to where they need to be – and then be sure to post signage in all of your laundromats explaining the reason for the increase in your vend pricing.

Next, if you’re not already offering wash-dry-fold, commercial accounts, drop-off drycleaning or pickup/deliver services, it’s time to strongly consider some or all of these options. These full-service offerings will help you attract new customers and grow your business.

Lastly, don’t forget to get the word out and to promote your laundry operation. Beyond traditional advertising, simply giving back to the communities that support your stores is a great way to get people talking and feeling good about your business. The Coin Laundry Association’s LaundryCares Foundation can help you develop this part of your business plan – either through holding free laundry events or by adding childhood literacy and learning activities at your stores.

I’m in the process of buying new dryers for my laundromat, and I’ve been looking at the new reversible type of machines. What are your opinions on these dryers? What advantages do they offer and how do they improve the drying cycle?

I think buying reversible dryers for your laundry business is a great idea. These types of dryers definitely improve the quality of the dry. The reversing action eliminates the twisting and tangling of the items, which can occur when the dryer drum turns in just one direction. As a result, the garments will come out of the dryers softer and fluffier.

Another main advantage is the fact that reversible dryers can do the job more quickly due to improved air and heat movement in between the items being dried, which is what removes that moisture. As a result, you can move more customers through your store more quickly.

One more big benefit of reversible dryers is that you’re not very likely to find them in homes or apartment complexes – and those are two of your laundromat operation’s largest and toughest competitors. The reversible dryers will help to differentiate your business from that competition.

My laundromat is very clean and well-kept. However, I’m having a problem with customers smoking in my store, even though I have posted “No Smoking” signs. I don’t want to lose their business. Do you have any suggestions?

You can install benches outside your laundromat and designate this area as being specifically for your smoking customers. Of course, also be sure to instruct your attendants to suggest to customers who wish to smoke that they use your new outdoor smoking section – and to do so tactfully, without offending those customers. This should solve your problem.

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