By Jeff Gardner | Jan 10, 2011
Consistency is the one thing that will get your wash-dry-fold customers to not only trust you, but also return on a regular basis – consistency in your training, consistency in your laundering, consistency in your folding, and consistency in the final presentation.
What’s more, consistency will give you more control over your attendants and will help eliminate customers requesting that specific attendants do their laundry: “Oh, I must have Mary Sue do my laundry because she’s the only one I trust.”
That’s great, but what happens if you lose Mary Sue? You lose the business.
Furthermore, you run the risk of Mary Sue actually running a “side business” of her own within your laundromat. This can be a big problem with some wash-dry-fold services.
However, by developing a solid plan and training program, along with a practice of delivering consistent wash-dry-fold products to your customers, you can eliminate these potential issues.
The first thing I always recommend is using the training tools that the CLA provides. It’s the first place to start when developing a consistent training program.
The next step is to develop your own training program customized to your specific business. At my laundry, my manager, Darlene, trains all of the employees the exact way she does things, which are the exact way in which I trained her. (Again, it’s all about consistency.)
I usually let my employees spend about two days with my manager, and then I’ll spend a day, following up with questions. It’s a three-day process, where I work with new attendants on our process and then follow up with them on that process with a few hours of questions and actually watching them do their work.
I’ve learned that most people retain only about 50 percent of what you tell them the first time. So you need to go back and reemphasize it. We’ll re-train with a half-day “refresher” a week later, and then do the same thing with the entire program a month later. We will watch all of the training DVDs and go back over the training manual with them.
Consistent Folding and Packaging
It’s important for me to spot-check orders every time I come in. I’ll do a visual spot-check of how the presentation of the order looks.
For instance, larger items like jeans and towels are going to be on the bottom of the laundry basket, while shirts with the collars and T-shirts will be on top – all lined up neatly and facing the customer.
When we fold the garments, we fold them to they will look consistent in size. We do this for two reasons. First, when the customer is putting the garments away, we want them to fit neatly into their dresser drawers. But we also want to provide that consistent, finished-product appearance. When our wash-dry-fold customers see the product, it should look like the garments are brand new – every time.
When you go to a retail clothing store, you’ll notice that everything is folded the exact same way and to the exact same size. We try to mimic that feeling, because, ultimately, we’re trying to make the customer feel like he or she has received brand new garments again. Our philosophy has always been to deliver the garments that exact way that they looked when the customer purchased them.
And you can achieve that only by following a plan of how you want everything folded. It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you train your attendants, and they all do it the same way.
Set the Stage
The final emphasis on consistency should be on how the finished product looks in your staging area. How you stage it for your customers – the presentation – is crucial.
When a new customer comes in to drop off clothes, if you don’t have presentable finished products in the staging area, you are planting a seed in that customer’s mind that you’re disorganized and could possibly lose her clothes. That’s a failure I’ve noticed consistently with small operators of wash-dry-fold services; they simply don’t have a consistent way to control their orders.
Always keep it organized. I’m a stickler for always having the customer’s information on the front of the order, organized on stainless steel or chrome racks, not strewn all over the place.
Every tag is facing outward so that the attendant can quickly find an order and get it back out. The last thing a customer wants is to stand there, waiting while your employees try to figure out where the garments are. In fact, when we see a regular customer coming in, we have their laundry already up on the counter waiting for them.
Of course, everything is packaged in clear plastic and completely visible to the customers.
Having an organized system instills a higher level of confidence in your customers (and potential customers). Think about our sister industry, the drycleaning business. If you walk into a successful drycleaner, you’ll see computers, conveyors, racks, tracking systems, etc. It’s all to let their customers know: “Hey, these are your valued garments, and we’re going to treat them with the utmost care.”
The coin laundry business needs to develop that same attitude.
Of course, having consistent policies for how you sort and then actually clean the wash-dry-fold garments is probably the most important thing you need to establish.