My family ran Laundromats in Ohio and acquired their first laundry in 1988, the year I was born, so my siblings and I we grew up you know spending our evenings and weekends there. My main memory was trying to find quarters in between the bulkheads to spend on candy and toys! We grew up loving the atmosphere at the store. When we moved to Florida my family always thought about opening a store here, but were busy with other ventures. Upon college graduation, I started working for a landscape architecture firm, which I absolutely loved, but after having my first child found it hard balancing the time. I felt the time was right to do something for myself, and spoke to my Dad about opening up a Laundromat in North Orlando. We'd looked at some sites together, and then started working on the build out of it whilst I was still in my other job. Then one day out of the blue he sent me a picture outside the store to say it was officially open! When you were planning out the store, what was really important to you? The most important thing though was to have a nice open space that enabled people to move freely around the stores. A lot of laundromats just put way too much equipment in there, and when it gets busy people are on top of each other. Keeping everything light and clean gives the store a very natural feel. Also, as we were getting new equipment, we knew it would be much more advanced and efficient than our competition. So that immediately helped us stand out from the crowd.
Firstly, getting our name out into the community so we spent a lot of time hitting the streets, and going to local events. We found that word-of-mouth was by far the best way to attract new customers. Secondly, it was finding the right staff. We wanted to make sure we had employees who really understood the business and their responsibilities, It was also really important for us to make sure we could keep them happy. It took some time, and a lot of hard work, but within a few months we noticed good traction. The community really needed a good laundromat and were very glad we arrived. We have some people who will drive up to an hour, passing 10 laundromats on the way, just to come here! That's because we're clean, work hard on offering the best service, and also make sure to accommodate everyone's needs, such as accepting credit card and cash. Something that makes me feel really proud is that our employees regularly have customers complimenting the store on how clean it is. When I hear them, I know we must be doing it right.
We were operating the store using carbon copy invoices which meant it took a lot of time to check people in, and we also often found mistakes on the tickets. It was just too many processes for employees to handle, and not the best customer experience. We knew we needed to transition into a computer based POS solution. I quickly drew up a list of 8 providers, and was able to narrow that down to 3 by going over the main Pros and Cons. Once I was down to 3 options, the first thing I considered was, not only what does the software do right now, but also what it could do in the future. What I really liked about CleanCloud was that, since I already had a computer in the store, I had everything needed to get started. The other providers wanted us to buy a new hardware package for the software to run, which would have added significant costs. I also loved the fact that there was the potential to add on the Pickup & Delivery feature at a later date, rather than pay for a feature I didn't immediately need. The software looked fit for purpose. Once CleanCloud became my first choice, I spent some time talking to other people in the industry and other laundromat owners. I kept narrowing down my questions asking things like: How difficult is it to use? Will my staff, who are not tech savvy, pick it up quickly? What are the advantages to the customer?
Well I have one member of staff who has never even turned on a computer before! I decided to test out training her up on CleanCloud, and she found it very easy to work through. Also, as we train people it's easy to spot and rectify issues. The customers absolutely love the Text and Email feature to notify them their order has finished, and also the choice to pay by cash or card. Overall it was really easy to take what we already had and put it in to your system. We spent one week of running the software alongside still using carbon copy tickets, then after that put everything in to CleanCloud, and it was a seamless transition.
In terms of bottom line, we've increased our revenues by over 110% (i.e. more than double) in the first 15 months of using CleanCloud. It's easy for customers coming in, they just state their name and the staff from the notes what that customer expects in terms of wash and preferences. Customers can be in and out in 2-3 mins. Then they automatically get notified when the order is ready to be picked up, our operation feels very streamlined. We can handle more customers and the system presents itself more professionally than a paper ticket. The metric side is also fantastic, we can track previous orders and offer promotions to customers. We're also about to start doing more work with apartment complexes and higher end residential areas, and I know we can manage it by using CleanCloud.
When researching for a POS system, make sure to reach to other businesses and ask what they are doing. I looked for stores that had a strong presence online, and had a modern look. It was from speaking to one of them, Spin Laundry Lounge, that really helped steer my focus on what would be best for my store. With regards to CleanCloud, it's not a big investment upfront and if doesn't work there is no long term contract locking you in. I'd recommend to anyone over other options out there, no matter what services they are offering.