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Partners: On-Demand Technology and Traditional Laundry Operations


In this guest post, Rick Rome, Founder of WashClub, discusses factors that laundry and dry cleaner operators should consider as they look to benefit from the rise of on-demand services and technology.


What should laundry owners consider when seeking to partner with a technology-based laundry on-demand service?

When partnering with on-demand services, laundry/dry cleaning owners should be looking for improved ways to get new customers through specific types of marketing, stronger customer services, operational “know how” and increased sales. Today, many local small businesses (including laundromats and dry cleaners) are trying to compete directly with on-demand technology companies. Unfortunately, the competition between the traditional operators and the new on-demand services often leads to a decline in sales for these traditional businesses.

The business model should be focused on the mutual success of both the operator and the on-demand service. The shared goal should be to easily connect local laundry and dry cleaning operators with consumers while offering on-demand pickup and delivery services that customers are increasingly asking for.

What changes should laundry operators make to their facilities to be more attractive to on-demand services looking for partners?

A laundry/dry cleaner operator needs to consider many things; not just updating its equipment but most importantly perhaps, does the operator want to become a wholesaler? An operator who only wants to wholesale laundry operations is a much more attractive partner for a 3rd party on-demand operator.

So the question begs: why is it difficult to transition?

It is very difficult to transition from a retail model to a wholesale model for many reasons. Retail is built primarily on quality service to each individual customer while wholesale is built on the ability to handle large quantities while trying to effectively manage quality control on a larger scale. If an operator wishes to switch from retail to wholesale, they will need to change their business thinking and ways in which they’re accustomed to accomplishing the work. In addition, be prepared that profit margins will get slashed when they switch to wholesale. Operators who are thinking of doing a hybrid model may find that they will be likely worse off as they may not be able to produce enough volume to make the time spent doing wholesale profitable all while training staff to think both ways: “Do I just get it done?” or “Do I take more time but turn out a better product?”

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