Many laundry owners who offer pickup and delivery debate between allowing their customer schedule laundry pickups using an app or allow customers to place order through their website. The answer is it depends if it is a first time or a repeat customer.

First off, the most important thing is to allow customers to order online. When is the last time you called a travel agent to book a flight? Millennials reading this may not even know that people used to call to book flight reservations. When we added a button to our laundromat’s website, our pickup and delivery business went up by 30%! It was transformative. So the fact that you are debating between an app vs web ordering shows you are on target. Either way, you will be much better off.

When I mention a website for online scheduling, I am talking about a smart scheduling tool, not a dummy form. Your customers know the difference between an intelligent scheduling tool versus a ‘contact’ form that allows them to schedule a pickup for yesterday. People filling out a dummy form have no assurance that someone will actually show up to pick up their clothes. An intelligent scheduling tool remembers who the customer is, remembers their laundry preferences, verifies credit card information, and has an intelligent calendar based upon the driver’s schedule and turn around times.

A lot of laundry owners feel they need an app, because we live in an ‘app world.’ It turns out the increased use of apps being reported is the result of people listening to Pandora or watching YouTube for extended periods of time. According to a new study by comScore, most smartphone users use only three apps frequently and devote over half their time using a single app [Study].

Let’s take a look at laundromats specifically and your website’s call to action. What do you want your customers to do when they get to your website? Do you want them to place an order or to go to the app store? You can do one, but you can't do both at the same time.

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Allowing customers to schedule a laundry pickup from your website is the most direct method. Laundromats spend tons of effort and money getting prospective customers to their website, the last thing they should do is to send away to an app store. Can you imagine if a customer is ready to place an order and you send them somewhere else? That’s bad for business.

By having an online scheduling tool on your website, a customer places an order directly and you make money. Placing the order is an impulse decision, they just tap ‘Schedule an order’. Downloading an app requires a lot of steps and cognitive decision making. To download an app, the customer first leaves your laundromat’s website and they may never come back. Before downloading an app, most people read the reviews first and look at the number of downloads. A bad vibe can send that prospective customer running. Or their phone may be filled to the brim with photos and slowing down and they don’t want to install more apps. If they still decide to download the app, they will need to open up the app and then tell the app who they are and create a user name and password. This does not always happen. Many laundry owners reports that people download the app and never create an account.

I have received numerous calls from laundry owners who use an app and they get complaints from their customers that the app does not always work. This is understandable, because there are so many different types of phones, different versions of operating systems, and different versions of the app. This three layer dip is bound to be unstable. Imagine your customer goes through all these steps to download the app and then six months later a new version of their operating system comes out and now their app stops working. This happens.

So why take the risk of having a laundry scheduling app when it can cause new customers to renege and can block existing customers from placing an order? One reason is ‘real estate’. There is value to having your laundromat’s icon on your customer’s phone. But what if you could get your laundromat’s website on your customer’s home screen? It turns out you can and it’s easy!

All a customer has to do is go to your laundromat’s webpage from their iPhone and tap ‘share’ and tap ‘add to home page’. If they’re using an Android, they tap the three dots in the top right corner of their browser and tap ‘add to home page’. That’s it! And now your laundromat’s website has a nice home on their phone. You have the best of both worlds!

You can customize the Curbside Laundries Software ‘new customer welcome message’ to teach your customers how to add your laundromat’s icon to their home screen. This way, a new customer can go online and place an order and they will also receive a welcome e-mail on how to make their next order even easier to place.