Jonathon Link with The Laundry Link shares his journey into the laundry business. And how he quintupled his wash and fold revenue by offering pickup and delivery. He grew his business organically with practically zero advertising with the Curbside Laundries software and website solution.
Matt: So, I’m really excited to introduce Jonathan Link. He’s with the Laundry Link, and he has tripled his growth in wash and fold in just one year. And he quadrupled his growth in wash and fold in two years. And his growth is now five and a half times what it was just three years ago. So, I’m excited to hear your stories about how you’ve grown your business, what different challenges you have, and how you got into the laundry business. So, I’d like to introduce Jonathan Link and welcome to the podcast.
Matt: What brought you into the laundry business?
Jonathan: Sure, thanks for having me, Matt. This is so glad to be here. The big thing was I was in the corporate world and was looking to change my career, as a lot of people are, and was looking for a more passive income type situation where I didn’t have to go out and look for you and things like that. And I was lucky enough that my dad had a buddy in my hometown who owned one who did just a smidgen of wash and fold, just enough to keep some attendants on staff. And I said, “Okay, yeah, this is the business for me,” and even with the high capital cost, as everybody’s aware who’s probably watching, it’s been great. So, I’m lucky to be where I am .
Matt: With a higher capital cost getting into the business. Machines cost more, rent has gone up, and so a lot of people are saying, “You know, I’m going to buy this laundromat, and I’m going to be doing wash and fold right from the get-go.” Washing and fold is labor-intensive, so you’ve got those challenges, but I’m just curious as far as did you start doing wash and fold from the get-go, or when did you add that?
Jonathan: I knew initially we were going to do wash and fold just so that a fully attended laundromat is key to the business, providing that level of customer service. So, I always knew we were going to do wash and fold, so that was from day one. We started doing pickup and delivery kind of a soft launch about six months later, where I was driving around in a Honda Insight and using a whiteboard to manage my pickup deliveries. People were having to call in to get the service and talk to me. We wanted to kind of do it in stages, so we did the wash and fold immediately, but then we waited about six months so we could get our feet wet doing wash and fold because, like you said, the other part of this is, and one of the reasons I got into the laundry business is because I thought it was going to be less labor-intensive. While I knew wash and fold was labor-intensive, I didn’t realize how much we were going to need. So, we had some wash and fold right off the bat, and I had a staff member, I think I had two, within six months to help do that level of wash and fold for drop off. But then about six months later, we kind of got our feet wet, just using indoor signage, really, that said, “Hey, we’re offering pickup and delivery now.” Between that and just word of mouth, we had a few calls, and like I said, I was managing it on a whiteboard and driving around in my little Honda Insight, picking up laundry at people’s houses.
Matt: That’s great because a lot of people, they wait until they get the van, and they wrap it, and they get the shelves, and before you know it, they’re in for a lot of money and you grew organically.
Jonathan: Big on cash flow. So, it’s, for me, it was always a step-by-step process, and yes, I’ve heard of the same similar stories where people get, “I’ve got to have a van, I’ve got to have it wrapped,” and you really don’t have to dive in that heavily. We didn’t have, I don’t think we even had a full-size van until at least six months after we started doing wash and fold.
Matt: We started with Isuzu Troopers, yeah, it’s the same boat, personal vehicle, and everything worked out quite well. And another part, too, you kind of mentioned the self-serve versus passive income, and even then, it’s not really passive because great things happen in the industry, and you don’t have somebody there to take care of it, right?
Jonathan: I can’t stand all these ads that are “passive income,” it’s not, it’s not even on a coin-only. I’m not buying this “passive income,” it’s a good selling point, but no, it is, otherwise we’d all be doing it, right?
Matt: Exactly. And my feeling is if you’re in it, you should be in it, you know, meaning okay, we definitely want to have a fully attended laundromat because better reviews, better customer service, your reputation will be better, you know, it’s a race towards the top instead of a race towards the bottom. And then, as soon as you have the wash and fold, you might as well keep them busy, so it kind of one thing leads to another, and that’s kind of the secret to success.
Jonathan: It has been probably the biggest struggle, which is a good problem to have. We have just exploded with the amount of laundry that needs to get done. This is the part where curbside really gets to shine because we’re probably a perfect scenario for a test case, I guess for curbside. Literally, the only thing that has driven all this growth is organic word of mouth and the search engine optimization that we’ve done through the website. We still haven’t wrapped our van, but we don’t do any type of advertising—nothing, no advertising whatsoever. It’s literally all through my opinion, and it’s all through the website. Today, I had two brand new first-time customers from my pickup and delivery just today. I mean, it’s awesome.
Matt: That’s amazing. A lot of software companies, they just think software is everything, and the software is very important. I mean, we’re non-stop development, pedal to the metal, but it’s the whole package, and it’s constantly changing. We’re always learning stuff at our laundromat, Super Suds, and taking those lessons. Even the SEO is constantly changing, but we’ve got that first-hand A/B test casing, and then we’re providing the same knowledge that we’ve gained through it. So that way, you don’t have to spend your time dilly-dallying with testing. I mean, we even added features to Super Suds, such as a delivery fee, not because we wanted to, but simply so we could test out that feature on behalf of our customers, figure out the best way of implementing it, figure out best price points. There’s a lot of moving parts. You’ve got to be in the business.
Jonathan: I guess the other thing I would add to it that’s a little outside of that software is that’s helped us be successful is the quality. I would say I’m pretty rigid when it comes to the quality that we’re doing. So to keep that, and what you were talking about earlier, we work hard for those five-star reviews, and that’s our biggest driver. People walk in on a daily basis, hey, you know the only reason I came here was that your reviews were so good.
Matt: The entire reason we got into the software business was that it didn’t exist at the time. We were having customers how to find their clothes in the back room because we couldn’t find it. And so, in our software, we made sure everything is carefully tracked. We know every single order exactly what shelf it’s on. It goes much further beyond that, the entire customer journey. And we came to the conclusion if we’re going to continue growing at this pace, we’re going to be losing customers as fast as we’re getting them. Our online reputation is going to take a beating. Your online reputation is central to your business to attracting new customers. I can’t tell you the last time I went to a restaurant and didn’t check the reviews ahead of time.
Jonathan: My wife’s big on that as well. We get it on a daily basis. Somebody comes in and says, “I drove past this other laundromat to get here to do the wash and fold.” We don’t hear as much from the pickup and delivery customers because they’re remote, which is what they should be. It makes it with your own software. It makes it that easy. That’s probably been the biggest change too from when we originally started doing pickup and delivery. You need that click-through service to be able to do it. If there’s any effort at all, you’re going to lose a pickup and delivery customer.
Matt: That’s got to be easy, and we noticed also a 32 percent increase as soon as we made things easy, where they could schedule online. If you look at pickup and delivery, it’s actually been out for a long time, but it’s more recent, I’d say last 10 years that it’s really becoming more popular.
Jonathan: The clientele that we’re going after for this service is, I want to just click on it and be done with it, and it makes it easy for them. I wish they would all do everything online, but that’s not always the case.
Matt: It’s kind of like having an employer that’s always taking orders. You know, so they’re online, they’re making it easy, and that’s something really important to pay attention to: what does that online salesperson look like? Is it easy for the customer to place an order, easy to create an account? We just made things actually even easier for clients to create an online account. So they’re able to just enter their name, phone number, set their password, and boom, they’re in. We made it a lot less friction for new customers. We’re always paying attention to the customer journey, how do you make it easier for the end-user?