It doesn’t take much to touch people, extend a hand, or offer kind words, according to business partners Brian Holland and Tyrone Akins. So when they launched their business plan to develop a chain of vended laundries, they also set out to serve and strengthen inner city Philly. And, that’s what they’re doing. In less than three years, they’ve successfully innovated two laundries in Philadelphia – both branded The Laundry Café – dedicated to honesty, transparency and community improvement. “We are as committed to the community using our laundries as we are to commerce,” said Holland. “That’s key to our business model.”
Located about 8 miles apart, the laundries feature a vast array of services and amenities – wash/dry/fold, drop-off dry cleaning, massage chairs, low-fee computer rentals, free WIFI, video games, Starbucks coffee kiosks, digital jukeboxes, flat-screen TVs and a mix of approximately 140 Huebsch washers and dryers in 20- to 80-pound capacities. Fully attended, open 24 hours per day and card operated, The Laundry Cafés not only offer a safe haven for inner-city residents to complete laundry, they deliver unrivaled customer care and community support services.
ESD CyberLaundry System –
A Card-Operated Payment System
Attendants greet customers with curbside assistance, and once indoors, take them through the benefits of the laundry’s wireless ESD CyberLaundry System. Rather than using quarters
to operate equipment, customers swipe loyalty cards, debit cards and credit cards, according to Holland. The CyberLaundry System is customizable so laundries can accept any combination of
coins, loyalty cards, debit cards and credit cards.
In this case, Akins and Holland decided to go with cards only. “CyberLaundry It is not only simpler and safer for customers, it provides powerful management controls, tracking tools and remote access, which are tremendously valuable when you’re open 24/7,” said Holland.
More than 90 percent of customers use The Laundry Café loyalty cards to operate washers and dryers, and gain access to upscale bathrooms, added Holland. Customers access Value Transfer Machines (VTM™), which are located throughout the laundries, to load value onto their cards. For travelers and passersby who do not choose to have a loyalty card, CyberLaundry offers the added convenience of using a credit card right at the washer.
For every wash, customers are rewarded with points toward a free dry. “CyberLaundry’s state-of-the-art digital interface works seamlessly with all major equipment manufacturers,” said Holland. “It provides easy and nearly unlimited operator controls to support a business.” At any time, he can run promotions through the CyberLaundry System, replace or revalue a loyalty card, or view a customer’s transactional history. All this can be accomplished from any computer with Internet access.
MyLaundryLink Management System
While the CyberLaundry System is a benefit for customers, it’s also a benefit to Akins and Holland. It comes with a management system – MyLaundryLink – that allows them to access critical
data about their laundries,
in real-time, via the Internet.
Even when away, Akins and Holland can monitor and interact with every washer and dryer in each location.
“The remote capability is a Godsend,” said Akins. “We’ve got two stores and we can’t be two places at once.
It allows us to manage critical business processes without having to be physically present.”
This comes in handy when the owners are gone and an attendant needs to start a washer to process wash/dry/fold. “We can easily start washers from our computers within seconds, allowing for an uninterrupted flow to this task,” Akins said.
Additionally, they can monitor washer/dryer turns per day, customer accounts, and income by hour, day, month and year; revalue loyalty cards, adjust vend pricing, program laundry equipment, run specials and promotions; and start and stop equipment. “At any point in time, I can see exactly what each store is generating,” said Holland. “I appreciate having accurate and real-time financial transparency.
”MyLaundryLink also assists with payroll by tracking employee hours and pay rates, according to Akins. “Employees clock in and out by swiping employee cards at the VTM™,” he said. “At the end of a pay period, I export that data to an Excel spreadsheet and send it to our payroll service. It’s a well-integrated system.”
Multi-Pronged Marketing Approach & Consistent Message
Akins, who spearheads marketing efforts, harnesses social media, signage, loyalty-card promotions, radio ads, public relations and a solid Web presence to garner and keep customers.
In doing so, he reinforces a consistent theme: We invest in the community and work to make it better! We deliver stellar customer care and curbside assistance! We make it easy and safe
to do your laundry!
It’s all about the customer, according to Akins and Holland, who grew up in the inner city. “We see the challenges that plague the inner city and we want to address those challenges wherever possible,” said Holland.
Community Care Programs Abound
That’s why The Laundry Cafés hold a number of programs for area residents. “Family Night” encourages families to gather for free pizza and a movie on Wednesday evenings;
“Honor Roll Sweepstakes” provides community youth who make the honor roll the chance to win something fun – an iPad, Wii or Kindle Fire; and the “Halloween Costume Showcase”
gives local kids the opportunity to
flaunt costumes and enjoy free candy, music and movies. Other programs, which are free and open to the public, focus on heart health, hypertension and breast cancer awareness, according to Akins.
“We feel these programs are good because they educate customers on ways to make a positive change in their lives. All of our programs fall into our four guiding principles: serve with honor, live
with respect, grow with humility, repay with generosity.”
Even the songs played over the digital jukeboxes are positive and empowering – especially toward women, who make up 80 percent of the laundries’customer base.
For now, the business partners are excited about growing their laundries and bettering the communities in which they serve.
“If we all realized how important it is to touch people’s lives in a positive way, the world would be a better place,” said Holland.
Is it any wonder business is booming at both locations? Upscale amenities and unsurpassed customer care contribute to robust business that produces turns per day that soar above average!
Discover more about The Laundry Cafés at www.laundrycafe.com. Find out more about ESD electronic payment systems, including CyberLaundry, at www.esdcard.com.