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How laundromats are reinventing themselves

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Arunabh Sinha
Arunabh Sinha
Arunabh Sinha is the chief executive officer of the dry cleaning and laundry chain UClean

From adopting technology to improving efficiency and cost-effectiveness, to embracing sustainable practices for cleaner, operations, here’s what laundromats are doing to stay relevant and profitable

 By Arunabh Sinha

New Delhi: In recent years, technology has transformed different facets of our lives, and laundromats are no exception. Laundromats, conventionally perceived as a simple and up-front business, have incorporated technology to improve efficiency, cost-effectiveness, profitability, and customer experience.

Tech adoption
Businesses in the sector have combined mobile apps that facilitate tracking the availability of machines, reserving washers, and dryers, and getting notifications when their laundry is ready for pickup. Furthermore, cashless payment systems, such as mobile wallets and contactless cards have become prevalent, curtailing the reliance on cash and making transactions more expedient for customers.

Furthermore, franchisees now gather and examine data related to their laundromat operations. This data-driven approach offers actionable insights into customer preferences, machine performance, and peak usage hours, letting the owners make well-informed decisions and modify their services to meet customer demands.

Also, IoT-powered machines have been developed that allow laundromat owners to remotely monitor and manage operations. These smart machines can identify issues, improve water and energy usage, and robotically notify owners of maintenance requirements, leading to reduced downtime and better operational efficiency.

Other trends
Besides responding to changing consumer preferences and market dynamics, laundromat franchisees have differentiated their business models to remain viable and relevant. Some laundromat franchises have embraced hybrid models, uniting conventional self-service laundromats with value-added services. For example, they may offer drop-off and pickup laundry services, dry-cleaning options, or a café area for customers to relax while waiting for their laundry. This has become rather popular in Europe and some parts of South-East Asia but is yet to pick steam in the Indian subcontinent.

As sustainability becomes more important to consumers, eco-friendly laundromats have garnered attention. These companies use eco-friendly detergents, promote reusable laundry bags, and prioritize water and energy conservation, thus catching the attention of environmentally conscious customers.

In the western parts of the world where larger laundromats are the norm, in order to make the best use of the available space, some laundromats have transformed into co-working spaces during idle hours. This innovative approach not only generates additional revenue but also attracts a diverse clientele, expanding the business’s reach beyond laundry customers. This remains a challenge for India where retail laundry is still micro-format and bigger laundromats are not viable due to the steep rentals.

Also, in response to explicit market demands, franchisees have discovered niche laundromats serving a particular demographic or sector. For instance, they have introduced pet-focused laundromats with specialized cleaning products or laundromats targeting high-end clientele with premium services.

The franchise industry is fast revolutionizing, led by ground-breaking technology adoption and the broadening of business models. Talking of laundromats, these trends have altered the old-style model into a contemporary and customer-focused experience. By leveraging technology, laundromat franchises have enhanced operational efficiency, enhanced customer convenience, and gained valuable insights into consumer behaviour. Moreover, diversification has allowed them to stay competitive, tap into new revenue streams, and meet evolving consumer preferences. As technology continues to transform, and customer demands change, it is important for franchise businesses, including laundromats, to stay alert, transform, and be receptive to evolving trends to succeed in this dynamic industry.


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