Next it was off to my local graphics shop. FreeStyle Graphics. These guys are great as I can throw some ideas at them and they make the magic happen
And what we ended up with was the Washin Coin Laundry Prize Tub.
This tub will be used at the entrance to every monthly event and any special events where names will be collected. These include: Business and Biscuits ( 35-60 people monthly ) Business After Hours ( 100- 300 people monthly ) Various Public Events
After the first use we have decided it needs some effects when it’s being tumbled so we may add some bells to the inside that make some noise.
This is a reasonably inexpensive way to get your business in front of other business people in the community and creates a great piece for people to approach you and have a conversation.
What are some of the out of the ordinary promotions you have run? Let me know in the comments.
Step Number 2 in this process involved digging into last years marketing and then doing the …Whoa!… I spent how much?
Did it work?
In some cases ..Definitely yes.
Here’s the details. This is not something that most people will show you but if you have read my posts or listened to the PodCast you’ll soon realize I’m not like most people.
Now lets get to some of the details.
Anniston Star– One of these charges is for the newspapers that get delivered to the store. I let it run out once and about 2 days later my customers started asking where the paper was. It gets delivered everyday and 99% of the time is still there the next morning. It gets read by dozens of people everyday but nobody ever takes it. The other charges are for some special publications they ran. As their parent company is local and prints a number of local daily and weekly papers they also have many specialty publications.
CAST- This is a local theatre company that puts on 6-8 great shows each year. An ad in their program also includes a couple of passes to the shows. These ads are specifically targeted to that market and consumer. CASTAlabama.com
DayBreak Media- There are a couple of sections here. One is a local Print and on-line magazine that is published monthly and distributed around the local area. The other , “On The Menu”, is published 4 times per year and is mostly focused on local Restaurants and some attractions. This is mostly placed in the hotels in the area. The receptionists at the hotel like it as it helps them direct customers to a particular type of restaurant they are looking for. I run a full page ad in this magazine as well. This will continue to be a big part of my advertising as they have just completed a local sports complex that has a number of major events planned, including a weekend with 2 major events and 900 athletes.
Facebook– Last year a did a few “boosts” and a few other things. This will be increased in 2017 and I’ll be learning more about focused ad placements as well. I’m not too bad now but it’s an area I want to improve on. Stay tuned for the posts from that experience. I did find out one thing about my Facebook ads. People want reality TV and if it’s local they want it more. I had some damage and a person had an extinguisher sprayed at them. Some editing and a $10 boost on Facebook put the video in front of 252,000 people, over 1200 shares and almost 100 comments. HERE’s The Link if your interested. On a side note I was told by the “veterans” of the industry to never post things like this. I’m here to say that that video increased the sales in my store.
Google AdWords Express– Another area that I am going to learn more about soon. Early in the year I spent a large percentage of this in a nearby market that had their laundromat burn down. Once it re-opened , an another new one about the same time, I stopped advertising in that market. The rest of the year was some simple ads in my own area with not enough focus and attention. One of the ads targeted hunters so they would keep their gear out of their home washers.
High School Football Programs- Oxford High School is right across the road some my newest store. The ad was simple. You can literally see my TV’s from the stands.
I also ran an ad in another local football program. My condition for running this is that the other Coin Laundry that was in it the year before did not run an ad. They are located the opposite direction from this town and I did not want to complete with them. There is lots of places to advertise so why be in the same spot.
NLM- New Leaf Marketing- Our local Swag provider. Pens. I give out about 1200 a year. I buy a good quality, reasonably priced clip pen in Yellow or Pink and leave them everywhere. Restaurants can never have enough pens, Chamber of Commerce Events, when you sign in you are probably using one of mine, I leave them at banks, businesses, and customers take them when they do their Drop Off. Other items I had for some specialty events this year were some pockets mirrors, aprons for people to wear during a Pie Eating Contest. They all had my Logo as well. And the table cloth they sat at had my logo on it.
Some other items that were specific to this year were for the opening of the new Washin Oxford Coin Laundry store. These included Ballots for the Grand Opening Prize Draw, Radio station Live Remotes, Radio Station advertising spots, T-Shirts and a few other items. Plus all the prizes not listed on this sheet (55″ TV, lots of Laundry Tokens, jugs of soap and lots more).
What were the results of the Grand Opening Draw? About 270 non-duplicate entries, and 135 that provided their email addresses.
The 2017 Planning continues.
If you’re looking for some ideas and support I suggest downloading a free guide from David Smith at Valens Point. It’s a simple method to target your marketing and be effective.
Today I’m working on my 2017 Marketing and Budgeting Plan. It’s a little behind schedule but based on my past few years I’m way ahead just looking at it.
Previously I have been just a shoot- from-the-hip type of marketing for my Laundromats and I noticed this last year that I missed a few opportunities that, with more planning and foresight, would have been some great exposure.
Part of this year’s overall plans are to increase the Drop Off business at this store. With the opening of the newest, unattended store, Washin Oxford Coin Laundry, the self serve volume has decreased slightly which allows us more access to the machines, especially on the weekends.
With those plans in mind the marketing for this store will be targeted at the Drop Off Market with very little focus on Self Serve. (I will work on another plan for the new Self Serve store as there are many sports tournaments at a new local park that will come into play this year).
A few weeks ago another Chamber of Commerce member put on a free seminar at the Chamber covering this topic. I went in with no real plan, just an open mind. He provided a number of worksheets that we put down some various marketing that has been used and how effective we felt it was. If we were not sure how effective it was then guess what?… it wasn’t very effective.
Next we looked at any special days, events, cycles, seasons that affect our business. In the Laundromat business there are the Spring and Fall bumps that we see due to a lot of house cleaning but what about vacations, back to school, Thanksgiving, and other local events that have an impact.
Any upgrades planned to your store? New equipment, renovations (paint, lights, restroom). They are opportunities to market and some time and budget should be assigned.
As I looked though the budgeting I realized I didn’t really understand where I had spent the money last year. As I made notes monthly advertising (Facebook, AdWords, local magazines) were easy but the one-of advertising throughout the year just kept adding to the list and I wasn’t really sure of the amounts.
After the seminar it was homework time, which is what I’m working on now. I ran into some more of the same questions and I have asked for a detailed list of all of the advertising from last year from my accountant.
So right now I’m going backwards so that I can go forward. I need to understand where the money went last year, did I really see results and then I can work on the plan for next year.
P.S. That’s me with a local Radio Host that I just remembered was some other advertising from this year.
There are a few different methods to radio advertising. The main method is to purchase a set of ads that are `10, 30 or 60 seconds long and run them a set number of times per week.
Recently I opened a new store and was tlking to a local station that I had not done any work with before about a live remote for the Grand Opening. The salesman mentioned they had a promotion comping up the following week and had some spots available.
They were giving away tickets to a concert in Atlanta and would spend an hour 2x per day, 3x per week at different locations.
They had 3 spots left so I signed up one for each of the three stores.
The first was at the new store so the main promotion was about this new location and some talk about the other 2 locations in the listening area.
During the hour the Dj and myself would talk about the store and features and they would explain the ticket giveaway. There were four spots per hour that were about 3 minutes long. In many of the other stops it was only the DJ that did the talking but I jumped “On The Air” myself.
Talking on the radio is not for everybody but you really just need to have a short story to tell to explain why someone would use your store, and then the DJ will usually back you up . Just talk to the DJ and don’t worry about anything else.
The cost was $200 per location for the hour.
Did anyone stop by to fill out the draw ticket and see the store….No. but this particuar station is played in many offices and waiting rooms in the area and that’s the people I envisioned talking too when I was on the radio.
The second stop was at my store that has a Drop Off. I requested the female half of the morning team as I felt her reinforcement of how convenient the Drop Off service was would seem more credible.
I was not able to make the stop at the third store but by then they had a good handle on the message I was promoting.
It’s tough to determine the ROI for this type of promotion but trying different methods and determining who your target market is gets your information to them a different way.
Interested in opeing your own Laundromat or improve the one you have?
This morning I issued a Press Release for the new location that my company is building. Press releases are a great way to get your information out to media outlets (which includes many forms now) and could get you an interview or at least an article in a local, national or trade publication.
One thing to keep in mind is that you need to have a good Heading and Sub Heading to get people to click on your information. Just like people searching Facebook or Google if the heading doesn’t interest you it will just roll off the screen.
To see all of the details in how I put this together the video with all of the tips will be posted in the Members Area.
Whether you run an Unattended, Partially or Fully Attended chances are you will have some clothes left behind from your customers.
You would be surprised the amount of items we have left in our Drop Off Service. We make sure that we always get the phone number of the customers, especially if they are dropping a comforter.
We will start making calls about 2 weeks after they were dropped off unless we start to run out of storage space and then it is sooner. Each call is documented on the ticket with the date, initials of who called and the results. Left Message, Will Pick Up on ____, Wrong number etc.
We keep the items for at least 30 days as that is what is printed on the tickets. After a reasonable amount of time the items are moved to the office/ storage area in the next unit. This is a separate store front and has limited access.
Once things start to pile up I make a donation trip. Any towels get donated to the local Animal Shelter. Other items are sometimes split between other charities or Thrift Stores. I have made many donations to the Salvation Army as well.
Recently I was talking to my accountant about it and she said I could just drop the items off at her office and she would take them to a local charity. I asked her about what they could use and it turns out it is a real, grassroots, local community charity. They have a food pantry where people can pick up limited items for free. They do have a Thrift Store where they sell some of the items to raise money for the organization but many of the items are just given to people that really need them. Also in cases where people have had fires or floods they will provide the items for free.
This seemed like the best place to make some donations.
Today I had my Expedition loaded with a bunch of items from around the house. I have two teenage daughters and we recently had to empty their rooms to install new carpet so we told them nothing goes back until it gets sorted. This ended up with about 4 garbage bags worth of clothes that didn’t fit or they just weren’t going to wear. Tell me if you have seen this before….some still had the tags on them!!
So I showed up and told them I had some donations. They grabbed a shopping cart and I said that wouldn’t be enough so they grabbed one more. I said Still not enough. When I opened the back of the truck they were a little speechless and then I told them this was just the first load.
Here is a picture of the second load. This was all left at the laundry and it was spring cleaning time.
I told my attendants that if anyone came in that had left their items a few months ago to say sorry but the donations will be appreciated and give to people in need.
If you run an unattended laundromat you could also have a bin for “Un-Needed But Usable Clothes”. Some people may take some or all of them but
I am very active with the local Chamber of Commerce and attend many events. A couple of their monthly meetings are Business and Biscuits and Business After Hours.
It does take a few meetings and conversations to get to know people and after awhile I have found that some local businesses will call me if they have issues with their commercial machines.
In some cases it’s a simple fix like a drain valve or a water valve and I will order the part and repair it for them.
One business I have done a few things for was a local Spa. They have an OPL (On Premise Laundry) machine. Basically it’s the same as some of my washers except it doesn’t have a coin drop.
The called saying their washer was vibrating very badly and asked if I could take a look. I started it up and sure enough it was shaking like a human being (my Canadian friends will recognize the Kim Mitchell reference).
A quick investigation found that one of the mounting bolts was broken off of the base.
I called a service tech a couple of hours away and explained the problem to him as this was something I was not comfortable repairing. He said he would have to pass it to his installation team as they had the tools and equipment to move the washer and drill new lag bolts into the concrete.
I sent him a few of the attached pictures so they could see what was required and let the Spa Manager know that they would be coming to repair it.
Although in this case I couldn’t repair it for them and didn’t charge them for the visit it helps to build relationships with other local business owners.
It also helps that they use my Laundromat whenever they have a problem with their machines.
Another time there was an occasion where I received a call from the local Salvation Army shelter that they had problems with their washer. The water fill valve was leaking and spraying water over the machine so they only turned it on during the fill cycle.
I picked up the valve and some new belts at a local supplier and repaired the washer the next day. There was no charge for the parts or labor on that one.
It takes some time and effort but get to know other business owners around you so everyone has somebody to call if they have a question.
Many businesses are looking to improve their online presence and are using social media, paid advertising, blogs and many other methods but they have overlooked some of the basics, Showing up on the search results.
Google, Bing and Yahoo are constantly updating their systems to provide relevant information based on user searches and even if you have been on the first page previously you may not be there now.
This PodCast is also part of the video below.
In this video I go through some live searches to find my own and other businesses in the area using customer search terms.
In conclusion I recommend that you search for your own products or services and see how you rank. Use your customers search terms. Also use other computers and your smart phone to see how you rank. Another idea would be to ask a friend or other businesses owner what they would search for to find your business.
Being found on a search is still one on the best methods to be in front of potential customers looking for your product or service.
The lights in the overhead sign were out so it was time to get some repairs done. As it was the Fall and the time change was complete the lights in the sign come on before most people head home from work.
I decided to install LED light tubes in place of the T-8 florescent. It is a pretty easy conversion and the label says the tubes will last 45 years. Maybe I should renew my Lease?
First step is to check and make sure you have power to the sign and that your photo sensor is working OK.
Next shut the power off so you can work safely. I disconnected the wire nut in in the sign and isolated the power feed.. this allowed me to test the new lights by bypassing the photo sensor.
The old ballasts are removed and not used with the new LED lights. Cut the wires near the ballast as you will use them to rewire the fixture.
Non-Shunted tombstones must be used with the LED lights. If you are not sure if your are non-shunted ( and they probably are not) it’s not a bad idea to change them as they tend to get brittle over time and may even have some burn marks. And the bulb says you won’t be back for 45 years so why not put in a few new parts now. The tombstones cast less than $4 each.
Only one end of the tube is wired so I only changed that end. The others were in good shape.
Wire the tombstones with a power and neutral wire in parallel. The wire just pushes into the base so the only tools you need are wire strippers and cutters.
After you install a set test them to make sure they work and everything looks good.
The finished product. I had to cover the photo sensor to get the lights to turn on. The photo sensor must be covered for a minute or two before it comes on. This is to prevent the light from flickering on and off.
The sign originally had 8′ tubes installed. when I converted it to four foot tubes about 4 years ago the old fixtures were corroded into the sign so I worked around them. This is part of the reason the the lights can be seen at the top and bottom of the display. The other reason is that this sign is about 40 years old so some of the paint/coating is faded.
I have considered a new insert to the sign but I like the old look to this one. In the next year or two I will be upgrading the sign with the company logo and replacing the lower sign with more of the services and benefits.
City bylaws prevent the installation of signs above the roof line but this was grandfathered in as it was existing. I was able to add the lower sign when I took over the store as it fits inside the 10% coverage rule and the overhead sign is not included.