Guest blogger, Brian Slizgi, operator of Lucy’s Laundromat Anaheim in California discusses how laundry owners can stay competitive in the face of pressure from tech-enabled laundry providers.
Increasingly, local cleaners are experiencing competitive pressures from technology-enabled start-ups offering the “tech generation” a more mobile and efficient laundry option. FlyCleaners, Wash.io, and Rinse are just a few examples of tech companies competing with and in some cases, eroding business from local cleaners. These companies have the added advantage of operating without a physical store, by leveraging trucks that pick up customer’s laundry that they then outsource cleaning to 3rd parties. This model has allowed these start-ups to reduce overhead while bringing “virtual storefronts” to their customers.
As a laundromat owner and an experienced business consultant, the topic of competition has been something I’ve focused on as part of my laundromat in Anaheim, CA. As part of this blog post, I’d like to share some insights on strategies I’ve leveraged to improve my business and stave off competition from these startups in my neighborhood.
Here are 3 key strategies for increasing your competitiveness in a tech-enabled laundry industry
- Build Online Presence – building your Yelp and Google Business profile are table stakes – the question is “how do you build a positive reputation in the marketplace?” Solicit feedback from customers and ask them to support you through reviews. Build a website, it’s almost free. Customers search online for cleaners when they move to a new neighborhood. Offer bonuses for people that check in on Facebook or Yelp – these small bonuses go a long way.
- Think Digital – if you were a customer, what amenities would you want? Free WiFi in your store? Think about how you can use technology to better interact with customers and make it easier for them to communicate with you and vice-versa. What about specials or bonuses? What if your website had an overview of the amenities so that customers get to know your offering? This all makes a difference.
- Think Personal – customer acquisition is by far more costly than customer retention. How do you retain customers? Get to know them! Whether your store is attended, giving it a personal touch or you have an app that sits on your customers’ phones reminding them of your presence (by the way, a great way to push specials / reminders to customers). What type of analytics can you leverage? The most powerful part of a card-based store is your ability to collect, analyze, and leverage customer data sets – can you send your highest spending customers who haven’t visited the store in 2+ months a coupon?
The Laundry industry is evolving quickly as new technologies and new competitors enter the market. With a little preparation and some basic business improvement techniques, any cleaner can keep pace with their customers’ needs.