COVID-19 — Where Do Laundromats Go From Here?
When Coronavirus became top of mind for everyone in March 2020, many of us thought it would last a few weeks or a couple of months tops. After a year-and-a-half of societal disruption, with still so many unknowns, how should laundromats move forward? What trends have emerged that laundromat owners should be taking notice of? We’ve put together a few thoughts, ideas, and trends that can help laundromats move forward and see the best success.
1. Laundromats remain essential businesses
We’ve always known laundry was “essential,” it just took a pandemic for everyone else to realize it too.
When the pandemic first started, the Coin Laundry Association and others in the laundry industry pushed hard to lobby and educate lawmakers and everyone regarding the importance of laundromats and other laundry businesses, especially during a pandemic. Thankfully those efforts paid off and those of us in the laundry industry are continuing to push forward while many other industries struggle.
The impact of COVID-19 is still fresh in everyone's minds. Even though laundromats are considered essential, your customers, fellow business people, and lawmakers still need to be educated about the importance of the services laundromats provide. You can help by hosting educational opportunities, such as webinars and social media posts, and working with local media to answer ongoing questions regarding safety, sanitation, and the service your laundromat continues to provide to the community.
Consider sharing this great public service announcement from the Coin Laundry Association (CLA)...
2. Alternative Payment Systems
We’ve always touted the benefits of card and mobile payment systems for laundromats, offering alternative payment options at your laundromat is more important than ever. Here’s why…
- There’s been a coin shortage amid this pandemic, which has caused problems for more than 60% of us in the laundry industry. Offering alternatives — such as smartphone apps like customer app or the SpyderWash Credit Card Payment System — minimizes hassle for you and your customers during this time and may ultimately result in more business.
- Even more importantly, cashless payment systems naturally minimize contact, making them safer and easier to use while COVID-19 was raging in our communities. They allow customers and employees to do more virtually or with a quick swipe, which limits the amount of time in-store, person-to-person contact, and the number of times people touch the machines themselves. They also reduce the germs spread via multiple people touching cash and coins.
We’ve definitely seen a rise in alternative payment systems since last year. If you’ve been considering adding debit/credit card or app-based payment options to your laundromat but haven’t moved forward yet, there’s never been a better or more prudent time.
3. Wash, Dry, Go
Today’s consumers are doing their best to limit their time spent in public places and minimize contact with others. With that in mind, wash-dry-fold services and pick-up and delivery options are great additions for laundromats.
Expanding these options is a smart business move for a number of reasons.
- First, it minimizes contact and time in store, keeping your laundry attendants and customers safer.
- It is also another way to generate business and build long-term customer relationships during a time when people may be hesitant or unable to visit in-person.
- Expanding or adding these services may allow you to hire additional staff or avoid layoffs or furloughs for current employees during difficult times when unemployment is high.
- Many businesses continue to offer curbside pickup, delivery, and other contactless options. With this trend and change in consumer behavior, it’s almost expected.
Overall, adding or expanding these minimal contact services can serve you well as we continue to emerge from the uncertainty of this pandemic. Plus, they’re convenient services that will continue to work in your business model after long after COVID-19 ceases to be a threat.
4. New locations & improved rates
Due to the pandemic, many businesses closed down or transitioned to a remote operation. That means that there are vacancies for potentially prime laundromat locations.
- Use this to branch out or open a new location if it works within your long-term business strategy. Before moving forward, check out our tips for picking an ideal laundromat location.
- If you rent your laundromat space, consider renegotiating rental and leasing agreements with your property manager for better deals.
5. Commercial Laundry Equipment & Layout Updates
Another thing you might want to take a look at as your business moves forward is your existing equipment and laundromat layout. Are you meeting the needs of the times? Let’s take a look at some of the current trends and feedback we’re seeing across the laundry industry.
- People are visiting the laundromats less frequently as they try to minimize contact with others. Rather than visiting once a week to do smaller loads, they may now be visiting once every two weeks or once a month with large loads of laundry. With that in mind, bigger capacity machines are a popular and useful option right now.
- People want to get in and out of the laundromat quickly. Upgraded, advanced commercial laundry equipment from top brands are more efficient and have higher g-force, which means people complete their laundry quicker and minimize risk. Upgraded technology, like wash alerts sent to your smartphone, also allows people to monitor their loads while being socially distanced.
- New, efficient equipment and technology provide increased revenue opportunities and keeps utility expenses low, which puts your business in a good spot to combat any potential impact from increases in taxes, fuel costs, and a down economy in general.
- People want to keep a safe distance while doing their laundry. That means you may need to rethink your laundromat design and layout to give people optimal space to avoid interaction. More distance between machines, seating, and drying tables is all helpful. Providing plenty of aisle space and a natural flow throughout your laundromat allows people to naturally move about and complete their laundry without risking more contact than necessary.
Work with Martin-Ray Laundry Systems
Whatever your needs are during this season of change and uncertainty, Martin-Ray is here. We’re a leading commercial laundry equipment distributor throughout Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, west Texas, and western Nebraska. On top of that, we provide other services, including ongoing business support, maintenance, and more to keep you running smoothly during this pandemic and beyond.