More Inside ‘Uh-Ohs’ from CPO Mary Arlington
Since selling her RV park, Mary Arlington now teaches and consults with small businesses through her consulting company, MMCC Inc. She wrote the following column for the July issue of Woodall's Campground Management. Find her online at www.MaryArlington.com.
I’m honored to return for more “Uh-Ohs” for the outdoor hospitality industry. As I stated in the April edition of WCM, where we began my list of Uh-Ohs, traveling by RV before buying a campground provided great insight for our own RV park. We didn’t want our guests encountering issues we had experienced. And yet, after selling the park and traveling by RV, I realize the traveler’s perspective is still overlooked at many campgrounds. As I experience Uh-Ohs today, I not only see my situation but I also see how it could be handled if I were the park owner.
Remember, these aren’t “feel good” articles. My focus is on helping business people strengthen and grow that which their passions ignited before they were blindsided by over-busy-ness and by exhaustion from reality. Strengthening and growing means changing, tweaking, and altering… not justifying, becoming complacent and feeling good. So let’s continue.
Laundry is a chore from which we can’t escape, even while traveling. You, however, can make the chore more of a burden… or not.
Uh-Oh #3 – Price: Yes, laundry equipment costs money, uses utilities and requires frequent attention by housekeeping (meaning it costs you in payroll and supplies). But charging astronomical fees is simply unjust. When I find excessively high prices, I wait until I find a park which understands the value of a happy guest and the value of a load of laundry. If your laundry is astronomically priced, you won’t receive this ancillary income from me.
Uh-Oh #4 - Timing and Temperature Controls: Washer water temperature is important, but let’s focus on dryers. A dryer should take 25-40 minutes to dry most loads, not 75, and certainly not 90, as was the case at one park. I know some people call 20 towels “a load” but most of us know what constitutes a load of laundry. I don’t mind putting in my money and returning as the cycle is ending, but I don’t like returning to find a damp load.
In this case, not only has the price of my laundry now exceeded my expectations, but also your equipment has messed up my timing for my dinner, my outing, my bedtime or whatever it is I planned to do next. My mind is now on the negatives! This sounds terribly stingy, as if it’s all about me, but if you’re in business to provide services for your guests, then it ought to be about me, the guest, and meeting (if not exceeding) my expectations.
Uh-Oh #5 - Equipment Cleanliness: There is a difference in the guest having to tolerate other messy guests compared to park management not ensuring a clean facility. Old spills and dirt, grime and grease, trash and flies, and multiple “out of order” signs… these are serious Uh-Ohs! As a traveling RVer, I don’t leave my money at these facilities; I hold out for a properly maintained RV park.
Uh-Oh #6 - Insufficient Equipment: If the washers don’t hold large enough loads (a set of queen sheets or more) or if there are too few washers and dryers for the number of guests standing in line, my ancillary money waits for another RV park.
Uh-Oh #7 - Comfort: Doing laundry in a facility that is over-heated and overly humidified from improper venting of the equipment (let alone Mother Nature, herself) is not going to give you a good rating when I’m online at the review sites. I was at a place where the room was so hot and muggy I couldn’t fold my clothes in there. I dumped the loads in my basket and did my folding in my RV, and of course by then much of it had wrinkled! As I wore clothing from those loads, I remembered that horrible place. Yes, you get it; the negative image kept compounding in my memory book! Had someone else been doing laundry before me, I would have realized the situation and would have kept my money for a better facility.
As an RVer, I pay attention to how I spend both site money and ancillary money. The park owner in me knows how every bit of revenue tallies up (not to mention the value of customer service). If, for any reason, I’m taking my ancillary laundry money to the next RV park, someone’s P&L is missing out!
Some parks made the laundry chore a welcomed experience. How?
- Provided proper quantity of machines in the 1:1 ratio (why have four washers and one dryer?).
- Supplied laundry carts.
- Climate-controlled the room.
- Maintained the equipment.
- Get out a jigsaw puzzle (started, to encourage attention).
- Provided outlets for charging laptops and cell phones.
- Offered Wi-Fi.
- Provided tables and chairs (I prefer sanitize-able chairs!).
- Distributed travel literature.
- Displayed magazines, a Bible, and copies of Reader’s Digest (short stories are handy).
- Tuned a TV to The Weather Channel (it saved me from going online).
- Offered a clean and smooth high table for folding clothes.
- Provided a place to hang clothes.
- Set up ironing board and provided an iron.
- Added a deep clean laundry sink for items needing to be hand-washed or pretreated.
- Placed trash cans near the dryers for lint and other garbage.
- Provided benches or chairs outside for pleasant days or for private phone calls.
It’s a bonus to find such facilities. Laundry can’t be avoided but you can make it less of a burden. If you offer a quality laundry experience, don’t be surprised if guests return to the office after seeing it to request an extension of their stay. An extra night of occupancy is a great reward for offering an outstanding laundry facility! Oh, while you’re extending their stay, enjoy watching that ancillary income roll in!
Sadly, I’m out of space here and still I’m not out of Uh-Ohs.