Commercial laundry equipment manufacturer Huebsch® has named Teddy Galloway the latest recipient of its Store Owner of the Quarter award. Since buying his first store in 2002, Galloway has not slowed down in building a stable of 10 locations in Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee.
“Teddy is a prime example of what success in the laundry business looks like,” said Kathryn Rowen, North American sales manager for Huebsch. “He has selected the right locations, worked extremely hard, and kept the focus always on providing an excellent customer experience. He is the kind of owner we are proud to work with.”
Galloway is a strong believer in everything happening for a reason, including the serendipitous meeting with his laundry equipment distributor, Stan Bradley at Laundry Systems of the Carolinas. He was visiting a sandwich shop over his lunch, when a friend hollered and waved him over to introduce him to Bradley, who was discussing a laundromat retool with the friend. A week later, Galloway became interested in buying that laundromat and Bradley was his first call.
Since that first meeting, Bradley has become far more than a distributor supplying Huebsch equipment to Galloway as he grows his portfolio of stores; he has become a trusted friend.
“It’s more like an unwritten partnership,” Galloway said of the relationship with Bradley and Laundry Systems of the Carolinas. “Whenever I have needed something, they have gone out of their way to help. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Laundry Systems.”
Galloway has grown his business both by retooling existing stores as well as through new construction. On both fronts, Huebsch equipment and Huebsch Financial Services have been trusted allies.
Previously, he worked in the engineering department of a coal company, but when his business grew to four locations, he decided to leave his job and focus on the business full-time.
Half the stores in rural locations are open 24/7, while the other city-based businesses are open 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. All, however, are customer-focused as Galloway’s goal is to create a family-friendly atmosphere, where his customers get the “biggest bang for their buck.” That includes an emphasis on “big” machines. More than 50 percent of the washers (and 100% of dryers) in his stores are of the large, multi-load variety because “that is what customers want and look for.”
While Galloway is quick to point out there are no guarantees in this business, the support of his family (wife, Amy; and sons, Ethan and Thomas) has helped make him successful, along with the partnership of Bradley and Laundry Systems of the Carolinas.
He also has a well-defined plan when purchasing existing locations, noting that so many have been run into the ground and perpetuate a bad image of the industry. He focuses mostly on the location, knowing that equipment will need to be swapped out. Typically, he re-tools stores within three to four months after purchasing. The upgrade to new equipment usually has the same result – new equipment brings in new customers. This formula frequently leads to one of two equal and opposite reactions by his local competition. In the face of Galloway’s well-run businesses which includes more large- capacity machines that gets customers out the door faster, the competition either upgrade their own stores or fold up shop.
While Laundry Systems of the Carolinas may take the lead in installing the machines in those re-tools, Galloway likes to get his hands dirty as well. His mechanical abilities, developed by helping his father in his auto repair business, have helped him pick up working on his laundry machines fairly quickly. Galloway also credits that willingness to spin a wrench on his Huebsch equipment to conduct routine maintenance as important to his success as an owner.
Much of Galloway’s success can be attributed to the loyalty of his customers, which is driven by a focus that puts the customer first, including creating a family-friendly environment. Galloway has zero tolerance for bad language or loitering, and even the televisions are set to family-friendly programming.
“I want customers to feel safe, comfortable, and welcomed,” he said, adding that by doing the little things right and respecting each valued customer means he doesn’t have to be the cheapest laundry in his markets.
A customer-centric approach has meant that he hasn’t had to focus on doing excessive, expensive marketing to promote his stores; word of mouth has delivered Galloway substantial success. He does, however, do some radio advertising, runs print ads in local football programs (football is very big in these communities), and maintains a website. Facebook has also been successful in connecting his business with customers.
On the business front, Galloway has been impressed by the Huebsch Galaxy 600 controls. He said they give him the ultimate flexibility to manage his business and respond to changes in his market. Customers also like the ease of use of the Huebsch equipment. But just how easy to use are the machines?
Galloway joked that his son, at 4 years old, and was able to figure out how to wash clothes.
For Galloway, when that easy-to-use Huebsch equipment is partnered up with unparalleled distributor support, and a focus on delivering an excellent customer experience, the business results speak for themselves…success.