Here is a great article by our friend Jay McDonald from Alliance Laundry Systems. The original is in this month’s edition of American Coin Op.
Seasonal Changes Bring New Customer Opportunities (Part 1)
RIPON, Wis. — As the final leaves drop from the trees and the first frost appears, how should Laundromat owners adapt operations for the upcoming season? Each different time of year brings new opportunities for a Laundromat’s success, but the trick to maintaining a constant flow of customers is to change with the seasons.
SCALING DOWN AFTER SUMMER
During the summer, some owners adapt their hours to accommodate an influx of tourists. Because of the increase in customers, many Laundromats require additional staff during this time. Start adapting to seasonal changes by scaling back on increased staff during what might be considered an “off-season.”
Clark Sowers owns three Laundromats in South Dakota, including East Main Laundry and Dry Cleaning in Sturgis. That location must accommodate a large influx of tourists from May through August for events such as the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which typically doubles the population of South Dakota during its run.
“During the off season, we return to normal operation, in that our staffing hours are reduced,” Sowers explains. “This staff reduction may mean that an individual’s workload increases, as they may be the only person on staff at one Laundromat.”
While scaling back staffing and hours after the summer traffic is gone, it is important to be mindful of the possible influx that may accompany the fall.
“I tend to evaluate my coin laundry business in thirds, rather than the yearly quarters,” says Sowers. “January through April includes the final semester of college and the end of winter; May through August are the summer tourist months; and September through December covers the start of school, hunting season, and the holidays.”
In the fall, store owners can consider transitioning marketing efforts to target new groups of potential customers. For example, hunting season starts as early as August for bow hunters, with additional seasons extending through January. Due to the soil level and bulkiness of the clothes they wear for this sport, hunters may be reluctant to wash camping gear and hunting clothes in their home machines.
To increase their traffic, store owners can promote the fact that the larger washer-extractors available in their Laundromats can help hunters complete their loads more efficiently than they could at home. Owners could even go as far as offering a free cycle to hunters who have successfully bagged a lot of game.
The winter holiday season also brings Sowers an increase in tourists.
“We have several customers who manage rental properties that do business with us; some drop off their bedding and some use the Laundromat themselves.”