Signage, aesthetics, colors and innovative equipment are crucial when creating a laundromat’s unique brand to ultimately make it stand out among the competition. That’s the secret behind John D. (J.D.) Dixon’s success in transforming a rundown store into a thoughtfully designed, well-organized and aesthetically pleasing laundromat in Dickson, Tennessee. From the second customers walk through the door, they experience a clean, contemporary environment unmatched by any other in the area. That’s why it’s their laundromat of choice.
Transforming a Laundromat into an Experience
As an equipment distributor with almost a decade of experience in the laundry industry, Dixon has helped build his fair share of vended laundries. After years of identifying and following market trends and helping his customers give their stores distinctive looks, Dixon put his experience to a personal test in 2014 when designing his own laundromat.
He purchased a building that previously housed a dated, rundown laundromat that eventually went under. The fact that it had been a long-standing, well-known laundromat in the community worked to Dixon’s advantage. Once he finished renovations and reopened, Dixon was able to re-attract former customers and take some business away from competitors.
With a clear vision for his new laundromat – a simple, yet elegant, store that gets customers in and out quickly – Dixon transformed the existing 3,600-square-feet over 90 days.
The previous owner had installed machines from a competitor that dated back to the mid-90s. Dixon replaced all of them with those from his manufacturer of choice: Huebsch®. The store is equipped with 65 machines, most of which feature Huebsch’s innovative Galaxy™ 600 control system. The majority of washer-extractors are 30- and 40-pound capacity, and he’s also sprinkled in several 60- and 80-pound machines among five top load washers. National Laundry provides customers with a selection of energy efficient 30- and 45-pound stacked tumble dryers, and a few 75-pound dryers, which, according to Dixon, “outsell the smaller capacities.”
“I’m very happy with the equipment mix, but if I could do it over I would have installed more of the large-capacity machines,” admitted Dixon. “Customers love them, and they’re much more popular than I ever expected.”
With three different aesthetically pleasing control panel overlay options now available on select Huebsch cabinet hardmount washer-extractors, tumble dryers and stacked tumble dryers, Dixon selected Cityscape. Cityscape features a gray control panel complemented by a splash of vivid green. Additionally, a polished chrome door handle – now a standard offering – and a Halo chrome door ring give it a shiny accent.
“I truly believe if you place a machine with Cityscape and chrome accents next to a more generic-looking machine the customer will choose the former,” Dixon said. “My customers frequently comment on how gorgeous the equipment is – that it’s exciting, that it’s modern-looking. It has personality.”
The addition of innovative, top-of-the-line Huebsch machines with Cityscape and modern chrome accents also inspired him to give his store a complete facelift.
Dixon replaced lighting and flooring, and added fresh paint. The layout was improved to provide a more cohesive user experience and reduce the number of steps a customer must take in the store. Additionally, flat screen televisions were added to provide entertainment and to continually run a video that provides instructions on how to operate equipment. Modern signage provides additional instructions.
“It’s easy to notice the positive difference when revamping an entire store, but even small changes can go a long way in transforming a store’s brand and improving the customer experience,” he said.
Dixon wanted to do more than just revamp his store, he wanted his store to be an experience. He offers vending machines and video games to keep his customers entertained while they wait. Free Wi-Fi is also available. Dixon even set up a Facebook page, allowing customers to provide feedback about their experience, which he’s used to make further adjustments to his offering. Because of Facebook comments, Dixon has added more laundry carts for customers.
“The Facebook page has been a great tool to engage with customers,” he said. “I’ve received a lot of really great ideas from customers who use the stores, and they love it when you implement something they come up with.”
Sealing the Deal
Once he had ownership of the building, Dixon partnered with Huebsch Financial to secure a loan for his new business venture.
“The ease of doing business with them is what really sets them apart from any other lending program,” he said. “It’s going to happen fast and you are going to get a great deal – it’s really the way to go.”
The staff at Huebsch Financial are knowledgeable and professional, he adds. Dixon had an aggressive plan to make sure his store was up and running in a short amount of time, and Huebsch Financial worked quickly to ensure that funding was available right away.
Huebsch Financial offered Dixon customized, personalized support from a network of professionals who are experts in the laundry industry. Because laundry is all they do, Huebsch Financial was able to provide insights and advice unique to building and financing a laundromat.
As a distributor, Dixon has seen the customized service Huebsch Financial has provided customers with in the past – from tailored interest rates to flexible timelines for making payments – and it’s made him an advocate for the company.
“It really made me a believer of Huebsch Financial just watching how they treat my customers – they give more of a personal touch than other lenders do,” Dixon said. “Additionally, they are experts in laundry so they know the business inside and out.”
Another bonus of sealing the deal with Huebsch Financial is that they allow store owners to use their equipment as collateral towards the loan, which makes it easier to upgrade machines or even invest in additional locations.
“Having your equipment look amazing is no small thing. It is incredibly important for the brand of your store to have equipment in which people come in and say, ‘Wow,’” he said. “The little details can add up to the difference between a customer choosing one laundromat over another.”
As a Huebsch equipment distributor, Dixon had the knowledge, confidence and network of professionals behind him to make his new laundromat a success. With new, energy-efficient equipment and renovations to make his laundromat stand out, Dixon is already seeing success – and National Laundry just opened last year.
Because he’s doing much better than anticipated, it’s only a matter of time before he opens another laundromat. “Settling on the right location is the only obstacle in my path to continued success as a laundromat owner,” Dixon explained.