Innovating a boring industry

Not every industry can be as exciting and interesting as consumer electronics, automobiles or movies. Some industries, including but not limited to, industrial businesses are inherently more boring and are not fun to talk about or even think about other than simply investing money in them, like stocks. However, some of these industries offer opportunities in their boredom, especially the ones that require people to spend their time, along with their money.

Case in point: Laundromats. For anyone that uses a Laundromat to do their laundry, a thought of less than optimal cleanliness and absolute boredom comes to mind. Doing laundry at a Laundromat often feels like taking a couple hours out of the week and simply throwing them in the garbage. There is not much to do there other than read a book, play on an iPhone (if you have one) or stare at your clothes tumbling around.

Before I continue, I must admit that I did not actually think of this all on my own, but was inspired by an LA Times article that discussed this very change in the industry in Los Angeles (click here to read it if you want). Laundromats would likely do a lot better if they were cleaner. This is probably the biggest con this industry has. If you think about it, these places should be clean because after all, you are going there to clean your clothing. If these places were kept in better shape and did not look like run down places for poor people, they would attract more business.

However, cleanliness should not be looked at as an opportunity; it should be the case across the board as a pre-requisite. The opportunity comes in the form of entertaining the bored customers while they wait. Having TV’s, perhaps with on demand movies for free would be very enticing. In fact, if done correctly, they wouldn’t even need to be free and could serve as an additional revenue stream. Also, including vending machines that offer not only the basic drinks and snacks, but also ice cream (yes, these machines do exist) and fries would be interesting.

Also, with some extra space, Laundromat owners can offer various products to the customers. Perhaps the traffic does not warrant a sales person on site, but there are many creative ways to sell products without having to be there personally to execute the transaction. I won’t get in to the different ways of accomplishing this because the list I have in my head for this alone will be as long as this post.

By doing little things like keeping the place very clean, offering amenities like on demand TV and movie watching and offering various goods for sale, Laundromats can not only attract business from the competition, but can even make more money per customer with minimal increased effort. Doing these things will make this otherwise boring industry a little less so, and that will be seen on the bottom line.