With 2018 officially underway, it seems like a good time to take a look at the year ahead. What can those of us in the laundry industry expect, and what are our customers looking for? There’s no doubt that the commercial laundry industry has changed dramatically the last few years – and that’s going to continue in 2018 and beyond. Today’s consumers are craving opportunities and experiences, so the laundromat facilities that can go above and beyond are going to be in good shape. We’re sharing some of the laundry industry trends we love – and that we expect to see more of moving forward.
Going Beyond Laundry
The big trend that’s taking hold of the coin laundry industry is simply going beyond laundry. Is your laundromat fulfilling the needs of your customers’ needs? What additional services and opportunities can you provide? Remember, it’s all about the customer and the overall experience.
“We definitely are seeing that consumers are willing to pay more for an ‘experience,’ versus a transaction. This is especially true among millennials. To meet this expectation, more store owners are challenging industry norms.”
– Coin Laundry Association
For some laundromats, this could be as simple as a remodel, decorating or a splash of paint. Take this Ohio laundromat, which partnered with a non-profit and artist to create an attention-grabbing “Clean” mural – one of 15 in the United States according to the Akron Beacon Journal. An interesting mural, display, or attraction can help create “Instagrammable moments,” especially with your younger laundry patrons who love to take selfies and share experiences on social media.
Other laundromats continue to add additional amenities that make doing laundry less of a chore and more convenient for their customers, from additional attendants to a complete wash-dry-fold and drop off services. Laundromat cafés, bars, and other unique hybrid combinations, have also continued popping up, like this Chicago laundromat-doughnut shop.
Depending on your customer base and location, these facilities make sense, as the additional amenities can help draw new customers in and entice current customers to stay longer and spend more. Brian Wallace, president and CEO of the Coin Laundry Association, told Chicago Magazine that these laundromat hangouts are nothing new, but noted that the trend has “ebbed and flowed,” never fully catching on with investors as they focus on their core business of laundry.
Laundromats are no doubt closely linked to the communities they operate in. That’s why it makes sense that they would play an active role in bettering their neighborhoods and helping the people that they serve. It seems the laundry industry is starting to pay even more attention to giving over the last decade, with things like Tide’s Loads of Hope, Whirlpool’s Care Counts, the LaundryCares Foundation, and plenty more. Now even privately-owned laundry businesses are starting to find creative ways to better their community.
As wildfires, hurricanes, and other natural disaster rattled areas of the U.S. and Puerto Rico during 2017 and more than 550,000 people are homeless in the United States, laundry business owners all over have stepped up with creative and helpful solutions. Things like free laundry events, mobile laundromats, and discount days are seemingly more common – and making a big impact.
"To have clean clothes and clean underwear and clean socks you feel like a person again."
– Alan Steckle
While some of these charities and events have been around for quite a few years, it’s crucial that those in the industry – big and small – continue to find creative and innovative ways to give back to their communities and help those in need. Besides improving the bottom line for your business by positive word of mouth and community buzz, giving back allows you to go beyond washing and drying clothes to make a real change in the world.
When it comes to making life easier for your customers and yourself, technology is the way to go. From lower utility costs to increased efficiency to improved customer satisfaction, more and more laundromat investors are seeing the benefits of improving technology at their facilities.
With constant improvements in technology, laundry investors should always be looking into upgrading their commercial washers and dryers. Besides being more energy-efficient and reliable, things like state-of-the-art Galaxy Controls from Huebsch, cardless payment systems, and larger machines can make all the difference for your customers and your bottom line.
As it is with almost any business, smartphones and social media will continue to be more important and change the way the laundry industry operates as we move forward. Integrating apps, mobile-friendly websites, online advertising, and other online tools are becoming more common as laundromats work to attract and connect with their customer base.
What trends are you seeing?
If you’ve been in the laundry game for a while, what trends are you seeing? How are things changing? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.