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Bag Those Profits Through Wash-Day-Fold! (Part 1)

Market to prospects who dislike laundry chore, crave convenience

PORTLAND, Ore. — Have you added wash-dry-fold service to your drycleaning operation? Why not? There’s evidence that wash-dry-fold can double up and bubble up your profits! Here’s how it works for some drycleaning business owners in Portland:


“People enjoy having that extra time to do other things instead of their laundry,” says David Poe, who co-owns Sun Brite Cleaners in Portland with wife Shelley, when describing the simple allure of wash-dry-fold service.

“We normally have a large amount of wash-and-folds each week,” adds Shelley. “We almost doubled our profit margin in the first year after taking over and adding the service.”

Let’s hear that again: “...almost doubled our profit margin.”

Everyone should be on board with the possibilities now.

“People are always surprised to hear we offer the service,” says David. “Usually, if they give us a try once, they keep coming back. They love not having to spend the time at home or at the Laundromat doing their own laundry.

“We usually offer same-day service on our wash-dry-fold services, so they usually run errands or go relax somewhere while we do it for them.”

Let’s review these profit-raking lessons:

No. 1: People don’t want to do their own laundry.

No. 2: People can run errands while the garment care operator does their laundry for them.

No. 3: People are surprised to hear dry cleaners offer wash-dry-fold service.

Those are three huge but simple, often overlooked or ignored, lessons to raise profits.

Your customers don’t want to do their own laundry, so there is a “captive” audience starving for someone to do the work (and earn their money). Your customers want extra time to run errands and do fun things instead of doing their wash, so there is an audience who is dying for convenience in their lives.

Finally—and this is really the key to everything—customers probably don’t know and don’t realize that your drycleaning business can do their washing, drying and folding for them.

So they need to be told of these services. Wash-Dry-Fold — put it on signs, on flyers, on your website. Add it to your emails and texts. Mention it when chatting with others. Shout it from the rooftops. Write it in the sky if you have to, but let prospective customers know you offer wash-dry-fold services.

Tell them you’ll do their laundry for them. All that is waiting in return is the chance to improve your profit margin.

“We took over our business, Sun Brite Cleaners in Portland, Ore., six years ago,” says David. “We have made a lot of changes to the business over the years, but we started with installing a 50-pound dryer.

“There was only a small 18-pound washer, an old utility press, a suzy, a puff iron that didn’t work, a 6-foot pipe hanging from the ceiling that was the only ‘slick rail’ here, the drycleaning machine, a spotting board, a tiny air compressor, a vacuum, and a very tiny electric boiler that didn't work most of the time.”

Most days, it was a huge challenge for them to accomplish anything, Shelley adds.

“We brought some hotel accounts with us and have added several more,” she says. “We actually market to everyone, but we have been adding more medical accounts as well.”

The Poes says their wash and fold business is going great and they’re adding more customers all the time. They say it’s one of the few services Sun Brite offers that isn’t part of the DEQ fees — that’s the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

“In Oregon, DEQ charges us ‘fees’ every year,” David says. “It is based on our yearly drycleaning revenue. There is a flat fee if there was ever any perc in the location. Then there is a percentage for revenue generated for dry cleaning. We are not charged anything for laundry, and wash-and-fold services revenue, so that is something we are trying to build up even more.”

Sun Brite Cleaners wants to let the world know of their wash-dry-fold services.

“We have it posted on our website, posters in the windows and signs hanging from the ceiling,” says Shelley. “However, word of mouth has been our best advertisement tool. We have had more new customers tell us that ‘so-and-so recommended you to me.’”

Needed supplies are pretty nominal overall.

“Initially, you have the cost of bags, detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets if you use them,” David says. “But they are usually bought in bulk, so cost is pretty low. Likewise with the labor, it doesn't take very long to wash-dry-fold a load of laundry.”

The Poes want to leave you with a couple of tips: Just as you do with garments you’re dry-cleaning, always check pockets—and don’t be surprised by what item you might find—and separate lights, darks and colors because you never know what will bleed and create a new mess to clean up.

And use your phones to stay in touch with customers: “We use our phones for our routes,” Shelley says. “Customers call, email or text when they need a pickup and we call, text or email back to schedule a drop-off.”

Gee, the Poes really seem to like making money! They double up — and bubble up — profits by offering wash-dry-fold service and then making sure everyone knows that in addition to dry cleaning, they can do their laundry, too.

Coming Tuesday: Gettin’ down in Abilene with A-Town Cleaners

Wash-Day-Fold: It’s In the Bag

Shelly and David Poe, owners of Sun Brite Cleaners, say their business receives a large amount of wash-and-fold orders each week. The couple say they almost doubled their profit margin in the first year after taking over the business and beginning to offer the service. (Photo: Sun Brite Cleaners)

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].