Subscribe for more clothing care options (Part 1)

CHICAGO — When business owners can make their workflow more predictable, they can better plan staffing, supplies and equipment usage.

When customers can make their daily tasks easier, they can have more time to do what they need to do – or what they love to do – without worrying about the drudgery of routine tasks.

For some dry cleaners and their customers, their wishes intersect through subscription programs.

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Lisa Brooks, owner of a Mulberrys Clothing Care franchise in Minneapolis-St. Paul and her husband, Chris, explain that subscription services were already part of the business when they bought the franchise in 2020. She believes in keeping the process simple for both the cleaner and the consumer, by choosing to charge by the bag rather than by the pound. .

“We tried to make it a very user-friendly service,” she says. “People don’t usually know how many pounds of laundry detergent they have. With bags, they can get a good idea of ​​how much laundry they want to do. In most cases, the plans are four bags per month, which equates to about one per week, but they can use them at any rate they want.

In addition to stores in Minnesota, the Mulberrys chain has franchise stores in San Francisco, where customers have more quickly adopted a subscription plan.

“When we bought the business, there weren’t a lot of customers in Minneapolis using it, but the California branch at the time had a pretty big subscription service for washing and folding” , explains Brooks. “It’s only just starting to pick up steam in Minneapolis, and it’s grown significantly since we took over the business.”

For Kermit Engh, owner of Fashion cleaners in Omaha, Nebraska, the search for increased activity during the pandemic marked the path that led to subscription services.

“Right after COVID started, we got pretty aggressive in offering a wash/dry/fold program to customers, and one of the decisions we had to make — that every cleaner who does this has to make — is whether how are we going to charge for this do we do it per pound or per bag we chose to do it per bag because we didn’t have to worry about having certified scales that would have to be checked every year by the government.

Benefits for the customer

Subscriptions are popular with his customers, Brooks believes, because they give them back the one thing they simply can’t produce anymore: time.

“The subscription is ideal for people who really want more free time and are looking to outsource their tasks,” she says. “Laundry is a huge time-consuming chore and requires you to be at home. This service was really designed to make life easier for our customers and allow them to have free time to do what they want to do.

Brooks says this type of service also helps with household accounting: “Subscriptions are easier to budget for from a customer’s perspective because if you’re a subscriber, you know what it’s for the month. They took care of their laundry and they have a regular schedule.

“At the start of COVID, we also focused on selling the idea of ​​safety and cleanliness,” says Engh. “We were able to provide laundry disinfection at a commercial level to owners. Today, however, we’re focusing on time and convenience, because that’s really what we’re selling.

Both Brooks and Engh find that those taking advantage of their subscription services span a wide demographic.

“We have two-working families and young families, but we also have a decent senior market,” says Brooks. “If seniors are staying at home, but their laundry is in the basement, or if it becomes cumbersome or difficult for them to do it themselves, we definitely have a segment there. We also have working singles – people who, again, would rather do something else with their time if they work long hours.

“For us, it’s mostly working couples and high earners, but we have a lot of singles,” says Engh. “He’s someone who values ​​time over money – and that could be a lot of different people. Again, who likes doing laundry? »

Benefits for the cleaner

With a properly designed and operated subscription service, dry cleaners can also realize their own benefits.

“One of the benefits of having customers on a subscription plan is that they’re ‘more loyal’ customers,” Brooks says. “Once you subscribe, you have really purchased this service. It also helps to better forecast demand and plan staffing. When you know you’re going to have a certain amount of pickups or bags coming once a week or twice a week, you can better recruit for that. »

There are also long-term benefits, Engh believes.

“Subscription services add great value to a business,” he says. “The more routine subscription money that comes into your business, the more valuable it is. This is an area where dry cleaners can add value to their business by providing a service that they already offer, but treating it differently – as a subscription as opposed to a one-time service.

“Household linen professionals have known this for years. That’s why everything they do is under contract. It’s a bit different, but it’s an auto-billed service, so it becomes a stable revenue stream for the operator and an asset for the business.

Check back Thursday for Part 2 of this series, where we’ll look at ways to set up a subscription service for success.

(Photo: © Gajus-Images/Depositphotos)

Michael O. Stutler