Setting Up a Washing, Drying, and Folding Space (Part 1)
CHICAGO – For self-service laundry that also offers dry-cleaning (WDF) through delivery and/or pick-up and delivery, when attendants are processing orders at the same time as self-service customers are trying to do their laundry, there is always a risk of conflict, especially If both groups are competing for the same washers and dryers.
Dedicating an area (or, as you’ll read, time slots) to WDF processing will help keep self-service laundry customers happy and separate revenue streams flowing freely. Of course, laundromats can vary in service needs, shop size and layout, so what one business may easily accomplish may simply not come to another.
American currency Op He interviewed the owners of three different laundry businesses, in three different parts of the country, to find out how they approached the concept of a dedicated WDF space.
The Queen City Laundry has four stores on Cincinnati’s East Side that offer self-service laundry, laundry and dry cleaning, laundry service and delivery. Dave and Carla Means are the owners.
“We have space dedicated to WDF but no dedicated equipment,” says Dave Menz. “I would describe us as a hybrid type, so we don’t have the stereotypical OPL equipment. We use our machines in the shop, but other than washing and drying, we have a completely separate area during daylight hours, when our shop is open to the public, where we actually…fold and pack the laundry.” “
Queen City’s workforce includes a general manager, two key assistants, four store managers, third-shift pick-up and delivery supervisors, as well as attendants and drivers. All together, the number of employees is about 40.
Menz’s WDF operation started small 10 years ago and it didn’t take long for him to realize that meddling with his self-service customer base would be a mistake.
“Almost immediately, we set up what we call the drop-off room. It’s just an employee’s room. Some might refer to it as an office, but in some of our facilities, it’s several hundred square feet. In one, it’s several thousand square feet.”
Other than its 9,000-square-foot superstore, each Queen City Laundry has a roughly 20′ by 12′ room where drop-offs are processed and dry-cleaning orders stored.
“We wash them in the washing machines, and we dry them in the dryers,” says Means. “We immediately pull it out and lay it flat on top of carts and roll it up in the back room or take it (physically) in the back room and fold it up and wrap it up there.”
The superstore uses this basic process but also uses a second-shift staff of three who only handle WDF orders. All receiving and delivery orders are forwarded to the facility.
“They’re only allowed to use about a third of our store to wash and dry,” says Means. “We immediately drag them back into the separate processing facility. There in the back, they have all the shelves and fold-out tables. They have plenty of work space, shelving, and whatever they might need to complete the order.”
A third shift staff of seven to nine people (varies by size) handles the remaining WDF work once the store is closed to the public.
Queen City Laundry extensively trains attendants and handlers on how to process WDF requests without interfering with self-service customers. They’ve been taught to use only the washers in the back of the store, for example, or the bottom pockets of stack dryers, because self-catering customers tend not to use them.
“There’s definitely an art to it, for sure,” says Means. And it’s not really as complicated as it sounds. I mean, it’s a lot of, like, common sense. If your primary focus is, ‘I want to do everything I can to avoid building a separate facility and paying rent,’ it’s… How can we do that without objecting? our customer’s way.”
Check back Thursday for Part 2