Typically, December is a time to pause, look back and take stock of your life and your business. It’s normally the perfect opportunity to reminisce about the 365 days goneby (366, in this case) – and to try topredict what the next 365 have in store. Not this year! No way! Good riddance to thedumpster fire that was 2020. I thinkwe can all heartily agree. However, let’s not turn the page before acknowledging a few genuine silver linings to emerge from the gray skies of this past year… Laundromat operations have never been better – and they’re only getting stronger. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, successful laundry owners naturally have increased the overall hygiene and cleanliness of their stores well beyond what they’ve ever beenbefore. Inaddition, many operators have upped their technology games – adding cashless payment options, ozone injection, etc. – while all laundry owners have been forced to refocus and double their efforts with regard to staff training. What’s more, with necessity being the mother of invention, many laundry entrepreneurs chose to diversify their businesses in 2020, adding new wash- dry-fold and/or pickup-and-delivery services to their product mixes. This all bodes well for the future of the business. There has never been a better time to givebacktothecommunitiesyouserve. Laundromats have long been the social
hubs of the neighborhoods they serve, and this year, like never before, those communities needed safe, welcoming, interactive spaces for their residents to tackle the necessary chore of doing the family laundry. To that end, the LaundryCares Foundation welcomed nearly 900 store owners, librarians, educators and philanthropists to its 3rd annual LaundryCares Literacy Summit, which was a three-day virtual event held in September, focused on delivering early childhood literacy opportunities through laundromats nationwide. LaundryCares continues to thrive, grow and develop creative ways in which store owners can reach out and truly give back to the local customers who support their businesses. There have never beenmore tools available to help you build your laundry business. This month, I had the pleasure of interviewing TimMcNichols, who serves as the executive director of partnerships for LIG Solutions. The Coin Laundry Association recently teamed up with LIG to offer CLA members, as well as their families and employees, access to exclusive healthcare insurance coverage. This is part of CLA Business Solutions, a suite of products and services developed to help laundry businesses become more successful. Also new to CLA Business Solutions is Atmosphere TV, the world’s first and largest streaming TV platform, which offers laundry owners an opportunity to eliminate cable television (and the costly
monthly bill) and provide a unique video platformthat offersmore than40 channels of content to fit any laundry business. In addition, the CLAprovides programs geared toward helping laundry owners save money on their energy costs; digitally market their businesses; and obtain themost accurate, comprehensive demographic reports available. Laundromats are indeed“essential.” At the very outset of the virus outbreak, as businesses were beginning to receive mandatory shutdown orders, the CLA knew there was no way laundromats could be closed during this most critical time – not businesses that meet such a crucial need and are indeed a part of the very fabric of the fragile communities many of them serve. With tireless lobbying efforts and some well-placed legislative connections, the association was able to achieve an “essential”designation for laundromat services all across the U.S. Clearly, this was a huge victory for an industry that has long-touted itself as being recession-resistant. This year, all of you have proven that the laundry business is quite pandemic-resistant as well. So…has 2020 sucked? Yes, without a doubt. But maybe – just maybe – it has set the wheels in motion for bigger and better things to come for the laundromat industry in 2021 and beyond.
Bob Nieman is the editor of PlanetLaundry magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.