While my point of reference comes mostly from my experience in the vended laundry business, I believe it is also good practice for all entering a new business to have a well thought out exit strategy.
In many small businesses, you can purchase it; build it up with your wit and sweat. Then, when you want out it s likely worth much more than you originally paid for it. If your lease fails, you can probably move the business to a new and maybe even better location. You likely will have plenty of time to consider the right move.
A laundry business investment is different. First consider that the size of investment required for a vended laundry is substantial. A basic laundry earning a $10,000 monthly cash flow (Discretionary Income) may cost in the $600,000.00 range. Most of this investment is in the ground; owned permanently by the landlord. The equipment value of the In Place Equipment is much greater than the liquid value, if you desired selling it off, making recouping your investment by selling the equipment pretty unlikely. So, you need to look at how you will sustain or grow the value of this business in a manner that maximizes the end game as well. It will take very careful planning, a thorough and well-understood due diligence and a strong understanding of the laundry model, of the store in question and a plan going forward, including equipment replacement, operation modifications and all other elements of the laundries value.
The laundry business is an investment business. Designed to be easy on your time and relatively easy to operate. It is a also high cap business and if run properly a very enjoyable business to own. Worth mentioning, it is an all cash - necessity of life service business that is also pretty easy to operate. The challenge is keeping up with the changes, deterioration and model management. Fortunately for laundry buyers and unfortunately for many owner-operators, this is not typically done. So there are many disadvantaged laundries available for sale. Some are diamonds in the rough and others you just want to stay away from. Just have your eyes wide open when reviewing the value of the laundromat. Be sure to look at everything carefully.
Be assured, that growth is potentially very good for laundries. With a majority of your investment being dependent on the value of two critical elements, you just have to enter this business with a good and realistic plan. Things need to add up. It s better to deal with all of these issues on the buy in.
In a nutshell, if you are cash flowing 20% on a $600K investment ($10,000 Monthly) and have sufficient time on the lease and equipment to return your investment plus a return for your valuable time (not so much here), and consider what the value is of what you will have to sell at the end. Does it add up? What are the challenges to get them to?
Remember, that 20% cash flow is dependent on your ability to have it returned. If not that 20% may end up very low.