Community = Revenue

How creating a community of clients can increase revenue for your business.
Community = Revenue
photo by Mike Erskine
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In the laundry business, we often focus on the machines, operations, products, logistics, etc. But another crucial element that can greatly improve our success is the community inside our client base.

Community building isn't a new concept. Brands like Harley Davidson, Salesforce, and Fitbit have successfully built communities around their products and services, turning clients into advocates and creating a network of loyal followers.

Harley Davidson has built a community of passionate riders who buy motorcycles, wear merchandise, and attend events. Don't believe me? Just ask Joe Dan Reed. Harley's community has been instrumental in Harley Davidson's success, contributing to a 6.5% increase in international retail sales in Q1 2021.

Salesforce, a software company, has also built a thriving community. Their event, Dreamforce, attracts over 170,000 attendees and millions of online viewers. This community has helped Salesforce grow its revenue by 24% in FY 2021.

Fitbit, a company that sells fitness trackers, has built a community of users who share their fitness goals and achievements, participate in challenges, and even meet in person at Fitbit Local events. This community has helped Fitbit sell over 100 million devices and gain over 28 million active users.

What does this have to do with laundry?

About a month ago, in one of the laundry forums I'm in, a question popped up:

"Per bag or per lb Question—Hello Community. I've been beating my head against the wall debating whether to offer customers per lb pricing or per bag pricing. We've done the math and per bag is generally more profitable (based on the past three months). I appreciate your input."

The question doesn't speak to my point, but the answer from Drew Smith of Salt & Light Laundry Services below does:

"Hey, this is a fantastic question! We decided early on to price by the lb. The reason being we wanted to make sure we were charging our customer for exactly what they sent. Nothing more, nothing less. The per bag price had nuances in it that you mentioned. I have an elderly woman at a nursing home who sends exactly our minimum on per lbs but it wouldn't fit more than half a bag. If I had chosen to charge her a bag price, she would have been paying a lot more and wouldn't have been able to use our service.

Waleed Cope said this, and I think it perfectly articulates the question and decision path you're looking at.

‘As you build your business, you have to decide if you want to be a mercenary or a missionary in garment care.

  • Missionary - make money when good things happen to your clients.
    • example: my money manager gets a bonus when they make me more money
  • Mercenary - make money when bad things happen to your clients.
    • example: my bank charges me a fee if my account is overdrawn.

Nothing wrong with choosing either, but once you decide which you want to be, it drives your business and ideas for it differently.’

I believe our growth came from our many choices to build a community instead of a company. I hope this helps!”*

But can this strategy work in the laundry business?


Yes, the last part of Drew's answer is how we do it in laundry.

Drew and his family built a service and product around a community. I have never spoken with Drew directly about his business, or the foundation he built it on, so everything I share here is based on their website and what I have seen Drew post online.

Follow me as I break this down below (full disclosure, some religious points will come up here):

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