Simply put – Wash Co. in Middletown, NY epitomizes what a vended laundry at the highest level looks like. Likewise, Glen Sheeley is the type of owner whose commitment to customer service and professionalism are helping to raise the image of our industry. It’s that dedication to quality from top to bottom that earned Sheeley the Huebsch Store owner of the Quarter honor.
The Sheeley family has been involved in the car wash business in Orange County, NY for decades and had already owned two combination car wash/laundromats before deciding to build a showcase location in Middletown.
Constructed on five acres along a high-traffic road, the store is an example of what a modern laundromat looks like, coming in at almost 4,000 square feet. The car wash measures 160 feet, and has 20 vacuuming stations.
“Glen’s newest Wash Co. location is nothing short of spectacular,” said Kathryn Rowen, North American sales manager for the Huebsch brand of laundry equipment. “The Sheeleys are well deserving of the Huebsch Store Owner of the Quarter honor. The combination of a great store and superior service yield a truly exceptional experience for the customer.”
The car wash-laundromat connection
Sheeley said the two businesses in the same location are a good fit, as they have the same components and draw similar clientele.
“It always just seemed like it made sense,” he said, adding that in their car wash/laundromat locations, they have an employee who floats between the two elements of the business to ensure they deliver the customer service they are known for. That cross training has served them well in helping provide quality customer service.
A true family business, Glen’s dad, Wayne, at 67, stays involved with the stores.
“My father and I open the stores together every day,” Glen said. “That’s the best part of my day.”
That’s the same connection they seek to build with customers. With features such as 65-inch televisions, high ceilings and a generally warm and inviting environment, Wash Co. delivers a quality experience for clients from the moment they walk in the door.
“I want you to feel like you’re coming into my house,” Glen said.
Sheeley admits they went with a competing brand of equipment in an earlier store. That experience was less than stellar, with controls he considered “junk” and dryers that were out of service almost from the moment the store opened.
He says he learned from that mistake and partnered with Huebsch for the new store in Middletown. Out of the gate, Glen liked the rugged construction of the bearings on the washer-extractors. “They just look heavy duty,” he said, adding that the 10-year warranty gave him peace of mind that they didn’t just look heavy duty, they performed.
And then there’s the aesthetic look and feel of the machines’ chrome fronts and handles. While the look and feel of the machines definitely adds to the premium experience Wash Co. offers, it’s the 200-G-Force final spin that has been drawing rave reviews from customers.
Sheeley said it’s “music to his ears” when he hears customers say, “I love when I take loads out of the washer; they’re almost dry.”
Service beyond equipment
For a guy committed to exceptional customer service, Glen also gained additional peace of mind in working with Armonk, NY-based HK Laundry Equipment. HK President, Karl Hinrichs, and the entire HK team, assisted with a variety of tasks integral to getting a good start, including equipment mix, layout and installation.
Excellent service also extended into Glen’s experience with Huebsch Financial, who helped with financing the new Wash Co. location.
“[Huebsch Financial] is great compared to going to a bank,” Glen said. The difference comes in their industry expertise acting as a second set of eyes to review the location and demographics and the significantly faster response time.
Equation for success
Wash Co. is the result of the Sheeleys’ industry experience, HK’s guidance and something that many owners might forget – listening to the customer.
“The best information comes from the people doing their laundry here,” Glen said, adding that one addition to the new store was a seemingly small element – providing more electrical outlets. Look around any vended laundry today and in addition to utilizing free Wi-fi on their devices, customers are also charging. So for Sheeley, adding more outlets for customers to charge their devices just made sense.
Another element designed to meet his customers’ desire to get in and out fast are the large capacity Huebsch washer-extractors featured in the front of the store. Upon entering, they are greeted by a pair of 100-pound washers and a pair of 80 pounders. But do clients really want 100 pounds of capacity? Sheeley grins and says he should have added two more.
Wash Co. also adopted a unique approach to drying, where customers earn dryer credits based on the washer they select – a 20-pound washer earns three credits; a 100 earns 14. They also provide a bonus for clients who utilize their card system, providing an extra $2 for every $20 they put on the card.
Though they aren’t yet doing much in the way of cross marketing between the laundry and car wash, Sheeley said they do sell discounted car wash cards in the clear vending machine in the laundry. In the future, they may implement a points system, where customer can earn car wash credits as well.
On the car wash side, $6 gets a basic wash, while Wash Co. also offers memberships ranging from $14.99 to $32.99. In addition to the free vacuum use, the business again goes the extra mile with a towel exchange program for just $3. Clients exchange their towels after use, and Sheeley said the program has worked well, with towels holding up for four to five years.
Marketing made easy
Both the car wash and laundry have plenty of competitors close to the Middletown location; in fact there is a laundry and car wash within a quarter mile. However, that doesn’t mean Sheeley is breaking the bank on marketing tactics.
“A big digital sign is our marketing focus,” he said. The attention grabbing pylon features a screen to display photos of the inside of the laundry.
Between the word-of-mouth advertising the business gets through loyal customers and a presence on Facebook, Sheeley insists this is their formula for success, in addition to giving customers service that worthy of them sharing.
“You have to make it an experience,” Sheeley said.
That experience also includes free Wi-Fi, refreshment vending machines, and power doors to make it easier for customers lugging bags and baskets of laundry to get in and out. And, of course the Huebsch washer-extractors and tumble dryers ensure customers get the highest quality results and get out the door faster at Wash Co. than anywhere else in the area.
To learn more about Wash Co. visit its Facebook page at facebook.com/WashCoMiddletownNY. For more information about HK Laundry Equipment, visit hklaundry.com/.