Kent Wales of Happy Laundry discusses his transition from laundry operator to business owner.  In addition Laundry 'Matt' and Kent Wales discuss three top tips on how to recruit and retain team members for your laundromat.

Stop working faster and harder.  At some point you can only work so much in a day before burning out.  Take some tips from Kent Wales on how to work smarter, by making yourself not essential to your business's operations

 

[TRANSCRIPT]

Speaker 1: (00:02)
Welcome to state of the laundry industry with laundry matt, episode 10, going from laundry operator to business owner. In addition, we're also going to be providing some top tips on how to hire in today's difficult hiring environment. This episode is part two, a B series, featuring Kent Wells of happy laundry. In the previous episode, we discussed tips on how to find top talent and retain the team members that you have. I always learn a lot, look talking to Kent, and I hope you enjoy the show without further ado. Here's Kent Wells from happy laundry.

Speaker 2: (00:38)
I've gotten so much information over the years, not only from other laundry owners, folks that I met in the CLA and in the business, people have talked to clean shows and got to know, you know, the biggest thing for me, I think is that I'm really personally trying to make a transition from an owner operator to a business owner. And that's a, you know, I've been in the business for 15 years. It's been in other businesses before this, but I don't want to spend my whole life being an operator. That's not my, that's not my job. And then, and honestly, that's not my skillset. The more I've thought about this, and this has been a huge personal growth thing for me, which is all right, what do I need to do to just be the business owner? How do I support my team? How do I empower them to make the decisions with the customers? And honestly, I don't really talk to customers much anymore about what's what we have folks to do, and you give them the power to resolve situations and, you know, drive it home and get me out of the, from being the sticking point to

Speaker 1: (01:36)
That is such a great point. You know, I remember, you know, I kind of grew up with entrepreneur. My parents were entrepreneurs and their parents were, I remember as a kid where one of my parents' friends said, how do you let your employees do this and this and this. And you know, my dad, you know, he did, he's good at delegating and also empowering people to make their own decisions. And instead of micromanaging. So you'll see two different types of owners. A lot of times he got the people who are saying, it's called task management, where do this, do this to this? And the other person is more, I think your style where you're empowering your employees to, you know, make your own decisions. And I think one of the keys to that is you have to allow them to make mistakes. You know, you have to be okay with that. Absolutely. And then they learned from that, you're allowed to look at the bigger picture because you're not micromanaging. And I think that's just a great philosophy,

Speaker 2: (02:23)
You know, it's interesting, interesting. You say that I was at a Dave Ramsey, uh, contrary. It was either entree leadership or I can't remember which point he into a couple of his things. And he was talking about his gay kids growing up. And as they were maturing and getting older and have more responsibilities, like giving them a little bit more rope and I've kind of switched that in my head and said, you know, that's really for our leads and our management team. So it does take time and you're investing time and effort into people to kind of show them how you want things done. But you do as they, as they mature as a leader, as they get more business experience, you want to give them a little bit more and more rope. And, and of course, if they, you know, betray your trust or, or they show that they can't handle it, you got to pull that back in. But, but that thought of giving people more responsibility as they earn it or demonstrate that they're, that they're good. And even, you know, how do they handle situations where they've made mistakes? Are they blaming other people or are they the type that goes, you know, I did this, I could've done it better this way. Here's how we move on through it and don't hold it against themselves.

Speaker 1: (03:29)
That's terrific. Well, one final thing, there's all, I feel like Columbia, there's like one last thing before the door closes. Right. And that was the pay range. I forgot to ask you about that before, which was, this helped us significantly and helped increase the volume of phone calls and interest in the job opportunities. So if you could explain the idea behind that and how that works.

Speaker 2: (03:51)
Sure. So on our, um, we've started out with this with honor third shift ad. So we've moved a lot of our residential wash tri-fold production to third shift. Uh, we're more of a two shift town there. I didn't think that there was going to be a lot of third shift applicants. So what we started to do was put the pay range or earn up to, uh, because we're paying our third shift folks a bonus based upon production and what they could potentially earn at that level. It is a part-time job. So they in three shifts a week. So they can, I mean, it's definitely a, uh, a big thing to add and it's usually after kids go to bed or right. You know, kind of in that timeframe. So we did find when we started putting that, what was possible in the title, we got a lot more applications that we could look through, you know, an applications is key to us.

Speaker 1: (04:43)
Yeah. So rather than just putting down a fixed dollar amount and Hey, this job pays you, you've got a range in there,

Speaker 2: (04:49)
That's the blue, do you, and, and we've tried both between your range and then like in our case, uh, $18 plus an hour up to, you know, so our kind of range for third shift is anywhere from, I think it's 15 to $21 an hour that they, they can kind of top out in the twenties. Is there a stellar production worker? So yeah, that, that really got a lot more interest. And we explain that to folks in the interview as well.

Speaker 1: (05:12)
Well, that's terrific. And you know, one thing I want to remind everybody about is, is paying for production. You know, I'd rather have a $20 an hour employee. Who's able to crank out a whole bunch of, you know, just as more productive than a $10 employer that, you know, it's like, well, I got a good deal on the hours, but what's the actual production per dollar. And, uh, that's something to always kind of keep them on.

Speaker 2: (05:34)
No worries. That was one thing I just want to add to, you know, we're, we're a long way away from we're over 10 years away from just having attendance. So we really have production workers now. And so it's a completely different mindset. Um, we're not just looking for somebody to mind the store and do a couple of orders. We're looking for them to, you know, again, they're cranking out a lot of laundry week after week after week.

Speaker 1: (05:58)
Yeah. I've got to work on my God, work on my vocabulary because words carry power and it changes your mindset. I noticed you used the term team member and I'm using the term attendant and, and you know, the, and that philosophy, you know, you change your language to reflect what you're thinking, and then it changes the way you think. And I think that's one of the reasons you've got such a great team on your side, you know, and you guys are just kicking butt. So, yeah, thanks again for joining us on the laundry podcast. I'd like to think Kent Wells for sharing his knowledge and wisdom with us on the state of the laundry industry podcast. Another thing that could help with employee retention, because that's so important because if you can retain your employees, you don't have to hire new employers unless of course you're growing.

Speaker 1: (06:44)
But that being said, one of our keys to success with employee retention is our tips. So if you could pay them more than that does help with retention. And one way of paying your employees more without costing you, anything is by collecting tips. So you can see right here about one third of our customers do tip and they do that through the curbside laundry is point of sale system for wash and fold and also a pickup and delivery. And on average, the out of all our customers are tip. They tip on average about 13 and a half percent. So in the month of September, you could see right here, 591 customers tipped. And we received a total of $4,660 in tips that came out of the customer's pocket, not ours. And as a result, we were able to pay our employees an extra dollar per hour for their, for their help.

Speaker 1: (07:39)
So that really makes our pay that much more competitive. In addition, there are a lot of nuances with tips. There's one way you got to collect the tips in store for wash and fold, but something unique to our software is it collects tips for pickup and delivery customers. And also for reoccurring, remember your reoccurring pickup and delivery customers are your best customers. They spend between like about 1700 to over $3,000 per year, if they're every other week or weekly respectively. So these guys spend thousands of dollars. They're your best customers, but how do they tip if they don't even have to log into the system into the software, you just show up there every week to collect their laundry. We have it all figured out we've saved their tip amount or their percentage. We get their opt-in and it's easy, and customers are doing it.

Speaker 1: (08:28)
And as a result of all our different ways of collecting tips, we're collecting a significant chunk of money that goes right to our employees and helps us with retention. So that's just one thing to consider. If you're looking at pickup and delivery, make sure to check out the curbside laundry software. And one thing I want to leave off with is in the previous episode, Kentwell said, we, when it comes to searching for new employers, nothing is off the table and something. And we took that to heart. And there's a place where we've found some really great employers in a place you wouldn't necessarily expect to. And that's with drug rehab centers, or even other halfway houses, people who their past is behind them. They're looking for a new opportunity and they're having, they're getting rejections everywhere. They're just looking for a job nine to five, where they could get there, get back into society and get a job.

Speaker 1: (09:24)
And, and that's something that we could provide. And these people may have had really high quality jobs in the past, and they just can't find that opportunity again. And so we're providing that stepping stone where they could get back into the fold and they could get back into, into the society. And they're just so thankful to have a job. And some of them are so high of quality. So will that work out longterm? Are they where they off the wagon? Now they're on the wagon, then they'll fall off the wagon. I don't know, but it has been working for us for some time. Um, it may be a place where if you're really looking, that could be a place where you could find some quality people who want to who need a second chance. It could be a win-win for both.