Running a successful laundromat takes more than simply cleaning clothes and providing stellar customer service. It requires an efficient, knowledgeable, and motivated team that understands their roles, executes them flawlessly, and takes pride in their work. The foundation for this camaraderie is built in the employee training process. If there are kinks in the chain early on, then inevitably you’ll run into issues down the road.
Daniel Logan, owner of Virginia-based laundry business Columbia Pike, said if someone isn't performing to the best of their ability, the root of the issue can usually be traced back to three key factors.
“The employee doesn’t know what they’re responsible for, they don’t know how to perform a job task, or they’re not motivated to do their job. That's where an effective training program comes in.”
As a laundromat owner like Daniel, you should prioritize implementing an effective training program as a critical step to keep your business running smoothly and profitably. By establishing clear expectations, fostering a positive work culture, and continuously improving your training strategies, you can set your staff—and your business—up for success. Keep reading to learn some of Daniel’s most tried-and-true training strategies that have kept his laundry business thriving.
4 key components of an effective laundromat training program
An efficient training program should cover garment care, customer service, technology use, and the significance of timeliness, honesty, professionalism, trust, and memory.
Additionally, the deeply personal nature of laundry should be conveyed to new hires. “Just as you can tell a lot about a person by their laundry, your staff's handling of a customer's laundry reflects on your business,” said Daniel. Thus, training them to handle each garment with care is essential to nurturing customer loyalty and trust.
The first step in building a successful training program is identifying its key components. This includes understanding the responsibilities associated with each role, how to perform the tasks, and why they are important.
Technical skills: Each employee should be well-versed in garment care. This involves knowing which clothing items are delicate, understanding when to use or avoid bleach, and what materials, like silk or leather, should not be treated with baking soda. Furthermore, they should be informed that mattress pads could melt in the dryer at high heat.
Customer service: Laundromat staff interact with customers directly. Hence, it's crucial to train them in customer service, such as how to handle customer requests, address issues, and maintain a friendly, professional demeanor.
Tech-savviness: The ability to navigate the business's technology—like the driver app—is vital. This includes taking and uploading photos and understanding its various features.
Professionalism: Emphasize the importance of timeliness, honesty, trust, and a good memory. This will not only improve their work performance but also strengthen the business's reputation.
Different types of training methods
Effective training isn't one-size-fits-all. Testing different methods and finding a balance between them can help you cater to diverse learning styles and increase the success of your training program. A communication app with training modules is a useful tool to provide easy access to resources and maintain open channels of communication. On-the-job training can also be highly beneficial. After a predetermined timeframe, the new hire should be ready to operate independently and confidently.
Different types of training methods cater to different learning styles, and combining them can make your training program more effective.
App-based training: A communication app with training modules allows you to provide information in a readily accessible format. This method enables staff to learn at their own pace and refer back to the information when necessary. Daniel uses this method as part of his robust training program.
”We have an app that we use to communicate with the staff, which also includes training modules. So, new hires can go and look up whatever they need to learn, like how to add delivery to a particular order, in just a few clicks.”
On-the-job training: Pairing new hires with experienced staff can provide real-time training. This method allows new employees to learn directly from their peers, ask questions, and gain hands-on experience.
Mentorship and growth: Encourage internal growth by offering advancement opportunities. This not only provides motivation for your staff but also ensures that your future managers and leaders have a comprehensive understanding of the business. Promoting from within fosters a sense of progress and can serve as an extra motivator.
How to keep employees engaged in the training process
Maintaining employee engagement during the training process can be a tough nut to crack, especially when the training material seems repetitive or tedious. However, making the extra effort to transform training into an enjoyable, competitive, and rewarding experience (for all employees, new and old) can greatly enhance engagement and retention. Below are some effective ways to gamify the training process and foster an environment of active participation:
1. Monthly challenges and competitions
One strategy to keep your team engaged is by introducing monthly challenges or competitions centered around their tasks and responsibilities. These could be in the form of a timed challenge where employees compete to finish a task accurately and in the least amount of time. For example, a 'Fastest Folder' competition can not only make training fun but also incentivize staff to improve their speed and efficiency.
Daniel has used this method at Columbia Pike with great success! He noticed that some of the orders coming in weren’t prepared and folded to the customers’ specifications. In an effort to encourage his employees to read the tickets more carefully, he held a ticket-reading challenge.
“Each employee had to take a picture of all the tickets they saw and upload them to our app and at the end of the month, the person with the most photos submitted won a $100 gift card.”
2. Interactive quizzes and trivia
Another engaging training method is using interactive quizzes and trivia. You could create quizzes about garment care, customer service, and your store’s software. Make the quizzes lively by using a variety of question types, such as multiple-choice, true or false, or fill-in-the-blanks. Quizzes not only test the knowledge of your staff but also reinforce the information they've learned.
3. Reward system
A reward system can further incentivize employees to participate actively in training. For instance, you could give points for each correct answer in the quiz or for winning a challenge. The employee with the most points at the end of the month could be rewarded with special recognition, a bonus, or a small prize. This kind of positive reinforcement can motivate employees to take an active interest in their learning.
4. Use of technology
Leverage technology to make training more accessible and enjoyable. A training app with gamified modules can allow staff to learn at their own pace, earn achievements, and even compete with each other. Such apps can track progress, offer personalized feedback, and provide resources for further learning.
Keep in mind, the goal is not just to make training enjoyable, but also to ensure that the staff is learning and retaining the necessary information. By implementing these techniques, you can create a training program that is engaging, effective, and fun, leading to improved performance and a more motivated team.
Common training mistakes and how to avoid them
On the journey to create the most effective training program, mistakes are inevitable. But by recognizing and learning from these missteps, you can significantly improve your training protocols and avoid common errors before they happen. Here are some training pitfalls and suggestions on how to avoid them:
1. Neglecting the importance of solid management practices
Neglecting the importance of clear management practices is a common oversight in many laundromat training programs. This can lead to confusion about roles and responsibilities, resulting in inefficiencies, and subsequently, poor customer service.
To avoid this, clearly outline each role and its associated responsibilities from the jump. Use written job descriptions, checklists, and standard operating procedures to clarify what is expected from each position. Like David, you should also regularly review your own operating procedures and edit as needed.
“Every week we have our managers' meeting where we talk about all the events, issues, and mishaps that occurred. We figure out, how did this happen and why did it happen? We determine if it was a system failure or if an employee wasn’t following the system and we address the issue from there.”
2. Insufficient hands-on training
Sometimes, laundromat operators may rely too heavily on written or verbal instructions without providing sufficient practical, hands-on experience. This approach may lead to gaps in knowledge and misunderstandings about how to perform certain tasks.
To overcome this, incorporate ample hands-on training into your program. Real-world practice, guided by experienced team members, can reinforce learning and help new hires gain confidence and competence.
3. Lack of continuous training
Training shouldn't be a one-time event but rather an ongoing process. Neglecting to provide continuous training can lead to staff forgetting certain procedures, resulting in inconsistent service.
Combat this by implementing regular refresher courses and updates whenever there are changes in equipment, technology, or procedures. This will keep your team up-to-date and reinforce important information.
4. Ignoring individual learning styles
Everyone has a unique way of learning, and a one-size-fits-all approach to training might leave some employees behind. This can lead to slower progress among some employees as well as frustration.
Try to incorporate various teaching methods into your training program, such as visual aids, written materials, demonstrations, hands-on learning, and interactive activities. This variety can cater to different employees and have a major impact on the effectiveness of your training.
5. Not seeking feedback
Sometimes, managers overlook the importance of seeking feedback on the training program. This omission means you might miss out on valuable insights that could help improve your training.
Establish channels for your employees to provide feedback on the training process. Regularly survey your staff to understand what's working and what areas need improvement. Their front-line experience can provide invaluable insights to refine your training program.
By avoiding these common training mistakes, you can create a comprehensive and effective training program that caters to the needs of your staff and your laundromat business. Remember, the goal of training is to build a competent and confident team capable of delivering exceptional service to your customers.
How to make your employees feel valued (and earn their buy-in!)
In the bustling environment of a laundromat, it's easy to lose sight of the importance of making each team member feel valued and essential. Remember, your employees are the heart of your laundromat, and investing in their growth is investing in the success of your business. An engaged and motivated team can significantly enhance the quality of service, customer satisfaction, and the long-term future of your business. Here's how you can make your employees feel valued:
1. Adopt an inverted triangle leadership model
In the traditional hierarchical model, leaders are at the top, and employees are at the bottom. Consider adopting an inverted triangle model, where leaders are at the bottom supporting and lifting those above them. This approach signifies that the role of leaders is to serve their team, provide guidance, and remove obstacles, thus fostering a supportive work environment.
2. Foster open communication
A culture of open communication helps make employees feel respected. Daniel always prioritizes this in his approach to running his laundry business.
“It’s important to make your employees feel heard. If they have an issue, a concern, or an idea of how we can do things better, it’s an open door.”
Daniel urged that you should encourage employees to openly share without fear of backlash. Regularly hold team meetings to discuss ongoing projects, challenges, and improvements. This transparent environment strengthens trust between you and your staff, enhancing their sense of value and job satisfaction.
3. Implement a 'Best Idea Wins' policy
Empower your employees by implementing a 'best idea wins' policy. Encourage everyone to voice their ideas and suggestions, regardless of their role in the company. This approach promotes innovation and can lead to improved processes and customer service. When an idea is implemented, recognize and celebrate the employee who proposed it. This acknowledgment boosts confidence and cultivates a sense of ownership and pride in their work.
4. Provide opportunities for professional growth
Providing opportunities for learning and advancement shows your employees that you value their professional growth. This could involve offering additional training to help them acquire new skills or providing a clear pathway for career advancement within your business.
“We try our best to always promote from with. We believe it’s better to hire for the bottom roles, which is folding, and allow them to grow into higher roles.”
Such initiatives not only improve employee skills but also demonstrate your commitment to their career development, thus enhancing their loyalty and dedication to your company.
5. Regularly express appreciation
Finally, one of the simplest yet most powerful ways to make your employees feel valued is by expressing appreciation for their work. This could be a simple thank-you, a note of recognition, or a small token of appreciation. Regularly recognizing and appreciating your employees' efforts can significantly boost their morale and motivation.
Making your employees feel valued and empowered is key to earning their buy-in. A team that feels respected and invested in your vision is more likely to go the extra mile in providing excellent service. By focusing on these areas, you can transform your training program and overall workplace culture into a powerful tool that boosts your business, satisfies customers, and empowers your employees!
Transform your laundromat training program
Building an effective laundromat training program involves more than just imparting technical knowledge and operational skills. It calls for a nuanced understanding of various learning styles, ongoing engagement techniques, and the avoidance of common pitfalls. It also requires the establishment of a workplace culture that values, respects, and nurtures every team member.
When your employees thrive, so too does your business. Hence, transforming your laundromat training program isn't just about fostering employee growth, it's about securing the long-term success and sustainability of your business.