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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

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

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

 

Equipment Cleaning

Laundromats are a tough place to keep clean sometimes and it’s easy to overlook items that get a little grungy over time. Sometimes you need to stop and look at the store like a new customer would.

 

               I noticed a couple of my washers were getting a little run-down looking. With the soap, bleach and water being splashed on the tops and fronts it was time for a cleaning.

Finding the right cleaner can be a challenge as well.

              I read recently about a product called Barkeepers Friend so I thought I would give it a shot.

 

             It can be found in a lot of stores so I went to my local big box building store and using their app found the location of the cleaners. I picked up the dry and soft scrubs so I could see the difference.

             After leaving them in my other car the first time and not having the time to use them on the next trip I finally combined the trip, time and cleaner to the same day and headed at a couple of washers.

           It did take a bit of rubbing in some spots but overall they came up great. When I was finished a used a stainless spray cleaner to put a slight coating over the stainless to help keep the water and detergent from sticking.

 This picture shows the left washer that has been cleaned with Barkeepers Friend

 

Both of these have been cleaned. The one on the right has been sprayed with a regular stainless steel Cleaner/ Protectant. It leaves a slightly oily feel so it needs to be rubbed with a dry cloth. 

( I didn’t clean the coin boxes)

 

 

http://www.castalabama.com/

Community Theatre Support and Advertising

     

     Last year during a Chamber of Commerce event I saw some flyers for a local community theater. They were offering season tickets for the upcoming shows.
As I looked at the flyer I turned to my accountant that was also there and asked if I could write it off as entertainment. Her response was it would be better as an advertising expense.

 

            A couple of weeks later I contacted the theater group, CAST – Community Actors’ Studio Theatre, about tickets. During our discussion I found that they have another brochure that is for advertisers.

            The advertising package contains various sized spots in the programme ranging from a 1/4 page business card up to a full page or the back cover. There is also information and links put on their website and some levels provide additional advertising at the event, on banners and other flyers.

            But the best part is that it includes seasons tickets to the shows.

             I have seen many live theatre performances that vary from local groups, improv and full Broadway productions. The list includes Miss Saigon, Showboat, Lion King,  and many others. It has been a number of years since I had been to any.  

           One that caught my eye when I was looking at the flyer was “Oklahoma”, although I didn’t remember too much about it I do remember when I was a kid going with my Grandparents and an Uncle out for a spaghetti dinner and to see the live show in a small theatre. It was an experience that I wanted to share with my own teenagers.

          The other part I liked was that they were performing many recognizable shows including Spamalot,  The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, A Christmas Carol, and The complete works of William Shakespeare (abridged).

           After a great season of shows and only one we could not make due to Show Choir and Dance competitions it was time for this season.

           There was no hesitation about this years’ advertising. They have a great line up of performances this year.

            Now to some lessons learned that you can take forward. When I met to put the ads in last year we were very rushed to put them together and get them in the first programme. Due to my delay we were almost sliding the card into the press during printing. I used a post card that I had made previously with the store information and some background graphics. 

             Once I got to the first show and was looking for my ad in the program I realized that the program was black and white and I actually turned the page past my own ad as it was mostly grey due to the background image.

 

 But it was actually closer to this size in the programme

 

              Always on the lookout for better marketing methods I started looking at the other ads to see what worked well. As it turns out one of the most noticeable smaller sized ads was for a pest control company. A very simple 1/4 page ad put in vertically Logo, Bugs listed, Location, Phone number. 

           They covered it in about 4 lines. This is who we are, this is what we do, here’s where we are, here’s how to contact us. Boom. Drop The Mic.

             I also realized that I needed to target the potential customer that will be holding the programme. A simple ad for a Coin Laundry may bring back bad memories of their first apartment or a college laundromat.

             At this point we are still working on the layout of the new ad but it will be black and white.  Logo, What we do, Where we are and how to get a hold of us.

          My thoughts right now are:

Your Comforter Cleaning Headquarters
Drop it off and let us do the work”

1304 Greenbrier Rd, Anniston, AL
WashinGoldenSprings.com
256-835-2141

            I would love your thoughts on a catchy ad and to hear about other non-traditional ads you have run.

 I’ll see you at the show

 

UPDATE:

      I was at the first show last week with my wife, two daughters and two of their friends and found our ad in the program. Much better than last year and a better placing on the page.

 

            On another note my daughters and their friends had a fantastic time. They are all 15 and when ever I glanced over it was great to see them so focused on the show.                 Exposing kids and teens to live theatre has an impact you may not see for years but with the cost of a local show about the same price as a movie and snacks I’ll take the support of local talent any day. And who knows maybe your kids will see someone at the Academy Awards one day and be able to say they saw them at a local theatre “back in the day“. 

 

Ken

Planet Laundry Letting Go Cover

Outsourcing- An Update – Planet Laundry Magazine Article

Outsourcing- An Update – Planet Laundry Magazine

        As I mentioned in a previous post about a recent vacation I have been working on outsourcing many of the functions of my Laundromats.

         The unattended Laundromats are not too bad as things are pretty consistent but the partially attended Coin Laundry is much more dynamic. There are many more items to consider such as payroll, shifts, holidays, inventory and stocking of vending machines and Drop Off supplies.

         Add to all of the this the normal bookkeeping, payroll taxes and various other forms and reports there is a lot going on.

         As I was setting things in place for the vacation I was approached by the Coin Laundry Association magazine, Planet Laundry, about and article on outsourcing.

Here is the main part of the article.

 

Is Outsourcing the Way to Grow Your Laundry Business… and Get Your Life Back?

            Being an entrepreneur, you clearly enjoy wearing several different hats. In fact, the very minute you opened your store, you probably took on a dozen or more jobs all at once.                  All laundry operators – and small-business owners, in general – occasionally feel like “I am the business!” However, it also stands to reason that you might not handle all of those business-related tasks equally well. What’s more, it’s dangerous for a growing operation to run this way for too long. You will surely fail to maintain the business over time, not to mention you can lose touch with your family… and your sanity.

                   “I wanted the flexibility this industry provides, but I found that, over the past year or so, I was falling into a ‘job’ mentality and just doing all the work,” said Ken Barrett, a laundry owner in Anniston, Ala. “Recently, I’ve been expanding to other projects and started running out of time for the laundromats and my family. I had fallen into the ‘Superman Syndrome,’ which affects most entrepreneurs. You’re afraid of releasing control, because you feel no one else can do it as well as you can. As it turns out, other people can do many things better and faster.”

                    Barrett is among a growing number of laundry owners who have looked to outsourcing to more effectively build their businesses. (The term “outsourcing” is sometimes confused with simply adding staff to handle daily tasks. This article will examine outsourcing as the practice of hiring independent individuals or firms from outside your business.)

                  Taking the first steps toward outsourcing can be time-consuming, but figuring out how to build your business with help from outside professionals can offer increased efficiencies and economies of scale.

                   “Progressive entrepreneurs realize the unstoppable power of outsourcing to handle aspects of their business that are essential, but simply don’t make sense for them to deal with personally,” said David Walsh, an entrepreneur and author of “Source Control,” an e-book on effective small-business outsourcing. “Small business, augmented by a global pool of human capital, can compete directly with the biggest players in their space, and win.”

What to Outsource

    Chances are you’re already outsourcing some business tasks, such as payroll administration or background/criminal checks for employment. These days, almost any task can be outsourced, with many qualified professionals leaving the corporate world to work as freelancers or contractors. However, just because you can outsource a task doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

             “Don’t outsource something just because you don’t want to do it,” explained Jim Lanzalotto, principal at Scanlon Louis, a marketing and strategic outsourcing company. “Sometimes there are things you don’t want to do but they are important to your core business.”

             Consider what non-core activities you might be able to outsource. This will help you stop doing things you hate doing (and are probably not that good at), and it will free up your time to focus on the things at which you excel. Leverage the talents of others, rather than trying to do it all by yourself – after all, your time is most valuable asset.

Here are some of the most commonly outsourced small-business tasks:

                 Marketing: Marketing is the fuel of a small business. Your marketing efforts tie directly to your sales results. You can outsource your marketing efforts to a consultant or public relations specialist. Some marketing professionals will help you create an overall advertising and marketing strategy, develop downloadable content for your website, conduct email marketing campaigns, and pitch the media on your business.

                  Payroll: Unless you run an accounting firm, you shouldn’t be doing your own payroll. You can get in trouble faster with the IRS for not paying your payroll taxes properly than not paying personal income taxes. If you hire an outsourcing company to do your payroll, you can rest assured that you and your staff will have no issue when income tax season rolls around at the beginning of each year.

                  Social Media Marketing: There are plenty of marketing consultants and social media marketing agencies that can handle developing social media strategy, content development and social promotion for your laundry business. Just remember that social media is a long-term strategy, so be prepared to invest 12 to 24 months to achieve your goals.

                  Bookkeeping: Bookkeeping is the number one task that small-business owners routinely neglect and struggle with managing in their operations. Don’t let this happen to your laundry business. By the 15th of the month, you should know how well your business did last month so that you can make any adjustments. By outsourcing your basic accounting services to a seasoned bookkeeper, you will have the ability to use updated financial information to run your laundry.

                Administrative Support: Utilizing “virtual assistants” is a cost-effective way to get routine tasks handled. You can use a virtual assistant for maintaining your personal schedule, database, preparing mailings, email newsletters, blog maintenance, invoicing, and voicemail and email management. You can even leverage a niche-focused virtual assistant to do bookkeeping and receipt management.

Of course, within the self-service laundry business, equipment maintenance and repair also are at the top of the outsourcing list. …..

Ken Barrett
Washin Anniston
Washin Golden Springs
Anniston, Ala.

                       I outsource my bookkeeping. My accountant has a laptop at her office, which I supplied. This allows my files and programs to be separate from her other activities. The list of responsibilities includes:

•    Confirming attendant times remotely in the time clock.

•    Importing the times into QuickBooks.

•    Running payroll every Friday – direct deposit and emailed paystubs eliminate the need to deliver anything to the employees.

•    Payment of all state and federal taxes.

•    Logging into the bank and adding comments to all transactions.

•    Downloading all transactions to QuickBooks.

•    Providing a weekly report of any attendant late clock-ins or any other abnormalities.

•    Reconciling bank statements monthly.

•    The next step will be to change the mailing address of the utility bills to her office so that they can make the payments directly from the bank.

                  My bookkeeper also handles my refund program. I scan all of the paper refund slips into a DropBox account, as well as any voice messages. The bookkeeper adds all of the information into a spreadsheet and checks for excess refunds to one name or specific address. When I stop by, I sign the checks and they get mailed out.

                  Doing the simple, day-to-day tasks requires little effort, and it’s easy to fall into a routine and forget why you got into this business in the first place.

Finding the Right Partners

               Before handing over the reins, be sure you’re working with the right partner. A good starting place is your own network; ask other laundry owners – or your accountant, lawyer or banker – if they can recommend a provider offering the services you need. Online networks like LinkedIn also make it easy to expand your personal networks and to ask for recommendations.

              In the absence of a good recommendation from a friend or acquaintance, professional associations or trade groups often can recommend the right partner for your needs. In addition, a number of online services – such as oDesk, BidModo and eLance – service as virtual marketplaces for contractors and business owners to connect and begin working relationships.

              Whether you use a web-based marketplace, a personal referral, or a personalized matchmaking consultant, the key to identifying the right contractor is to know exactly what you’re looking for.

Reaping the Benefits

                Although there are risks, outsourcing ultimately offers laundry owners great advantages. The process allows you to build a team of skilled professionals without adding the expense of full-time employees, and to avoid getting bogged down with tasks that can be completed without your attention. It’s an affordable, proven strategy for growing your business without letting it take over your life.

                Stop making yourself crazy by trying to do everything at your store. If you outsource just a couple of business functions, outsourcing can pay for itself in no time. Do your research, check their references and ask for referrals from fellow laundry owners before hiring anyone. Once you start outsourcing a few non-critical tasks in your business, you may wonder why it took you so long to do it.

                 “Outsourcing is frustrating, difficult, tiring, time consuming – and the best thing you can do to grow your business,” Barrett said. “You may actually be what’s getting in the way.”

                   “Is there a task that I wouldn’t outsource? Yes, being the visionary and driving force of the business and deciding how I want to spend my time.”

             I hope this helps provide some insight into the “behind the scenes” operation of my stores.

              Stay tuned as I work through the various parts of the outsourcing in detail.
Ken
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 The original article can be found HERE

A Step Back in Laundromat Time

A Step Back in Laundromat Time

        “You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

 

         I took a tour through a random Laundromat in Alabama. 98% of the equipment and other items in the store had not changed in 40+ years.

 

           The store is still being used regularly and the equipment was all working. When I was there on a Wednesday morning there was always someone using the store.

 

             I can only imagine how many people have read the signs over the years, or have ignored the signs and the amount of snacks that have been run through the vending machine.

 Ken

P.S Don’t forget to check out LaundromatHowTo.info for products and services you can use in your business.

Speed Queen Single Pocket Dryer

Random Laundromat Review

Random Laundromat Review

     As I travel around I stop at various Laundromats to see how they are doing and to get some ideas.

   This Laundromat needed some repairs and was missing a key piece of equipment. Can you spot it?

 

 

Ken 

Late Nights In The Laundromat

        You never know what you may see in the Laundromat late at night. This guy walks around town collecting pop cans. I have previously told him to stay out of the store but he comes in late at night.

         From what I have heard he does have a place to stay but he is all over town during the day and night. He is messed up from taking drugs and although it looks bad in the video he is not violent. But it appears he is frustrated at times.

         The next morning we found the mess and a raw chicken breast that had been thrown at one of the TV’s and was still stuck.

         Should I be surprised that he threw a raw chicken breast at the TV or that he had one to throw.

The video is sped up to save some time.

The sign clearing says No Smoking but I guess he felt it didn’t apply to chicken.

Ken

Missed Clean or want to relive some highlights of the show?

Missed Clean or want to relive some highlights of the show? Check out the CLA Clean Show scrapbook today. Plus, you will be able to download: Audio only recordings of the CLA educational sessions and view Flip My Laundry videos. Enjoy!
http://bit.ly/_scrapbook

The Clean Show – Coin Laundry Association
The Clean Show is the largest event for the laundry industry and is the best resource for coin laundry owners and those thinking of purchasing a coin laundry business.Explore the Clean Show.

 

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