Many want to own a Laundromat because it affords them a potentially good or supplemental income, flexible work hours and a less stressful work life. These are certainly good reasons and all possible but one still has to do the work. Running a Laundromat is simple, yes, but it's not easy. In this article I will cover what it takes to increase business and get your laundromat in top shape ready to sell for top dollar!
In recent articles I have discussed how to evaluate laundromats for sale and suggested some financing options. Perhaps now you have that store. What next?
Many want to own a Laundromat because it affords them a potentially good or supplemental income, flexible work hours and a less stressful work life. These are certainly good reasons and all possible but one still has to do the work. Running a laundromat is simple, yes, but it's not easy. I don't mean it's not easy like brain surgery isn't easy but that you have to be consistently doing the right things. Put another way; the right things aren't hard but they have to be done! Contrary to what many think and what many operators do you cannot simply "collect and neglect".
Like our teachers and coaches told us when we were young and starting something new; "start with fundamentals!" So we will:
First and foremost remember, and always remember; CLEAN, BRIGHT and SAFE. Live by these three simple words and you will be a step ahead of many, many laundromats! I am constantly amazed at the number of stores I see where the owner seems to embrace the exact opposite!
Clean: people are there to clean their cloths. The last thing they want to see is a bunch of filth around them. And you know what? Most people just flat out like a clean environment.
Bright: Unless you plan on having people enjoy a romantic dinner in your store keep it nice and bright. For one thing people want to be able to see what they are doing and that their cloths are in fact clean, two, brightness tends to lead people to a brighter more cheerful outlook and, three, it aids in the next of these fundamentals; safety.
Safe: Who are the majority of people doing laundry? Our Mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. You need to keep them safe and have them feel secure. You need to have cameras, avoid blinds spots where one cannot be seen by people or the camera, have a bright atmosphere and you need to run the loiterers out of your store.
Another very basic component of a successful laundromat is to make sure you have working equipment. Sounds obvious but as you are in and out of stores take note of how many "out of order" signs you see. If your equipment is out of order people can't deposit money (so you can earn money) and it also means people will wait longer for an available machine thereby driving them away and to your competition.
Your task will either be to fix the problems immediately (if you are able) or establish a relationship with a repairman or get him out there quickly when needed. Preventive maintenance agreements with your repairman would also help to keep out of orders signs to a minimum.
Many manufacturers will conduct complimentary service schools. Maintenance and basic repairs are not too difficult if you are so inclined so you may find these schools valuable. For more difficult repairs you can send your maintenance person to the advanced service schools.
Another important task that some forget, as a Laundromat is supposed to be self service, is CUSTOMER SERVICE. Yes, you still have to pay attention to this even at a Laundromat. Get to know your customers, help them bring their laundry basket to the car, get them refunds promptly, ask questions as to how you can serve them better, give that good customer a free wash or a cold drink.
I visit a lot of stores and though many stores with no owner or employee presence can do quite well there is a different and more attractive vibe, which usually lead to more business, in a store that is serving their customers well.
A task that seems to be neglected in the Laundry industry that I highly recommend is marketing. Obvious and many do it, but not consistently. In a recent survey by one of the industry magazines it was found that less than 20% of laundromat owners did marketing on a regular basis. Remember that many of your customers are people that rent. Renters tend to be a bit more transient so you want to make sure those coming into the area know about your store. Of course consistently reminding those that do live in the area for the long run can only benefit your cause.
Now it's time to collect all of that money. Woo hoo! Got to like that! Absolutely, but know that it can be time consuming. Even if you just dumped all the money in a bag, put the quarters in the changer and went to the bank with all the bills you will find that it takes a bit of time and effort. But when you pull that money out of the coin boxes you will also want to evaluate the performance of your various pieces of equipment. Which machines are bringing in more money? Do some size machines do better than others? Is the positioning of the machine affecting how much money it makes? Do some machines do better during weekend versus weekdays? You want to evaluate all of these things so you can buy the right equipment in the future, increase or decrease prices or promote certain machines that aren't doing well. This does take a little more time but it is critical to the success of your business.
There is much more detail to these several day to day tasks I have mentioned but for now at least be aware of them. You will learn more as you go and will refine them based on your style of management but stick to them and you will be on your way to running the successful Laundromat you envisioned at the outset.
About The Author: Steve Erlinger specializes in assisting those buying and selling laundromats in the Orange County and Inland Empire areas. He helps potential laundry buyers navigate the many facets of finding, evaluating, and operating coin laundry businesses. He also assists current owners find additional stores or evaluate an existing store in order to help grow their business. Steve can be reached direct at 949-500-5893 for more information about selling or buying a laundromat.
|Helpful Resources To Assist In Selling And Buying California Businesses|
|Chuck Post: Laundry Buyer Representation, Consulting, Due Diligence
Chuck Post has 32 years experience in the laundry industry, specializing in assisting laundry buyers (and entrepreneurs) with buying or starting up, building, re-tooling, laundries throughout California. Laundry buyer representation, consulting, due-diligence, lease negotiations, laundry valuations.
|Brad Steinberg, Broker - Laundromat Specialists
PWS is the leading laundromat broker in California. Since 1968 PWS has brokered over 2,500 laundromat sales. With over 90 employees dedicated to the coin laundry industry, PWS has 18 licensed agents, a 3 person in-house finance department, 10 service technicians and a 20 person parts department.
|Peter Siegel, MBA - SBA Loans, Non SBA Financing Assistance
For over 25 years I have provided niche business purchase financial advisory and loan placement services with SBA and Non-SBA Loans, Retirement Plan Conversions, Private Investors, etc. Financing amounts available: $20K to $7MM. Call today to get pre-qualified or receive financing: 866-270-6278.
|Larry Larsen, Broker, Laundry Specialist - Orange, LA Counties
I have over forty years of experience in the sales, ownership, management, and construction of coin laundries. He is a licensed broker active in the sale of coin laundries, a licensed insurance agent specializing in coin laundry insurance.
|Steve Erlinger: Laundry Broker, Consultant - Southern California
I specialize in the laundry industry broker and consultant in Southern California. I assist buyers navigate the many facets of finding, evaluating, and operating a laundry business. I also help current laundry owners find additional stores, sell, evaluate an existing laundromat.
|Mike Hurrell, Broker: Coin & Card Laundry Specialist Brokerage
Providencia Properties Inc in association with Golden State Laundry Systems is a full service Coin Laundry Real Estate Broker. At GSLS you will receive personalized attention from our professional staff of coin laundry experts. To sell or buy a Southern CA laundromat call Mike at 310-223-2240 X209.
|Diane Boudreau-Tschetter: Escrow And Bulk Sale Services
California Business Escrow, Inc. is a full service independent escrow company serving all of California and has expertise in a wide range of escrows. Our team prides itself on providing an exceptional escrow experience. For more info phone Diane Boudreau-Tschetter at 888-383-3331 or 209-838-1100.
|Helen Yoo: Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - Southern California
New Century Escrow, Inc. is a fully licensed & bonded independent escrow company. Over 20 years combined experience in handling bulk escrow transactions. Multi-lingual staff that speaks your language, including Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese. Call Helen Yoo direct at 626-890-1151.
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