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Episode 30 – Cloud Based Phone System

Cloud Based Phone System

 

          A number of years ago when I was opening my business I wanted to get a phone number that I could have some control over. As I was opening Laundromats and wanted to a) Project a professional business image and b) have a number I could post in the store for customers to contact me about any concerns.

          I did not want to post my cell phone number for a couple of reasons.

     #1 was to maintain some control and privacy.

     #2 was to be able to send the call to my cell, another phone or even another business location.

     #3 Create a local presence wherever I want to do business. Get a local phone number.

          I did some searching and found RingCentral.

          It l provided all of the features I needed, and many more.

         One advantage was the option to purchase a vanity number. I was able to get a 1-800 number that allows calls to and from the service anywhere in Canada or the US as part of the plan. With friends, family and business contacts still in Canada this was a great feature. Also if I am in Canada I can pick up a phone at anyone’s house and return a call or check on my businesses.

          I have set my phone up with a number of extensions, although in some cases more than one number goes to my cell phone I am able to make changes if I am headed out of town.

          Callers have the option of talking to an attendant on one of the stores, contact someone in case of an equipment emergency (power outage, water leak etc), or request a refund.
The Refund line explains about the drop boxes at the stores and how they can use any piece of paper if there are no forms available. The information required is Name, Address, Phone, Problem, Machine Number and amount of Refund. It will also direct them to the website so they can sub,it it through a Google Form.

          And last but not least is my extension. People calling me from an email or business card can hit my extension right away but being at the end has reduced the number of calls from people that just want to go into detail about a problem even though they may have already moved their items to another machine.

 

Check it out Here and I hope it will work for you as well

Ken

A Stubborn Drain Clog

 A Stubborn Drain Clog

       One of my stores has a section added to the back for the water heater, storage room and restroom.

    This was added years ago when the Laundromat was reduced in size from the original layout. The restroom was in the part that was converted to a Video Rental store (yeah, that long ago).

 

       As a result it seems they put the new floor over the sewer clean out so it makes it a little difficult to clean. The biggest issue through is that the P-Traps are under the concrete in each bulkhead and that’s where all of the change and other items like to accumulate.

Coins and debris in the drain pipes

       Sometimes the water jet manages to push them down to the manhole at the end of the strip mall but other times it can’t seem to get them out.

        That was the case we had here where 2 weeks after it was jetted we started having problems again.  When the jet didn’t seem to do it they brought in the camera where we could see some coins still sitting in the bottom. 

      The next step was the pump truck to really clean it out.

 

Once they got everything cleaned out they ran the camera through again to take a look. 

 

       As part of your maintenance schedule you should consider adding drain cleaning. First thing is to work with a plumber to understand how your system is set up, where the clean outs and P-traps are so that if you have a problem you can explain it to whoever shows up and they don’t have to spend an hour finding the access points.

      Once you know where these points are you can use a wet/dry vac to do some regular maintenance and avoid a backup.

 

Now on to the next project.

Ken

Episode 29 – Facebook Reach up 627,000%

Facebook Reach up 627,000%

 

Facebook Weekly Total Reach Up 627,300%

 

Is it really possible?

Yes, and here’s the stats to prove it…..

 

How is it possible to get this kind of impact to your Facebook Page?

      Help people solve problems.

It’s the same in the business world.

      For Example, let’s say you were a small business or an individual that wants to build your online exposure to increase sales of your products.

      The products could be a service you offer, a product in your store or even an MLM product.

 

What is the best way to get the exposure you need?

Blogging.

      Take a few minutes each day to solve a problem for someone and share it through Social Media.

      Your content may be shared so others can have their problems solved and Google will direct people to your post when they are looking for an answer to their problem.

      As you build up your tips others will look around and see you as an authority and will trust your opinion.

      So you’re probably saying ‘Give me an example”.

      OK. Let’s say that I own a Laundromat, no that’s an easy one…

      I’m a plumber.

      I have a cell phone with a camera and I get a call to unplug a sink drain. I take a few minutes to record the steps with a video and load it to my blog with the title. “How to unplug a sink drain in Littleville, US”.

      Others in town with the same problem do a search and find out how to unplug the drain themselves.

      Now you are probably thinking that you lost a customer because they did the work themselves.

      That’s not the thinking that grows a business.

      Next time this potential customer has a plumbing issue  they will look to your site for the information. If it seems too complicated or outside their comfort zone they will call you.

      Why?

      Because they already know you!

 

You can get started today on the same system I use for $25 a month. Right Here

Now how did a get a Facebook Weekly Total Reach increase of 627,300%.

Helping People…..

Read the details here

 

Ken

Episode 28 – The Coin Box Problem

The Coin Box Problem

 

Previously I posted about this topic and my plans. See The Post Here

      The large capacity washers I have I my Laundromat are $6 per cycle. They are the largest machines in the City I am located in o they get a lot of use. The store only has two of this size machine so keeping them running is critical.

      Due to the demand and some original design issues the coin boxes are filling up between collections. In some cases the coins have backed up into the coin drop mechanism and prevented more coins from being inserted.

  How do you think a customer feels that has loaded their clothes and detergents into a washer, inserted $5 in quarters and can’t get any more to go in?

There are a few options to solve this issue:
1- CREDIT / DEBIT card acceptance at the washer or through a Loyalty card or Kiosk payment. While there are a number of benefits to this there are some other considerations.
Cost: Initial installation costs for any of these methods is high for a small store and usually 10 machines is the minimum required for a system to be installed.
Customer Acceptance: In my market very few of my Self Serve customers use credit or debit cards and have no interest in loading money onto a Loyalty / Laundry Card.
Customer Usage: The time required to convert customers to use a card, if they switch at all, may not eliminate the issue on busy weekends.

2- DOLLAR COINS OR TOKENS: I have made some changes in another of my Laundromats to a Dollar Coin on one machine, my attendants use them when needed on that machine and provide change to customers whenever possible. I will also be switching other machines soon.
In the Laundromat I am having problems in there is no attendant. I have 1 dual hopper changer that has quarters on both sides. Switching one side to $1 coins may cause more weekend trips due to a jammed machine. Adding an additional single changer is an option but not at this time.

 3- MORE COIN CAPACITY: Due to the construction of the machine there are restrictions. I originally looked at removing the internal part of the coin box and having a chute that the coins would drop through into a safe in the base, similar to a vacuum at a car wash, the coins actually end up in a safe near the ground in the concrete base. It would be more of a hassle to empty the machine but the capacity could be a couple of weeks.
This method would not work due to the location of the drain valve and piping.

Installing a larger coin box was possible but only if the box length was changed. The manufacturer did not make a longer coin box so I modified what I had to do the job.

      The first step is to make a bigger box.

      Next is to make the changes to the machine so the box will fit and work correctly.

      As you will see in the videos there are a few issues that need to be addressed and it took some time to get all the parts together and make the changes. The first machine took about an hour to get the work completed. The second one took about 15 minutes.

The videos show some of the steps and items to watch for.

      Hint: Knock the rivets off from the inside of the coin box cover before you do anything else. There are a few that are exposed inside the machine and can be drilled out but a few need to be removed from the inside and is easiest with the box still supported by the back cover.

      Each machine type will have some differences and may require some changes to this method but my overall cost to do make the changes was about $50 and the time was less than one trip to empty the box mid-week.

And Yes it does look like a stretch limo when you pull it out.

Please add any questions or comments below.

 

Ken

Leak Behind Dexter Washer

Leak Behind Dexter Washer

     We have been noticing water on the floor behind a couple of Dexter washers lately. This morning I headed in to see what the problem was.

      Last week we had a similar issue and the drain did not seem to be as quick as it should be and it seemed like the suds were backing up and rolling out of the vent tubes the top loaders connect to. I called in the plumber to jet the lines and after a couple of attempts to get it through the P-Trap (ours are below the floor and he has to be on top of the bulkhead to access it), he finally left to get the end of the water jet tube repaired. It had been bent too many times and just kinked when he tried to push it through the P-Trap.

 

     It was finally cleared out. He did give me a warranty as he was not confident it was as clean as it could be. Usually they won’t give a warranty due to the trash (coins, bra wires, strings, etc) that goes down the pipes.

 

      So back to today and we still had a problem. I checked the horizontal pipe as it was not part of the jetting and it was in really good shape. While I was drying the floor and looking around my attendant ran a load in the machine and during the spin cycle some suds came out of the top vent at the back. This vent is there to prevent an air lock that may prevent the washer from draining.

 

      Next step was to check the drain valve to make sure it was not plugged and I found some suds still in there after the cycle was complete.

      As I was working on this issue I was also looking for leaks in another bulkhead. This second bulkhead has some old valves that have some small drips that need to be replaced. I am waiting for a schedule for the parking lot to be paved and I will shut down and replace the valves at that time.

      During this time my attendant started the Dexter washer connected to it. It had a load of table cloths so I kept an eye on it to see if I would get the same issue. 

         Sure enough when it went in the spin cycle some suds puffed out the back. 

      Root Cause: The attendant was using too much soap. a problem that we have all experienced with the customers.

  

          I’m continuing to dry the floor in the bulkhead and I’ll review the Operation Standards with the attendants.

                 Tired of talking to your attendants over and over again about what is expected?  Set up Operation Standards for each process and train everyone the same. The ones I use in my store are available here.

Operation Standards

 Questions or Comments? Please leave them below and I will get back to you right away.

Ken

 

Episode 27 – Stolen Clothes and Social Media

Stolen Clothes and The Power Of Social Media

 

      A couple of nights ago I received a call from the Police Department of the town where one of my stores is located. A customer had completed her wash and moved the clothes to two of the dryers. She then had to go and pick up her kids from school so she left the store. One the way back she had a flat tire and changed it about a block from the store.

      When she returned her clothes were gone. She checked with two other women in the store and was told that another lady had just taken them.

      Her husband left in the direction the women had indicated.

      As the lady called the police the other women left the store.

      I was called to see if I could come up and look at the cameras and see if we could determine who took the clothes. After reviewing the video we found out it was the two women that were in the store and the clothes were actually in their truck when they were asked about it.

      I told her it would take me a little while to get the video reviewed and pull out the parts that may show who they were and I would post it on the Laundromats Facebook Page.

      I returned home with the saved video and found out I had saved the information for the wrong date.

      I posted on Facebook that the issue had happened and pictures and video would follow. The customer that had lost the clothes had already made some posts on her Facebook page about the issue.

      The next morning I went back to the store to collect and edit the video. I captured some still pictures and posted them on the page and then uploaded 3 videos.

      The page views for one of the videos was over 100 within the hour. I saved all of the video and pictures and created a “How To” page for the video player and dropped off the file to the Police station. We did a quick review to make sure the files were OK and I left it up to them.

      During the day I checked on the Facebook Analytics.

 

      The reach, page likes and shares just kept increasing.  The City had a population of just over 5,000 people but the posts had a total reach of over 8,600 by late in the day.

      Around 7pm I was looking at some comments and someone had asked about the post that the suspects had been found.

      I looked at the original customers status and saw

      “The police caught the girls who stole our clothes and recovered all our property!!!!!!! Girls are both in custody and warrants being sworn out by the sheriff tomorrow to send them to jail for term!! GOD IS SOOOOO STINKING AMAZING!!!!! Thanks to all who prayed and shared our status!!!!”

      It seems the vehicle had been spotted and was followed. The suspects dumped the clothes into a dumpster. The bags were then retrieved.

      Once they were arrested it turned out they lied about that and the clothes were still at their house.

      All of this happened in about 24 hours.

 

      At the time of writing this post they are still sorting things out and I’m sure there will be some charges against the suspects but fortunately the customer got most of her items back.      

      There are a few things that come up in this story we can learn from for our businesses.      
– Have cameras that work and know how to get the information out. In this particular store I had some problems with squirrels getting in the attic and eating the camera wires. I made sure I had at least a couple working until I could get things fixed.      
– Make sure you camera angles cover your important areas (the change machine is number one) but also consider what will support the police in an investigation. (parking lots)      
– Have a Facebook and or other Social Media page. Be ready to use it and be able to post the information.      – Work with your customers quickly if they have an issue. Some have the thoughts that they don’t want to post bad information about their stores on their pages. You can always take it down later but in this case the page was seen by more than the population of the city and my page Likes increased by over 10%.      
– Make it easy for the Police. I provided them a copy of all the raw video including the required Player file, still pictures of the suspects and vehicle, “ready to play” mp4 files of the best angle and the actual crime of them leaving the store and a “How To” page to explain the file names of the video files.     
      Check back soon and I will post a video showing how I made the information for the Facebook posts and what I provided to the Police.
Please Comment, Like and share if you got some value from this.If you have any comments, please post them below.
Ken