Join Laundry “Matt” and Jonathon Link from the Laundry Link for an in-depth conversation about Door Dash For Laundry Pickup & Delivery. Can you build your business on the gig economy? We also discuss the night time shift, customer retention, record breaking revenue, and more!
Introduction: Join me for part two of my conversation with Jonathan Link from The Laundry Link. We talk about everything from DoorDash for laundry, customer retention, the nighttime shift, record-breaking profits, and more.
Matt: I am curious as far as your thoughts on DoorDash for laundry pickup and delivery on Uber or DoorDash, you know, the gig economy because you mentioned that you’re out sometimes picking up the laundry or you’ve done that in the past, and I was just wondering what are your thoughts on outsourcing that to a third party?
Jonathan: You know, I guess if you’d asked me four years ago, I would have said, “Why isn’t there an Uber laundry?” There was UberEats at the time, and I was like, “Why isn’t there any Uber laundry?” But now that I’ve actually done it myself and had drivers going out there for the past couple of years, now I’m not a big fan. I just don’t think there’s any way that you can control the quality. They always say, “We have the companies that offer those services. We have the parameters in place to make sure that you aren’t going to have to worry about those things.” And I just… there’s too many variables. You also don’t get that personal interaction. There will be times where a customer will say something to the driver that gets back to me, “Hey, so-and-so did this or needs this,” and we’re there to serve them, right? The customer is always right. It’s the main launch right here. I don’t see how all the logistics could get handled through somebody just outsourcing that. It may sound great at the start where you have to worry about a driver, things like that, but I would tell you to get in your personal car and go out doing the driving.
Matt: People believe what they want to believe. Oftentimes, somebody’s saying, “Hey, this works, and you don’t have to worry about it,” people want to believe it, so they do believe it. I think the most important thing to know if something is true or not is peer referencing. Find somebody who’s successful doing it. I had a YouTube video about does outsourcing to ride-share companies make sense, so this is a laundry owner, and he responded, “DoorDash lost two of my customers’ laundry as well as continuous mistakes. I’m looking for a driver to replace them as we speak. It is so hard.” You know, I know you’re bringing in a lot of new customers because you’ve got a strong online web presence, and every single customer is so valuable. You know, they’re spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per year, and to lose them on a regular basis, yeah
Jonathan: I think the difference too is this is a very personal service, and this is your laundry that you’re taking care of, people’s laundry. And this is not, and actually, I have one of my staffers as a DoorDash person; she does the food even. She will tell you, “No, no, that’s not going to be a good plan.” They’re taking food out, you know, what if there’s a mistake with the food, “Hey, Mr. Customer, we’ll get on the phone, we’ll make you a new hamburger, we’ll have it sent right over.” And I have that problem. I’ve just lost several hundred dollars worth of your laundry. We have no idea where that is. It’s just too personal service.
Matt: I think the DoorDash drivers are turned off to the idea because they know that food is going into their cars, and when you’re driving around with a lot of dirty laundry, there’s sort of a sour acrid smell, and they’re probably not going to be too happy about that.
Jonathan: There’s many number of logistics that we could run through, I’m sure you’ve got some too, but, you know, we have picked up I’ve went to a customer’s house awesome picked up, you know, 250 pounds in one load. How is a DoorDash driver coming up in their little car? They’re going to look at that and go, “Oh my God. I partnered with DoorDash to do this.” No, I just… it seems like too many logistical it sounds like a good idea
Matt: Yeah, as soon as you start thinking about the details, that’s where it starts breaking down.
Jonathan: Everybody knew getting into this isn’t going to know all those details. Like I said, four years ago, I probably would have told you, “Hey, that sounds like a good way to do it.” Now I just don’t believe there’s any way, logistically. What happens if they get to an apartment complex and they get to a gate where they can’t get in the code, I mean, or they can’t reach the customer, there’s a simple one, I mean, any number of things.
Matt: They’re probably just going to go home, or I worry about them saying, “Well, here’s the laundry, I’m gone,” right? Yeah, the two dollars a mile didn’t cover that.
Matt: You visited Super Suds; that’s something we’re offering to clients which is Super Suds visits, and so you can kind of see our operations. So you visited out not once but twice, and I was just curious as far as what your takeaways were.
Jonathan: Certainly becoming a partner with the kind of investment that we’re talking about, my first visit out there was, are these people I want to get into business with? It was a critical point, come out and meet you and see your operation again. We actually had a Laundromat Software for Wash and Fold software for curbside that didn’t handle the pick and delivery; that’s why we ended up looking. That was another group; I believe they’re out of Oklahoma. Now, I forget their name, but they were also in the laundry business, which we thought was key. So we thought it was worth the investment to come out, see your operation, and it also helped us get a better understanding of, you know, without having that software, you know, to be able to play with it beforehand, we’d come out there, and you walk us through, here’s how we do it, here’s how we’re tracking through because that’s really what we were looking for was that what you were talking about earlier. It needs it tracked from start to finish, just so that we can keep tabs on all this laundry that’s coming through, even though we had no idea that we would do this amount of volume, to be quite honest.
Matt: It also illustrates the importance of being in the business because then you got to see how the software matched the laundry process, and there are a lot of nuances and details. I mean, I’ve seen it in some competitor software where the owner or the attendant wants to look at the order because they’re details they want to see, but as soon as they edit it, the customer gets a text message saying, “Oh, your order’s in the wash,” and they’ve literally had customers drive back to the laundromat. And I’m talking about in-store drop off; they drive back to the laundromat, say, “Hey, are you done with the laundry yet?” It’s like, it’s not magic. There’s no way it could have got done this quick or then maybe, you know. But just because if they’re in the laundry business, you know, you want to look at the order for different reasons, and these little details make a difference in the customer experience because if you drive all the way to the laundromat, it’s like, what are they paying for? They’re paying for convenience. If they drive there, want to drop it off, drive back to they think it’s ready, and it’s not, that’s a disappointment, and there’s a lot of those little details that make all the difference. I remember there’s one time… You had some staffing issues, and you we had to turn off the pickup and delivery, so we turned that button off on your website.
Jonathan: I was trying to black that out. Yes, I do remember that!
Matt: Yeah, I’m sorry, sorry about that, but and then once you’re ready and things got back to where there’s supposed to be, we sent a mass text message out to your clients because it comes down to your reputation and communication. And so when you’re ready, you had the right team in place, we said, “Hey, we’re back, ready for pickup and deliveries,” and it didn’t even skip a beat.
Jonathan: To earlier our other conversation here, that’s what it was all about. We didn’t want to disappoint the customers. We thought it was better to hold on, let’s just take a step here. I don’t know if it’s as bad anywhere else or I’ve heard some people say it’s worse than Georgia, but the worker shortage for us has been absolutely brutal. We’re barely able to keep up with the current volume, again, which is a great problem to have, but at that point, we thought it was better to take a step back. We don’t want to disappoint any customers because to your point, that online reputation and all those five-star reviews make the difference, and we didn’t want anybody going, “Well, I was supposed to have my laundry on Thursday, but now it’s Friday.” So it’s always, I think, better to take that step back and regroup if need be.
Matt: I think setting expectations for the customers, the communication, letting them know, “Hey, this is a temporary thing because customers are ordering from you. You’re their first choice because obviously, you’re doing a good job. It’s a very personal product, a lot of laundry customers. They got their first choice, and then they might have their backup, you know if they’re scheduled or they’re not able to, but you always want to be somebody’s first choice because that gives you the ability to bring them back into the fold, you know, back into the mix when you’re ready for their business.”
Jonathan: Yep, absolutely, and you know, we could work with a lot of our customers or such regulars we can work with them on timelines. But at that point, we’ve just felt a little better, take that step back for a moment, it didn’t take us long because we’re enjoying the phenomenal growth.
Matt: Where do you see it going? Because it’s a basic equation, keep the customers you have, and you keep adding new ones, and you’re living testament to that. I’ve talked to some people; they go, “We keep getting new customers, but our business is staying flat.” Well, that’s a retention issue. And then you could see the reverse, we’re retaining people, but we’re not getting new people, well, that’s customer acquisition. And so you’re doing both, you’re retaining, and you’re acquiring customers. So I don’t see any end in sight, but what’s the plan?
Jonathan: I don’t see any end inside either, that’s the good news. We’ve got the website that you all take care of that search engine optimize, so that’s taking care of that part. And then quality and meeting those customers’ expectations are keeping the customers that we have already. But honestly, I don’t see an ending sign. We cover a much larger area of Atlanta than most, I don’t think the Atlanta Market has even been scratched yet as far as the wash and fold pickup and delivery.
Matt: I hear that over and over from our clients and parents, and we feel the same way, no matter how much business we’re doing as individual laundromats, I hear it all the time like we’re just scratching the surface.
Jonathan: It’s really going to come down for us, it’s going to be handling the labor part of it. I just need to get more people. Our next goal, probably…Would be much like your story is going to the overnight crew, but again the hiring issue has been our biggest challenge.
Matt: You’ve got the space; it’s just a matter of if you’re operating at nighttime, that’s the neat part about pickup and delivery is you can never achieve that without bringing laundry to your location.
Jonathan: Absolutely. We currently have a two-day turnaround on our pickup and delivery. I’m not sure what yours is actually, but because we don’t have an overnight crew, we actually originally started a one-day turnaround; we had to move to a two-day just because of the sheer volume and the driver getting back later. So we don’t have that ability, so we moved it to two days, which I don’t think it’s cost us a lot of business. Again, we’ve set that expectation with the customers, your software has said if you want to do it on Wednesday, you’re going to be a Friday delivery.
Matt: It’s all about expectations and getting into the laundry pickup and delivery business. And just to wrap things up, what would you say to somebody who’s considering getting into pickup and delivery?
Jonathan: The service side of this industry is where it’s all going, people don’t want to do their own laundry, which works out well for those of us. If you’re considering getting a pickup delivery, I would say, don’t go in, dive into the deep end with the van, the wrapping, and everything that we talked about. You can start off somewhat slow, even if you were to, and I highly recommend the software because trying to do it on the Whiteboard was a nightmare. You can do things with your software, you could limit the mileage; there are several things you could do to make sure that you don’t get buried over on the laundry, but the main thing I would say is, get ready for the explosion in your business. Getting ahead of the eight-ball from a hiring perspective is, I think, probably the biggest challenge. And I have no doubt using the going to the pickup and delivery model is going to blow open your wash and fold business.
Matt: We’re at the point now where it’s like, if you’re opening up a pizza shop, you’ve got to do delivery. I mean, it’s going to be challenging serving pizza and competing when other places are meeting the customers at their home.
Jonathan: The other challenge is a driver will walk in the door and say, “Well, I just picked up 250 pounds from one customer,” which is great news. It’s going to break your back if you don’t have the labor there to take care of it, of course.
Matt: Yeah, so you want to make sure you’re properly staffed and sort of always be hiring. Make sure you’ve got the right team. Just want to thank Jonathan Link for being on the podcast, just tremendous growth over the years, and it’s neat to see the wash and fold and pick up and delivery growing and continuing to. You’ve got the opportunity for overnight Wash and Fold processing, and I’m just curious going back to the very beginning, just kind of wrap things up, how long did it take to really get going once you got the curbside laundries Wash and Fold solution?
Jonathan: Once we got curbside, it really revolutionized what we were doing. I was doing a whiteboard, and people were calling in. Now we’ve got it where it’s just a click-through process for customers creating their account online, which you all have improved immensely since that originally came out. But it’s made it so easy for a customer, we saw results almost immediately. That’s why I highly recommend the software.
Matt: Wise words. Thanks again for being on the podcast, and looking forward to your continued growth.