By Wally Makowsky | Apr 21, 2009
For many laundry owners, their stores’ services go beyond the basic self-service aspect of the business – from residential wash-dry-fold drop-off services to more elaborate commercial accounts requiring pickup and delivery. Here are a few ways to price your store’s laundry services.
One of your options is per piece. You should definitely charge a per-piece price on the commercial segment of the business. You can charge a certain fee for a towel, a certain fee for a tablecloth and so on. For instance, towels typically range anywhere from 25 cents apiece, for basic wash towels, to $1.50, for larger towels.
However, if you are planning to establish a piece-price system, understand that it’s more difficult to put such a system into effect for normal, everyday clothing; it’s generally more applicable to the commercial- and institutional-type business. There are laundry owners who are doing just that very successfully, especially with hotel, motel and nursing home accounts.
Of course, handling pieces requires a different type of marking and tagging, because you have to know who’s piece belongs to whom. You certainly don’t want any lost items.
When charging a per-piece price, I also recommend purchasing some finishing equipment. On the commercial and institutional level, clients are looking for some kind of finishing for the sheets, table napkins and so on. So if you’re thinking of going in that direction, you will need some additional space in your laundry to install an ironer and a hot-head steam press.
Another area where per-piece pricing can be implemented – even if you’re doing your wash-dry-fold on a per-pound basis – are home comforters and bed coverings, sleeping bags, down-filled ski jackets and so on. They’re generally bulky and require much more work and larger-capacity machines. Those should always be piece-priced, not pound-priced.
In addition, look at the type of drop-off laundry you’re receiving, as well as the type of drop-off business you’re going after, and then establish what items should be charged per piece and what should be charged per pound.
If you store is located in a more affluent area, you may have a number of drop-off laundry customers to whom you can charge per-piece prices. However, like commercial clients, these customers generally will be expecting some sort of finishing services, too.
The advantage of a per-piece price is that you get paid fairly for the additional work that you are expected to do. By contrast, per-pound pricing is the simplest to handle and the easiest to calculate.
The worst pricing system is load pricing – charging a certain amount per load. After all, what is the definition of a “load?” Is it a 50-pound bag? Is it a five-pound bag? If you have a set price on a 10-pound bag, what do you do when someone brings in 13 pounds? It’s not an effective way to handle drop-off pricing.
All in all, a two-price system (per-piece and per-pound) will work the best for most laundry owners, because some items and garments require much more handling, as well as more wash and dry time. In addition, a “split system” is generally advantageous because most laundries handle more than one type of drop-off laundry.