Five Stars. It’s a term reserved for the finest of restaurants. It’s the rating synonymous with the most luxurious of hotels. It’s the phrase film critics unholster only for the “Citizen Kanes” of the silver screen world. No doubt five stars is the ultimate measure of quality…the best of the best.
That was the driving force for John Pinnock in developing his Baltimore-based Laundry City business.
“I wanted this to be a true five-star laundromat,” Pinnock said. And don’t try to sway him that the terms “five-star” and “laundromat” historically have not been paired together. Pinnock knows the traditional view of laundries as dark and dingy was a major hurdle, but he wasn’t backing down from his charge.
“My goal was to change the mentality… to make this a place people want to come to and stay,” he said.
Educated in laundry at an early age
One could say Pinnock’s vision for the laundry started at an early age, or at least he understood the need the business is based on. Attending a boarding school, it was incumbent upon students to look their best, and clean clothes obviously were a major part of that.
“It was always important to have clean clothes. It was ingrained in me at a young age,” he said.
While the seeds of the business may have been planted at a young age, they didn’t fully take root until a couple years ago…and germination is a process the certified arborist knows a little something about.
“I’ve always been fascinated with the laundry business,” he said, adding that what he found attractive is that it doesn’t come with the labor headaches most other ventures do.
“I’ve been in my own business for 30 years and the biggest challenge is always labor.”
In planning his top-of-the-industry store, Pinnock knew he had to have the laundry equipment to deliver five-star results, and that was a no-brainer.
Growing up in Jamaica, he was quite familiar with the Electrolux brand and its reputation for quality. Pinnock, however, performed his due diligence and had many in-depth conversations with current store owners about their experiences with Laundrylux and Electrolux. Machine quality and efficiency was a huge part of the equation. The other half was if the brand delivered on its service promise. Pinnock was happy to find out, it did.
“They have a culture of customer service that puts me at ease,” Pinnock said. But the Electrolux brand brings much more to the table.
“No other brand compares to Electrolux Professional,” shares Pinnock. “The innovation, quality, and reliability are incredible. In addition to the text messaging, Electrolux washers have a unique feature called Automatic Water Savings (AWS) that automatically adds the correct amount of water to match the load size. This saves me over 30 percent on water.”
The game changer
So what does Laundry City, the store billed as five-star facility, look like? Well for starters, it’s big…10,000 square feet big!
Within that celestial body of space is a 250-square-foot kids play area and of course, 300 Electrolux Professional washers and dryers. The laundry’s lounge features classy elements never seen in this industry, such as a coffered ceiling and crown molding.
And while plastic furniture may be fine for a one-star facility, “The World’s Cleanest Laundromat,” as it states on the building, boasts leather furniture inside its 400-square-foot adult lounge. Pinnock felt it was important to “take it up a notch” and create a sizable quiet, warm, inviting area for customers to gather and utilize Laundry City’s free wi-fi.
Add in large flat-screen televisions seemingly everywhere you look, and it’s clear Pinnock was fully invested in his effort to make this a premiere destination.
“I wanted to take the chore out of the laundry task,” he said.
Powered by technology
Laundry City also puts advanced technology to use to further meet customers’ needs. Electrolux Professional washers and dryers have unique features engineered to reduce water consumption and gas usage, while delivering the best wash and dry results in the shortest amount of time possible.
That customer experience is made even easier with Text Messaging technology. With this innovative Electrolux feature, customers can start their washer and are free to walk away to run errands or just relax. The washer will send them a text message when the cycle is nearing completion.
If you’re still not convinced that Laundry City’s commitment to customer servic, is close to five stars, think again. This store clinches a five-star rating with chauffeur service. That’s right, Laundry City offers shuttle service from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day. And if it’s not enough that drivers will pickup and dropoff customers, they’ll even help them cart their laundry in and out of the store.
“It’s very well used,” Pinnock said, “we have three drivers and the shuttles are running virtually nonstop.”
It’s clear Pinnock takes great pride in not only providing his customers with exceptional laundry service – he also gives back to his community. The store partners with homeless advocates to provide free wash and dry services, while also underwriting neighborhood cleanup activities, and sponsoring youth sports teams.
With his commitment to the city of Baltimore, it’s only fitting that dignitaries such as the Mayor, Congressmen, and members of the business community were on hand, along with representatives from Laundrylux and Electrolux, for a five-star grand opening and ribbon cutting.
For Pinnock, it was gratifying that the community has backed his vision.
“I was happy to see a strong turnout from the community,” he said, adding that it was a reflection of the city’s support from the start of his investment in the neighborhood.
With five competing laundries in the Tacoma, Washington area, Susie Boyd knew exactly how she was going to make her laundromat, Mr. Bubbles, stand apart from her competitors and win over clientele – by creating a sparkling clean laundry environment.
Susie’s ideal laundromat vision came to her quite effortlessly; she just kept on thinking – what kind of place would I want to would to do my laundry in?
“That was the easy part,” shared Susie, “I would want a good location with ample parking and the best equipment, of course. I also would want a laundromat to have a comfortable atmosphere, friendly customer service, and to be clean.”
Retooling instead of building from scratch
After looking at more than 20 stores, Susie chose the perfect one that held true to her vision of the right location with lots of parking. It also came at the right price. “I liked the idea of retooling an existing store since it would be less expensive than building something new,” explained Susie. “Most of the utility work was already in place, plus, it had a small but solid customer base so the ramp-up time would be shortened as well.”
Susie gave the store a complete overhaul – from replacing all the outdated equipment, to installing energy efficient lighting, to altering the layout of the 2,000-square-foot space to maximize every inch. “We needed to accommodate the larger Electrolux Professional laundry equipment and make better use of the space,” said Susie.
In addition to the super-fast and superior cleaning and drying power of Electrolux equipment, aisles were opened up, and a roomy folding area was created. The picnic-bench seating lends just the right touch, creating an appealing ambiance while giving customers plenty of room to sit and read, or take advantage of the free Wi-fi.
Now, just how clean is clean for this former owner of a commercial janitorial company and self-proclaimed “clean freak?”
“Well, I’ve installed hand sanitizers throughout the store,” chuckled Susie. “And I guess you could say our motto is ‘Always Be Cleaning’. I’ve personally trained our attendants to keep the entire store spotless at all times, ensuring a fresh, clean space for our customers.”
The perfect marriage – a mix of industry expertise and, well, marriage
As a first-time store owner, Susie knew she needed a laundry expert to help her re-tool and re-launch her store. She also knew exactly who to turn to – the 22-year veteran in the self-service laundry business who just happens to be her husband – Rich Boyd.
“Rich has designed, installed and sold some of the finest large coin laundries in Southern California and Arizona,” said Susie. “He also ran an office in Albuquerque primarily selling OPL washers and dryers to the hospitality industry, so even if Rich wasn’t my husband, I’d be breaking down doors to work with him. His working knowledge about choosing the right equipment mix alone is proving invaluable to the success of Mr. Bubbles.”
And how was it for Rich working with his wife on the creation of Mr. Bubbles?
“We make a great team,” said Rich. “Susie’s heard me talk endlessly about the laundry business for years and has seen many of the new stores that I had a hand in building. Actually, her commercial janitorial company was responsible for many of the new-store clean-ups. Susie has an excellent understanding of this business and was clear about what she wanted in her laundromat.”
It comes as no surprise that the only laundry equipment choice for Susie and Rich was the Electrolux professional brand. “I could not be an Electrolux and Wascomat distributor, much less recommend these products to my wife of all people, if I didn’t believe they were absolutely the best washers and dryers in the business,” said Rich matter-of-factly.
Susie couldn’t agree more. “We didn’t even discuss it, we didn’t have to,” added Susie. “Electrolux Professional laundry equipment has a proven record in durability and offers the largest energy savings. Choosing Electrolux equipment was by far the easiest decision we had to make.” Electrolux washers are the most innovative on the market with Automatic Water Savings (AWS) for lowest water consumption and Compass control for easy programming.
For dryer selection, the couple went with high-performance Electrolux Stack Dryers. “The Electrolux dryers have a larger capacity than competitive models,” shared Susie. “They use less energy and dry faster. The reversing cylinders also reduce energy consumption, and protect against wrinkling and tangling.”
The Electrolux dryers also come with a unique innovation called EcoPower, which can save you up to 15% on gas. This unique technology determines when garments are dry and then automatically lowers the dryer temperature. With EcoPower, there’s less wear-and-tear on garments and no over-drying. Electrolux Professional stack dryers also have the best lint filter in the industry. “Our attendant pulls the filter forward and gently swipes his or her fingers across the lint filter,” said Rich. “That’s it. It’s amazing that something so small can be such a huge time saver.”
Another easy equipment decision for Susie was installing a card system that works with all payment types. “Some of our competitors have card-only equipment, which isn’t a convenient option for every customer,” said Susie. “Mr. Bubbles has a loyalty card just like the competition, but we also accept credit and debit cards, and, of course, coins.”
Susie knew her husband wasn’t the only family member she could depend on to make Mr. Bubbles a success – she knew she could count on her son, Wesley, as well.
“Actually, he was the main reason I wanted to get into the laundry business in the first place,” shared Susie. “Wesley is 17 and has a brain disorder. As a parent of a special needs child, I regularly found myself thinking about his future.”
Susie wanted Wesley to be financially secure, but more than that she wanted him to enjoy his work. “Don’t we all want that?” posed Susie. “Wesley has a loving spirit and an outgoing personality. I felt that this business would be a wonderful fit for him.”
Wesley helps Susie empty lint filters, refill the snack-vending machines and, his all-time favorite task – sort out the bills from the change machine. He also takes great pleasure in talking to his customers. “I’m so happy he’s learning so much and having a good time doing it,” said Susie, smiling. “We go to the store every Sunday. It’s become our family tradition.”
After Wesley completes his schooling in the next few years, he’ll begin working full-time at Mr. Bubbles. One day, he will be its owner.
“I feel so blessed to be his mom,” shared Susie. “I learn from him every day. Wesley keeps me grounded and focused and has given me courage to take on any challenge, like opening a laundry.”
Leaving her competitors in the dust
Since renovating and reopening its doors in February 2013, Mr. Bubbles has experienced astonishing growth. “We just past 500% of what it was doing before we took it over!” exclaimed Susie. “And I can still recall the excitement of Grand Opening day.”
“We ran a month-long special discount on our washers, which proved to be a big hit,” said Susie. “The store was bustling thanks to Google Ads, a social-media push, and good old fashioned word-of-mouth. We also mailed out 2,000 preloaded loyalty cards to people who lived in neighboring apartment buildings.”
However, the most gratifying experience for Susie was donating preloaded loyalty cards to a local church to distribute to those in need. “The biggest benefit in giving back is that is makes my heart feel good,” shared Susie.
Today, the response from the community continues to be overwhelmingly positive. So much so that Mr. Bubbles recently received the 2014 Best of Tacoma Award in the Laundromat category.
Each year, the Tacoma Award Program identifies local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community. These exceptional companies help make the Tacoma area a great place to live, work, and play.
“With five laundries within a mile of each other, being selected for this award was an incredible honor for us,” shared Susie.
Susie is beyond pleased that her cleaning obsession, as well as the superior Electrolux Professional laundry equipment and friendly service, are being so well received. “I think we’re on to something here, she shared. “ I am so looking forward to what comes next.”
Electrolux Professional announces Energy Star® qualification on larger models, providing customers with more solutions and greater flexibility.
New ENERGY STAR qualification demonstrates Electrolux Professional’s continued commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency.
Electrolux Professional Laundry, distributed in North America by Laundrylux, recently announced that its range of High Spin Washers which have earned Energy Star ratings has now been increased to include washers up to 45 lb. capacity.
Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Established in 1992 to help save money and protect the environment it provides customers with guidelines on energy efficient products and practices. The strict conditions that a product must fulfill before qualifying for the government-backed label are reliable insurance that the product contributes significant measurable energy savings.
Reducing energy consumption and pollution while strengthening the economy are compelling ambitions of the Energy Star program. By producing equipment that fulfills all the Energy Star specifications, Electrolux Professional meets these ambitions and is therefore not only passing energy savings on to its customers but also actively taking part in reducing greenhouse gas emission thus contributing to important health and environmental benefits on a global scale.
Smart, green and economical
The Electrolux High Spin Washers (H series) have been shaped with contributions from users and experts in the professional laundry field all over the world. Their insights and know-how helped drive improvements in laundry equipment mechanics, ergonomics and design all the while ensuring energy-efficiency and sustainability.
“We are very proud that now an even larger range of our laundry equipment solutions is part of the ENERGY STAR® program” says Esther Staskiewicz, Head of marketing at Electrolux Professional (Business Unit Laundry Systems). “As part of our company philosophy we invest significantly into sustainable product development leading to exceptional solutions that are environmentally friendly and save our customers up to 70 percent on utilities.”
Electrolux’s High Spin professional washers combine technology with green thinking and low running costs. Durability, robust construction, and high performance set the machines apart. They are designed to respect the environment at every point of production usage and disposal. Products are built to be 95% recyclable. All of these factors exemplify Electrolux Professional’s commitment to continued sustainability.
Electrolux H-series provides your laundry with real savings and improvements in three crucial areas: time savings, enhanced economics, and flexibility.
- Time savings: Electrolux’s High Spin Washer can complete a wash and dry cycle in less than 50 minutes without compromising the quality of the wash results. Coin laundry customers appreciate the time savings and superior results, coin laundry owners have the ability to serve more customers and generate more business, and on-premises laundry operators save time and money while increasing production.
- Economy: Its unique efficiency means using less water and energy for wash and dry cycles. This can help lower laundry operational costs by up to 70 percent while cutting the environmental footprint. Automatic Water Savings (AWS), unique to Electrolux Professional washers, adjusts the water level to the weight of the laundry, meaning up to 30% in water savings for half load, as well as energy savings since less water needs to be heated. Another unique Electrolux feature, Eco Power for dryers, measures when garments are dry and automatically turns the heat down to the cool-down temperature, resulting in up to 15% in energy savings. In addition, Electrolux Professional dryers come standard with reversing cylinders which also speeds up the drying process, saving time and energy.
- Maximum flexibility: Ergonomics, performance, safety, and labor effectiveness are key factors in Electrolux designs. The user-friendly Compass Pro® interface is intuitive, intelligent as well as easy to use, and available in 20+ languages. Compass Pro® is the intelligence inside the H-series washers that enable Electrolux to provide customized laundry solutions for every kind of business including vended / coin laundries, hotels, hospitals, firehouses, schools, nursing homes, restaurants, sports teams, and more. There are up to 55 programs available, of which 15 are customizable. The Compass Pro® interface also features a USB port to facilitate installation of the latest software updates and a real-time clock for time of day pricing or delayed start (Smart Start).
Want to learn more about Electrolux Professional H-Series washers and how they can help you lower your expenses and improve your profitability? Click here to read an article about Connie Ihrke, owner of Belmont Coin Laundry. Her utilities are only 9-11% each month and she saved more than $25,000 in construction costs by installing Electrolux soft-mount H series models.
Electrolux Professional is a leading global supplier to the hospitality, healthcare, and vended / coin laundry industries providing professional kitchen and laundry equipment solutions. With the most comprehensive range of machines for food preparation and preservation, dishwashing, and professional laundry systems, Electrolux is a brand synonymous with reliability, innovation and sustainability. It has 90 years of experience and a portfolio of products designed according to the strictest quality, safety and sustainability standards. Electrolux Professional is recognized worldwide for its social and environmental performance and its product lines meet and exceed international standards. In 2012 Electrolux Professional had sales of about $900 million, approximately 2,600 employees, 7 factories, over 1,000 distributors and almost 2,000 service partners located in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit the web site: http://www.electrolux.com/professional