By Greg Fuhrman | Jul 10, 2009
For every self-service laundry, there are two distinct groups to which your marketing should be targeted – current customers and everyone else.
First, let’s talk about your store’s current patrons. It is significantly easier to market to those who are already taking advantage of your laundry’s services than to potential customers. When I’m at my stores, I speak with every customer in there. I am consistently requesting feedback on their wash and dry experience, the machines, the store’s cleanliness and amenities, and the performance of our attendants.
In addition, there are two crucial questions I always ask of every customer:
1. Is there anything you would change about the store?
2. How did you hear about us?
The first question makes them feel that they have input into the laundry’s future. You will always learn something new about your business from a customer. The second query is by far the most important question you can ask a customer, because the answer will enable you to track which of your different marketing and advertising efforts are paying off with direct, tangible results.
There are reasons that people have chosen your self-service laundry over your competitor’s store; speaking to them is the sole way to find out why. Once you have a customer consensus as to why people prefer your store, it’s your responsibility to spread the word to…
I have spent a lot of money on marketing to new customers, primarily because none of my competitors have lifted a finger to advertise beyond the Yellow Pages. The months of work (and, trust me, it will take months) you do to reach a consensus on what differentiates your laundry from the competition will dictate your “angle” when advertising.
For example, I have two laundries in Fort Collins, Colo. One is located on the north side of town and the other is on the south side of town, near Colorado State University. The store to the north is the closest location to those living in the neighboring town, in the mountains and the nearby farms and horse stables. For that location, I advertise our washers (“Largest Washers in Fort Collins!”) as able to wash horse blankets – I put a picture of a horse in the ad that I placed in the bi-weekly newspaper that covers that part of the city.
The result? An instant jump in business. The ad costs me $80 per month, and after the first run, I attracted a customer who washes horse blankets for other horse owners. In fact, she drops $50 into my washers on a weekly basis just to wash horse blankets.
Of course, a new marketing strategy or advertisement won’t always pay off this quickly – but it feels damn good when it does.
There are a million ways to market your self-service laundry, from keychain/bottlecap openers emblazoned with the name of your laundry to advertisements in the local newspaper. However, it’s not the amount of money you spend or the cleverness of your ads. What really matters is finding out why customers come to your laundry – and then exploiting that knowledge to your maximum benefit.