“There is no such thing as free in business.”
Handing out a free drying promotion isn’t inherently good or bad. In fact, laundromat promotions are normally bathed in a positive light. However, the efficacy and ethics of free drying depend entirely on how it’s positioned in the minds of your customers. If your store’s drying department is truly free, it’s not cost-effective unless you’re recovering the cost somewhere else. Conversely, when it is cost-effective, it’s likely to be falsely characterized. When laundromats advertise “free-dry” (eagerly shouting it from the rooftops) what they’re most likely saying is “we’ve incorporated the cost of drying into the washing price or have devised some other means of recovering the cost.”
Although charitable at first glance, in actuality a laundry is no different from any other business. Revenues must exceed costs in order for the business to achieve any semblance of growth and stability. A drying department is half of the revenue stream. Discarding it under the guise of a free a offer is simply not a tenable practice to hike your bottom line.
With that said, some laundries fully disclose their free dry model to their customers with great success. One way to pull this off is to implement a point system where customers receive “dryer-points” upon the purchase of a wash cycle. The amount of points earned is contingent upon the size of the washer. The price of drying is assimilated into the price of washing. This gives customers the impression that they’re receiving a free service, advertises it in a transparent and scrupulous manner, and keeps the operation cost-effective.
Free drying is a highly contentious topic amongst industry actors, primarily because it’s frequently advertised in a deceitful way. However, if you’ve implemented a free drying system that has yielded positive feedback from customers, whether it be a one-off promotion or a long-standing practice, stay on that course. It’s far better to be synchronized with what works for your customers than to heedlessly follow business maxims.
The moral of the free dry promotion is this: don’t proclaim anything as free unless you wholeheartedly mean it. If you want to go down the free dry path, let your customers know exactly what you’re up to. They’ll appreciate the honesty and honor your sound business ethics. If you’re still unsure about the merits of free drying offerings, scout your competition to see if it would distinguish you from the hamper of other laundromats in the area.