Laundromats are not known for connecting with their customers; as long as there's plentiful parking and affordable washing machines, customers are generally satisfied. Tom Benson, owner of the World's Largest Laundromat in Ill., wasn't satisfied with that arrangement however, and sought to provide an even better experience.In an in-depth profile of Benson and his 16-year-old laundromat, The Distance highlights the business's unique factors. In addition to offering more than 300 washers and dryers in a building that measures 13,500 square feet (the average U.S. laundromat is about 2,500 square feet) the World's Largest Laundromat has an aviary, immigration seminars, free pizza nights, a play area for children, and a summer reading program.
The idea, Benson tells The Distance, is to "respect their [customers'] time. The average person spends two hours here. ...If you make that time somewhat useful to them, if they enjoy the time, if the atmosphere is good -- and I think it's very friendly inside here -- they're not going to feel bad about coming. You change something that's pure drudgery -- doing laundry -- into something that's enjoyable."
Benson's bet appears to be paying off. Based on surveys, about a quarter of Benson's customers live at least two miles away and pass several nearby laundromats to reach his location. Other industries can learn from the laundromat's emphasis on differentiated customer service.
Those lessons include understanding your customer's needs. Benson saw that many of his customers had children in tow, so he provided activities to occupy them while the adults wash their laundry.
Differentiate your brand with customer experience. When your competitors offer similar services and prices, the way your treat your customers can make all the difference. And finally, provide a dependable service. Numerous reviews cite the laundromat's 24-hour service, abundant parking spots, and plentiful vending/washing/drying machines as major benefits. When your competitor is often one click or phone call away, companies can't afford to offer subpar or limited services.