Updated: Nov 28, 2021
Just the other day, I received a phone call from a laundry owner asking me if there was a “secret” to keeping a laundry clean. Before I could get a word in, she launched into a story about an attendant who was great with the customers, showing them which machines to use and why or how much soap to put into the machines, but was a terrible housekeeper. Furthermore, the attendant they had had just quit, and now she and her husband were cleaning the laundry 2 times a day and it wasn’t easy. She went on to tell me how they had saved their money to purchase the laundry and how much time they had dedicated to ensure that their customers received the best possible experience using their laundry. Now they needed to find the right attendant -- and fast. I reminded her that the laundry business is a simple business, not an easy one and told her that I could help her discover the “secret” to a cleaner laundry. I asked them to meet me at their laundry later that week.
When I arrived at the laundry it looked pretty good. However, I noticed that there were some things that could be improved upon. As I walked through their laundry, I started off by telling them that a well-trained laundry attendant is the most important public relations tool in the coin laundry business. Laundry attendants are your first line of communication with your laundry customers. They represent you to the public. Attendants need to understand the importance of their job. I asked them how much cleaning training they had given their attendant and what exactly they had expected from him? By the look in their eyes, I knew they needed a refresher course in laundry cleaning. I began to tell them of the “T.E.A.M.” approach.
The “T.E.A.M.” approach is simply this:
Train them in the proper use of the “tools of the trade” in cleaning the laundry.
Educate them on the importance of their jobs to the success of the laundry.
Allow for mistakes
Allow for them to forget how to do it properly and have the patience to show them how you want it performed.
Motivate them to do more than just what is expected and reward them with kind words and a few extra bucks in their paychecks. Better yet, buy them lunch every now and then. You’d be surprised how much they appreciate the little things.
Here is how you get started:
Make a list of tasks you expect the attendant to do.
Split the list into 4 categories:
Always (such as sweep floors, empty trash, assist customers)
Hourly (such as clean restrooms, wipe down machines, check/clean parking lot)
Daily (such as fill towel dispensers, mop floors, detail the toploaders)
Weekly (such as clean lint out of dryers, wash windows, and wipe down walls)
Now comes the important part. Go out and purchase the proper tools and supplies needed to help the attendant properly perform the tasks. Think about it: you wouldn’t expect an auto mechanic to fix your car with just a wrench. Nor should you expect your attendant to keep the laundry clean with just a broom. Depending on how many employees you have, schedule a 1-hour training session with each employee. Demonstrate to them how you want the work completed. Take them through the tasks step by step, doing the work yourself with them watching. You would be surprised that some don’t even know how to properly use a broom. (Don’t laugh; it’s true!) Next, indicate just how long each task should take. Now create a task list and post it where they can see it. Have each employee during each shift mark off the Daily/Weekly tasks as they are completed. Have all employees sign you newly created manual with the Code of Conduct which includes the above mentioned tasks along with Do’s and Don’t list. You’ll be surprised how easy managing your employees will be when you can point to or discuss any one of the items in your new book.
When you are finished, several things will occur: 1) You will have a greater appreciation of their job; 2) They will understand what is expected of them and how the work should be performed; and 3) You now have a basis for evaluating their performance when it is time to discuss their next raise. Over time you will find good and bad employees. It is hard to keep the good ones; it is even harder to get rid of the bad ones. In time, your employees will be able to train the new employees. Now you will have one less thing to worry about in your laundry and can concentrate on other issues, like increasing profits.
Remember, vision gets you there; details keep you there.
Andrew J Cunningham is a 36 year industry veteran located in Southern California. He is an
author, broker, consultant and an operational guru. Andrew can be reached at