PlanetLaundry and Supplements West Supplement to April 2012 Jrnl : Page 1

Spring 2012 | planetlaundry.com | coinlaundry.org West BU SI N E S S P R O FI L E STEVEN GOULD At Your Service For Small-Town Arizona Laundry, It’s All About the Customer F or Lou Cohen and John Poole, it’s all about customer service. Not the kind of customer service that we’ve come to expect these days, but exceptional customer service – reminiscent of the old-fashioned, neighborly variety from years past. For instance, when the owners of Super Clean Laundry in Cottonwood, Ariz., see a customer struggling through their parking lot with a load of ADVERTISERS Clean View Media | 03 CLA Insurance | 08 Coin Laundry Association | 12 Continental Girbau West | 09 Setomatic Systems | 07 Sunshine Sales | 05 laundry, they’ll go outside and help that person carry the bundle into their store. Or, when they see a young mom trying to keep her kids in line as she packs up to leave, they’ll again offer to carry the laundry out to the car and load it up so that she can keep an eye on her children in the parking lot. If a customer runs out of time and has to leave before continued on page 6

BUSINESS PROFILE

Steven Gould


At Your Service For Small-Town Arizona Laundry, It’s All About the Customer

For Lou Cohen and John Poole, it’s all about customer service. Not the kind of customer service that we’ve come to expect these days, but exceptional customer service – reminiscent of the old-fashioned, neighborly variety from years past.

For instance, when the owners of Super Clean Laundry in Cottonwood, Ariz., see a customer struggling through their parking lot with a load of laundry, they’ll go outside and help that person carry the bundle into their store. Or, when they see a young mom trying to keep her kids in line as she packs up to leave, they’ll again offer to carry the laundry out to the car and load it up so that she can keep an eye on her children in the parking lot. If a customer runs out of time and has to leave before the laundry is done, Cohen or Poole will finish it up and fold it for them – at no charge.

It’s this kind of service that has built a solid reputation for the store and that keeps the customers coming back.

Poole knows quite a bit about dealing with the public and providing exceptional service. Before he tired of the brutal Chicago area winters and relocated to the warmth of Arizona, he spent 10 years as a police officer in Northlake, a Chicago suburb. In addition, he owned a nightclub for 20 years. It may not be the typical path to owning a coin laundry, but it’s certainly one that taught him the best ways to deal with the general public and develop a solid understanding of what makes them happy.

As a police officer and club owner, Poole often came across people when not always at their best or most sober. Nonetheless, he still enjoyed dealing with people, so when he moved to Arizona, he wanted to do something that kept him in touch with the public. And a coin laundry seemed like the ideal opportunity for him.

“We already had a 3,000-square-foot building, so we didn’t need to look for a location or work out a lease,” Poole explained. “The timing was perfect because there were no laundromats anywhere nearby, and the town really needed one.”

Poole liked the idea of a self-service laundry because, as he said, the machines are working for him, so he didn’t have to deal with a lot of payroll issues. Another plus was the fact that a laundry is a cash business, which enabled him to have more control over the cash flow than he had with his nightclub.

Poole and his wife did most of the interior work on the building themselves.

“We work well together on projects like that,” explained Poole, who opened Super Clean in August 1994. “She’s very artistic, and I’m pretty handy.”

The couple ran the business for a number of years until Poole decided it was time for him to retire and start taking it easy. As a result, the Pooles sold the laundry business and set about to enjoy the quiet life in the small mountain town.

But “retirement” didn’t last long.

After about four years of taking it easy, Poole realized he needed something to keep him busy. That’s when he approached Cohen – who had since purchased Super Clean from the investors Poole has originally sold to – and got back into the laundry business as Cohen’s partner. And together they’ve been providing first-class customer service ever since.

Super Clean Laundry – which employs two full-time attendants and one part-time staffer (including Poole) – is open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The store offers wash-dry-fold services, priced at $1.25 per pound; however, larger items such as quilts, comforters and sleeping bags cost $2.50 a pound.

And, although Super Clean doesn’t feature the soda or snack vending machines so prevalent in today’s coin laundries (because they “heat up the store and waste energy,” according to Poole), the laundry includes a refrigerator at its service counter where customers can buy soda, bottled water and ice cream bars.

“The ice cream bars have been a big hit,” Poole marveled. “That was a real surprise, so we’re happy with that.”

What’s more, in keeping with the laundry theme, Super Clean has a clothesline running behind the attendant station with bags of chips and candy bars hung by clothes pins for customers to purchase. The store also features a couple of bill changers and a soap vending machine.

“When I first opened the store, I was the only game in town,” Poole recalled. “Then stores started to open all around us – one here, one over there, another around the corner.”

Despite the competition, Super Clean has developed a solid reputation in the Cottonwood market.

“We really don’t have to do any advertising at all,” Poole said. “We’ve tried it a few times, but we don’t see a lot of return for our investment. Nothing beats good word of mouth, and our customers are more than happy to tell their friends about us.Whenever anyone asks about a laundromat in town, we are the one that is always mentioned.We run a very clean operation; we have large windows that let in plenty of sunshine for a nice, bright store.

“We provide a lot of comfortable seating, both inside and outside,” he added. “The store has wide aisles, and our folding tables are spread throughout the store so that our customers can have their own workspace without having to stare across at someone or bump into them side by side. And we really feel that our customer service is head and shoulders above the competition.”

Clearly, Poole and Cohen enjoy the life of running a laundromat in a small town, staying busy and, above all, providing friendly customer service.

“Courtesy and friendliness always comes first,” Poole said. “We absolutely pride ourselves on having the best service in town. That’s what we’re known for.”

Read the full article at http://digitaleditions.walsworthprintgroup.com/article/BUSINESS+PROFILE/1018165/105832/article.html.

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