As a laundromat owner, you’re probably always wondering how to improve your laundry business and find new ways to grow. Do you ever stop and consider your growth and success not only hinge on attracting new customers but on retaining existing ones? There’s more power in customer retention than meets the eye. By directing your energy toward understanding certain metrics, leveraging modern tools, and keeping abreast of ever-changing consumer needs, you can unlock that power and channel the strength of your existing customer base.
This isn’t just a growth strategy; it’s essential to your laundromat’s survival. With the rising competition in the industry, an already large 35,000-store national market, keeping customers coming back is more important than ever. In this post we'll unpack the vital metrics to track, introduce the transformative power of customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and provide actionable insights to lead you to your laundromat's potential. Whether you've been in the laundry game for a decade or are only beginning to consider investing in a new laundry-themed venture, there's something in here to boost your customer retention.
The cost of customer churn
Customer retention is not just about keeping your regulars happy; it's about understanding the devastating impact that unchecked customer churn can have on your laundromat business.
What is customer churn in a laundromat?
Customer churn, or simply 'churn', represents the percentage of your customers who stop using your laundromat services during a defined period. For example, if you had 100 regular customers at the start of the month and only 90 by the end, your monthly churn rate would be 10%. This is a simple yet important metric that keeps its finger on the pulse of the health of your business. In the laundromat industry, where word-of-mouth and community reputation are major drivers (or roadblocks) to success, a high churn rate can indicate deeper issues like subpar services, faulty machines, or unreasonable pricing.
New customers vs. retained customers
Numerous studies across industries consistently highlight that acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one. The laundromat industry, with its local and community-driven nature, is particularly susceptible to this fact. Let’s break it down:
- Acquiring new customers: This entails marketing costs (advertisements, promotions, or even local events), initial discounts or offers to get them through the door, and the time and resources spent to introduce and familiarize them with your services. On top of that costly lift, new customers are more price-sensitive and less likely to purchase additional services until trust is established. Though it's not the main focus in this blog, here's some ways to attract more customers for your laundromat.
- Retaining existing customers: The monetary investment here is comparatively less. You've already covered the initial onboarding costs. What's left is the maintenance cost, which includes consistently delivering great service, implementing a loyalty program, and proactively addressing any concerns or feedback. The beauty of retained customers is that they are more likely to try out new services, provide constructive feedback, and refer friends and family to your laundromat.
While attracting new faces to your laundromat is important, the real gold lies in nurturing and retaining the customers you already have. By understanding and mitigating customer churn, you're not only setting yourself up for a stable revenue stream but also fostering a loyal customer base that will vouch for your services in the community. It’s like growing your very own brand ambassadors!
Laundromat customer retention metrics
With access to immeasurable volumes of customer data, relying wholly on your intuition alone is a gamble. Instead, integrating data-driven decision-making can revolutionize your retention strategies, giving you a clear roadmap to foster loyalty and enhance revenue.
You can turn customer retention into a science by monitoring key metrics and utilizing data-driven insights. These differ for each business, but there are 3 main metrics to track for laundromat owners. This will grant you confidence in making business decisions that affect customer loyalty and ultimately grow revenue.
Track key metrics : Repeat visits, Average spend per visit, Customer Lifetime Value
Measure the frequency of customer visits to your laundromat over a specific period. A higher repeat visit rate indicates that your customers find value in your services and are likely to return.
How to calculate Repeat visits:
- Choose a time period: Decide on the specific time period for which you want to calculate repeat visits. It could be a week, a month, a quarter, or any other suitable interval.
- Gather data: Count the number of unique customers who visited your laundromat during the chosen time period. A unique customer is someone who visited at least once within the timeframe, regardless of how many times they came.
- Count repeat visits: Determine the total number of visits made by all customers during the same time period.
- Calculate repeat visits: Divide the total number of visits by the number of unique customers. The resulting figure represents the average number of repeat visits per customer within the specified time frame.
Repeat Visits = Total Visits / Number of Unique Customers
Example: During a month, your laundromat had a total of 600 visits made by 300 unique customers. To calculate repeat visits, divide 600 visits by 300 unique customers, yielding an average of 2 repeat visits per customer in that month.
Average spend per visit
Keep an eye on the average amount customers spend during each visit. An increase in average spend signifies that customers are willing to spend more on additional services, indicating higher satisfaction and loyalty.
How to calculate Average spend per visit:
- Gather data: Record the total revenue generated from laundry services and any additional offerings (e.g., vending machines, refreshments) over a specific period (e.g., a month).
- Count visits: Determine the total number of customer visits during the same period. Count each visit separately, even if it’s from the same customer on different occasions.
- Calculate Average spend per visit: Divide the total revenue by the number of visits. The resulting figure represents the average amount customers spend per visit.
Average Spend per Visit = Total Revenue / Number of Visits
Example: If your laundromat generated $5,000 in total revenue and had 250 customer visits in a month, the average spend per visit would be $20 ($5,000 / 250 = $20).
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
Calculate the average revenue generated by a customer throughout their entire relationship with your laundromat. Understanding CLV helps you assess the long-term value of retaining a customer and guides your marketing and retention efforts accordingly.
How to calculate Customer Lifetime Value (CLV):
To calculate the Customer Lifetime Value, you need to consider three main factors:
- Average purchase value: Calculate the average amount a customer spends per visit, as determined in the previous step (Average Spend per Visit).
- Purchase frequency: Determine how often customers make purchases within a specific period. For instance, if customers visit on average twice a month, the purchase frequency is 2 visits per month.
- Customer lifespan: Estimate the average length of time a customer remains loyal to your laundromat. For example, if the average customer relationship lasts for 3 years, the customer lifespan is 36 months (3 years x 12 months).
Calculate Average Customer Value:
Multiply the Average Purchase Value by the Purchase Frequency.
Average Customer Value = Average Purchase Value x Purchase Frequency
Example: If the Average Purchase Value is $20 and the Purchase Frequency is 2 visits per month, the Average Customer Value is $40 ($20 x 2 = $40).
Calculate Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Multiply the average customer value by the customer lifespan.
Customer Lifetime Value = Average Customer Value x Customer Lifespan
Example: If the Average Customer Value is $40 and the Customer Lifespan is 36 months, the Customer Lifetime Value is $1,440 ($40 x 36 = $1,440).
Implementing a laundromat loyalty program
Loyalty programs have long been a cornerstone of customer retention strategies, but with the advent of technology, they've received a significant upgrade. By introducing digital cards or apps, you can seamlessly track customer visits, ensuring a personalized experience for each patron. Coupled with attractive incentives for regular visits, such digital-first loyalty programs become a potent tool in ensuring that customers keep coming back to your laundromat.
Conducting customer surveys
To truly understand and cater to your customers, it's crucial to know demographics and personal preferences. By conducting regular surveys, you can gauge their satisfaction levels, uncovering the strengths and weaknesses of your laundromat services. The feedback garnered provides invaluable insights, allowing you to identify and address areas of improvement, ensuring an ever-evolving and top-notch customer experience.
Monitor online reviews
Online reviews have become the new word-of-mouth, influencing potential customers and reflecting your laundromat's reputation. Actively monitoring these reviews offers a dual advantage: it gives you an unfiltered view of customer feedback, while also presenting an opportunity to respond promptly and rectify concerns. Moreover, by encouraging your satisfied patrons to share their positive experiences, you can bolster your online presence and foster trust among prospective customers.
Strategies to boost customer retention
A well-thought-out laundromat business plan incorporates a variety of effective strategies to foster loyal customers. For a full breakdown, view our guide on boosting loyalty in your laundromat. Use these battle-tested tips and you’ll have a holistic customer retention strategy to bolster the strength of your business for many years to come:
Maintaining clean facilities
Prioritize cleanliness. Consider hiring a dedicated staff member whose primary role is to maintain the facility's cleanliness throughout the day. Use clear signage to encourage patrons to clean up after themselves and consider conducting periodic deep cleaning to keep the premises spotless.
To appeal to your target customers for laundry services, think beyond the machines. Set up a corner with a coffee machine offering complimentary beverages. Invest in comfortable seating, ensuring there's a space for customers to relax or work. Adding a Wi-Fi connection and placing a few charging stations can also create a conducive environment for people to stay longer and enjoy their waiting time.
Offer seasonal discounts or promotions
Capitalize on the seasons. For instance, during the rainy or snowy season, offer discounts on heavy garments like jackets or blankets. Or during the holiday season, introduce a festive discount to attract families prepping for the holiday gatherings.
Introduce package deals. Consider offering a full-service bundle, where for a set price, a customer can get washing, drying, and folding. Deals like these can be particularly appealing to busy folks looking for a hassle-free laundry experience.
Invest in high-quality machines
Upgrade your machines periodically to keep up with market demands. Look into investing in models that are energy-efficient and provide faster results. Market these upgrades in-store and in promotional materials to let customers know about the enhanced service quality they'll get.
Use card or app-based payments
You may be in a century-old business but that doesn’t mean you have to continue dealing in coins. Partner with a tech provider to introduce a payment app or card system for your machines. This makes the payment process totally fool-proof for your customers. Systems like these often come with added benefits like loyalty programs, which can be customized to offer rewards, further enticing customers to return.
Organizing events or community drives
Use the laundromat space for community gatherings. Host themed nights, such as "Family Fridays," where families can enjoy discounted rates. Or consider organizing charitable events, like a monthly clothing drive, where customers can donate gently used clothes to be given to local shelters post-cleaning.
Collaborating with local businesses
Build local partnerships. Reach out to nearby cafes, bookstores, or gyms to create mutual promotion deals. For example, a laundromat customer might get a discount voucher for the café next door and a café patron could receive a discount token for their next laundry visit.
To wrap it up, driving customer retention is a blend of offering an unparalleled experience, exchanging value for money, staying updated with technological advances, and nurturing a community-centric approach. By implementing these strategies, laundromat owners can set their establishments apart, creating customers that keep coming back.
Using feedback to improve customer satisfaction
Even in a world governed by numbers, customer feedback is your most reliable compass. You can run the numbers all day, but until you get feedback directly from the horse’s mouth, you won’t have the full picture. Customer feedback provides actionable insights, helps in enhancing service quality, and ensures that the offerings are in line with the evolving needs of the clientele. Iterating based on feedback isn't just about appeasing customers but about crafting a tailored and memorable experience that keeps them coming back.
Harnessing feedback for improvements
If a significant number of your patrons are suggesting that the coin method isn’t cutting it, consider this as an indication of changing customer behaviors. In today's card-based systems, ease of transaction is not just a preference; it’s an expectation. Incorporating card payments, mobile transactions, or even setting up a loyalty app could make the process seamless and appeal to your modern clientele.
Environmental consciousness is on the rise. If customers voice concerns about water usage or the types of detergents used, it might be worth considering high-efficiency machines or partnering with eco-friendly detergent suppliers. An eco-conscious approach can appeal to a broader customer base and position your laundromat as a responsible and forward-thinking business.
Enhancing in-store experience:
Feedback about waiting times or the in-store environment can be a goldmine of useful information. If customers feel that the waiting area could be more comfortable, consider adding amenities such as free Wi-Fi, a coffee machine, or even a small bookshelf. These additions can transform the mundane task of waiting for laundry into a pleasant experience.
Iterating based on feedback not only addresses immediate concerns but also demonstrates a commitment to excellence. Laundromats that actively engage with and act on feedback are more likely to build a loyal customer base, establishing a strong foothold in a competitive market.
In the laundromat industry, customer retention stands out as a pivotal component for enduring success.
As we've explored, customer churn metrics, the cost-effectiveness of retaining customers over acquiring new ones, and the profound impact of feedback shape the foundation for fostering loyalty. By utilizing modern technological solutions, continually improving based on direct customer input, and embracing strategies that prioritize user experience and community engagement, laundromat owners can construct a resilient business model.
As the industry continues to evolve, being adaptable, proactive, and deeply attuned to customers' needs and preferences will be the driving force behind thriving laundromats. The road to success is paved with an unwavering commitment to delivering unparalleled service. Want an even deeper look into some of the top customer loyalty strategies that drive lasting laundromat success?
Read the full guide on How to Boost Customer Loyalty in Your Laundromat.