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The Wage Is The Rage

by Jim Schultz September 28, 2015 0 Comments

It's a near daily occurrence when I speak to my laundromat clients; What to make of proposed wage hikes that have dominated headlines nationwide. In many markets, including ours here in Chicago, rising wages are a reality. This inevitably brings about a stream of worry from service based business owners. 

As a business owner, I very much understand the desire to keep all expenses, including wages, down. In this case it's not going to happen. Wages, especially in large urban areas, need to grow.  I am of the mind that the best owners will take this situation and use it to their advantage.  Let's ask ourselves how we can take a potential negative and use it to help grow our businesses.

1.  Get Out In Front. Hire Better People. Pay More.
Instead of a revolving door for less than stellar talent, advertise a higher wage. It's not crazy. There are so many hidden costs that small employers ignore when hiring. Paying more than average market rate will allow you to find more reliable employees that are more apt to show up on-time, call off less, and be able to handle more responsibility. Also, let's not forget your employees are the conduit to your customers. An employee that is well paid is much more likely to be a great ambassador for your laundry.  Happier clients lead to more money in your pocket.

2.  Fire Up The PR Machine

In general, laundry customers are lower wage earners. Use the rising tide of support for higher service wages to show that you are on their side. Signage can say something to the effect, "We support a living wage for all service employees, including our own!"  Many of your clients are probably tired of working for a low minimum wage. Paint yourself as someone who supports their efforts. When the time comes that you need to raise prices your customers will have a better understanding of why you can't be a charity laundromat.

3.  Cut The Fat

If you pay more you need to get more. It's that simple. Many laundromats have attendants that aren't earning their money. You keep them around because it's easier than finding someone else. Get rid of them. Find someone who values the job and goes the extra mile to make your business better. It's a perfect opportunity to purge your operation of employees that aren't earning their keep. Don't let their poor habits and attitude infect the rest of your new higher paid staff.

Business today is a climate of adapt or die. Think critically, adapt, and you will succeed in most situations and this is no different. Look at the positives. You will have hundreds of customers who have more money to spend at your laundry.  Find a way to grab it.

If you have comments or feedback I'd love to hear from you.

Jim Schultz
Jim Schultz


Jim Schultz is the President of Midwest Laundries Inc.