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SuperSuds owns and operates 24 different laundromats, all of which feature highly efficient large-load and high-speed washers and dryers, across four states on the east coast.
Owner Robert Schwartz, who has a background on Wall Street, saw an opportunity back in 1996 to consolidate the widely fragmented laundromat industry. But as he acquired more locations across a greater geographic area, he realized he couldn’t run the entire business on his own. He also realized that many of the stores felt isolated and out of touch. As a result, Schwartz wanted to find a system that would not only tie his business together, but also give a greater sense of leadership and ownership to the associates running each location.
While he read The Great Game of Business years ago, it wasn’t until he went to Springfield to see Great Game™ in action did he fully appreciate how it could be the answer he was looking for. It was after a visit to his neighbor Liz Wilder of Wilder Designs, a GGOB Hall of Famer, that Schwartz made the move to hire a coach, Wayne Whitesell, to start playing The Game companywide in 2017.
The SuperSuds team has been playing The Great Game of Business® (GGOB) for almost three years, and financial metrics are up across the board. “The results speak for themselves and it’s one of the main reasons why we will ALWAYS play The Game,” says Schwartz. “Our team engagements have also never been higher, which has made a huge positive impact on our customer service at the store level.” Schwartz has worked in the industry for twenty years and he says average sales growth per store is 3% or less. By comparison, SuperSuds' gross sales in 2019 were up 10%—and EBITDA topped $1.8 million. “I attribute this remarkable growth to our engaged team and a mind shift towards a sense of ownership with 'A Stake in the Outcome®',” says Schwartz, who points out that the company has not lost a store manager, service technician, collector or office administrative person in over one year. “I think the biggest impact has been at the store level. For the first time, our store managers have realized that their impact on the customer experience has translated to higher store sales which means more bonus pay—a true line of sight impact has begun.”
“GGOB has made our company more of a family company. We have completely changed direction and it has made our employees more engaged and more eager to help SuperSuds grow.”
~ Mary Tuggle, General Manager
When the coronavirus hit hard in April, Schwartz admits it was a fear moment for everyone in his business. “Everyone was wondering what would happen if someone got sick,” he says. Fortunately, his team had already made the shift to huddling over Zoom, which included a Spanish translation. The team had earned a bonus for the first quarter, but they also talked about what it would mean to the company’s cash position to pay it out. “I had a significant number of people come to me and say they’d like to defer their bonus until the end of the year,” says Schwartz. “They said, ‘I trust you. These were people making hourly wages, but they understood that cash was going to be tight. I was tearing up.” In the end, Schwartz decided to pay the full quarterly bonus of $50,000, but also to suspend any subsequent payout until the economy more fully recovered—a decision the entire team understood and agreed with. Another takeaway from the pandemic experience for Schwartz was a pledge to pay down as much debt inside the business as he could going forward to limit the exposure of the business to future downturns.
An example of a successful MiniGame ran at SuperSuds involved a goal to get store operators to engage more with customers by encouraging them to take selfie photos with customers, which would then be posted to the company’s Facebook page. Every store that hit their targets were given the chance to spin a prize wheel. One store won the grand prize, snapping some 130 selfies over three months, which earned every employee in the store $100.
“It has affected every aspect of SuperSuds. There’s a higher level of trust and communication at all levels of the team. Employees who are on the call are vested and do the work to more accurately project numbers. Team members know what we prioritize and translate that to their work in the stores.”
~ Jennie Jimenez- Brydie, General Manager
In January Schwartz hired our two coaches, Wayne Whitesell and Anne-Claire Broughton, for another year to help the SuperSuds team implement High-Involvement Planning™(HIP). “Our main focus over the next 12 months is infusing our six core values throughout our organization along with creating an award winning ‘unique customer experience’ similar to Chik Fil A and Zingermans,” says Schwartz, who is hopeful the team can reach its BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) of $25 million in revenue with an EBITDA of $6.25 million by 2030 by adding new profit centers like pick-up and delivery, commercial laundry service, drop-off laundry service, and buying more stores in other markets. At the same time, Schwartz say he is also bringing home the lessons he’s learning inside his business. “I have taken all the lessons learned about financial literacy and transparency and implemented weekly budget huddles with my wife and monthly education tutorials for my son,” he says.
“It has made working a lot of fun and the learning of new things and functions is great.”
~ Chris Manetta, Service Tech
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