Many college and university students find themselves living on their own for the first time. This can be an exciting adventure and a chance to explore new places and try living independently. However, that independence means students do laundry a bit differently.
Understanding the lifestyles of the average college student can inform you how to bring in more customers throughout the semester as a laundry room owner or how to offer the best laundry services on campus.
College students will have an abundance of laundry to do while spending time away from home. Because some universities require them to pay for washing and drying loads, many times they wait until the end of the week to do their laundry. As a result, students will wash around three to four loads per week, spending approximately $9 to $12.
KU Student Housing at the University of Kansas found their on-campus residents did more than 90,000 loads of laundry during the school year, making KU almost $180,000 from student laundry usage alone.
Despite students’ large amounts of laundry every semester, many college residents struggle to understand the basics of doing laundry independently. College student and laundry statistics from Birmingham City University show that 60% of their students had rarely or never done their own washing before coming to school.
If your laundromat is near a university or close to student housing or residence halls, consider the potential of these customers. Every student will need to do laundry, and local laundromats can be a great resource to residents looking for a trusted laundry room.
Pay attention to the needs of the students. What are some of the college laundromat issues at their school? Are the laundry rooms too small, or are the machines often out of order? Do some students report that their clothes get stolen, or are the prices for a load of laundry too high?
Whatever the case, your facility can be an excellent option for students looking for a solution. You can also take advantage of a lot of untapped revenue. Consider adding detergent dispensers or vending machines to draw in your customers and maximize your revenue.
Students are often some of the busiest customers out there. Full-time students usually take anywhere from 12 to 18 credits worth of classes a semester. The hours spent on homework and studying for five classes or more can often take up most of the week. On top of this, many residents choose to work part-time to pay for college, volunteer, find an internship or participate in extracurricular activities.
More than 60% of students work at an internship or work part-time, so it’s no wonder that students might struggle to fit laundry into their schedules. Local laundromats can take advantage of this knowledge by understanding the average student and their unique schedules and lifestyles.
Consider making the laundry process faster and easier for local students by adjusting your facility hours or adding extra amenities to your laundromat. For example, many residents may only be available in the early morning or late evening, before classes start and after classes have ended. Students may also appreciate extra table space to do homework and reliable Wi-Fi to work on assignments while they wait for their laundry.
It’s no secret that many college students are strapped for cash. Consider the extra expenses like student loans, tuition or groceries, and the added payment of campus laundry may seem daunting. Laundromats can offer students giveaways and deals to lighten the financial load and keep customers returning to your facility.
Try offering daily coupons or deals through a mobile app or a service like Groupon. This may attract new customers who may like the idea of saving money while taking advantage of your facility’s unique amenities. You can also offer student discounts through a loyalty program or the student’s college ID. Programs can reward residents with items like free detergent or drying hours or even free swag with your logo.
Another great way to attract new students is through on-campus activities. Consider sponsoring a float in an upcoming parade or hosting a booth at a sporting event. Your employees can hand out coupons or fliers advertising the business and run games and contests to get the local students involved.
Other incentives may involve special referral programs or transportation offers. For students that want to save money, you can try offering them a special discount or free wash cycle if they refer a friend to your laundry facility. Many students may also struggle to find transportation. So, offering free pickup or delivery of their laundry may be a great way to involve those customers that want to use your machines but don’t have immediate access to them.
Today’s university students are tech savvy, often called “digital natives” because they grew up in a world of the internet and social media. As such, they are very comfortable searching for college laundry rooms on their phones, checking social media or downloading an app to pay laundry fees.
According to the Pew Research Center, 85% of Americans are online daily, with 31% continuously browsing apps and social media. Despite this knowledge, many small business owners still struggle to maintain or build a website that will attract these customers. Most consumers research a company before visiting the building or purchasing a product, so a good online presence is vital to your laundromat business.
Here are a few ways your laundromat can use technology to your advantage:
One of the best ways to take advantage of college students’ technical know-how is to build an app that allows students to pay for laundry services on their phones. For example, our Speed Queen App is available for smartphones and offers customized options depending on your university’s laundry program. Our app offers flexible payments and automatic notifications, making the laundry process fast and convenient.
College students trust the recommendations of their peers and university mentors. It may be helpful to partner with your local college to spread the word about your facility to more students. Many universities enjoy making deals with local businesses and restaurants to offer students discounts and get them involved in the community.
Consider putting an advertisement in the student newspaper or partnering with an on-campus club to promote your business. Many sororities, fraternities, sports teams and theater clubs will jump at the chance to incorporate your advertisements into their events in exchange for a sponsorship.
Another great way to get other students and university faculty to recommend your business is to show solidarity with the college. Show your school spirit by designing your laundromat with the university logos or colors. Consider hanging banners or posters and offering school-themed merch at your facility as a free giveaway.
Because college students are tech savvy, they’ll probably look up your business online to check out reviews. Encourage existing customers to leave your business reviews online, and make an effort to respond to reviews — both good and bad. This engagement shows them you care about the community, and it builds your business up as a recommended laundromat.
Caldwell & Gregory was founded in 1990 and is dedicated to providing colleges and universities across America with reliable laundry programs and technologies. Our company has partnered with over 300 universities to bring state-of-the-art technology and services wherever needed. We’ve even expanded to the multi-housing market and sell equipment to facilities like salons, hotels and laundromats.