Want to open a laundromat?
This article will provide you with great information about starting a laundromat. Read on to learn more!
Over the past 60 years the Coin Laundry/ Laundromat business has evolved from the small, hot backroom operation to what is now one of most popular small businesses in America. Not only is it a mature industry, with stable revenues and very good profitability, but it also affords the owner great tax benefits, and a minimal personal time commitment to both own and operate, with many owners investing in multiple stores while also pursuing other career interest such as Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, Educators, and Business Investors.
It wasn't until the early 1990's that the coin laundry industry began evolving from the small backroom operation into what is now the Super Laundromat. These modern store front operations can be anywhere from 1500 square feet to as much as 10,000 square feet or larger with 50 commercial sized washer and dryers to as many as 100 or more machines.
These stores are often fully air conditioned, and offer comfortable seating, large screen televisions, food and snack services, and other amenities that afford the patron a clean, safe and very comfortable clothes laundering experience. The growth of this full service industry seemed to coincide with the growth and necessity of both parents working outside of the household. These dual income families found themselves with more total income but less free time to enjoy it.
As a result, Laundromats became a much more attractive way of doing the weekly task of Laundry.
When modern, clean, comfortable and well equipped Laundromats opened up in strategically chosen neighborhoods, the impact these stores had in the community was nothing less than startling. Small, old coin laundries began to close and the patronage in these new larger modern stores far out-numbered the original market size in these neighborhoods.
Not only the people who used these old ill equipped stores, but others who lived in apartments, condominiums and even single family homes would choose to do their weekly laundry in a larger, comfortable and well equipped Laundromat, than waste their valuable time doing this chore in one or two machines at home or in their apartment. Many of these customers would now just drop off their laundry with a Laundromat attendant and pick it up a few hours later all washed, dried and professionally folded and packaged at a very reasonable price. Over time, these stores have become a welcome necessity to the community and a very profitable enterprise for the investor.
As a potential investor, once you have decided that opening a laundromat is something you would like to pursue, an equally important decision is selecting the best distributor that you feel can work with you through the process.
Select a Distributor
In the early days of the coin laundry industry, the role of the commercial laundry distributor was simply to sell you washers and dryers, but today they are a far more valuable asset to both the manufacturer and the coin laundry owner/ operator. Today's distributors are working with laundromat owners as consultants rather than just equipment dealers.
Before choosing a distributor it is always a wise idea to do some of your own research. Some of the key things you are going to want to look for include:
Look at both their personal and professional reputation. Talk with existing and past customers to learn what their opinion is of the equipment distributor.
Examine record of success
Find out what the distributor's record of success is. How many stores have they helped open? What is the profitability of those locations? How long have these locations been in business?
How long have they been in business? A distributor that has been in business a long time and is financially solvent is more likely to be around for the long-term.
Additional services offered
Does the distributor offer additional services like parts, education, equipment servicing, financing? Is there extra equipment and parts on hand to help out with the emergency repairs and equipment replacement if needed?
Owning a coin laundry is a major investment and the most important choice comes down to who you hire as a distributor. As a knowledgeable advisor they will help to guide store owners in making the right decision when it comes to making those all important choices.
The Power of Leverage
You've done the due diligence of investigating the industry and choosing a reputable distributor. Now it's time for the real work to begin. In order to secure the needed business loans, there are some steps you will need to complete.
Defining the legal structure
There are eight classifications your business can fall under. Before deciding on which structure is best for you, we strongly recommend consulting an attorney who specialize in business law. The eight classifications are sole proprietorship, general partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, limited liability limited partnership, limited liability companies, C- Corporation, S Corporation.
Finding a lender
Once you've established which classification your laundromat will fall under, you will need to begin searching out fund options of which there are four types. There is a private lender, a leasing company, suppliers and lending institutions.
Putting together your business plan
There are many different ways to put a business plan together. Here are a few tips you can use; create your vision, develop your budget, get to know your customers, and set goals!
What is a good location?
There is an art to owning a successful laundromat and the paint used to draw the most magnificent pictures is demographics. In determining the location of your coin laundry, there is generally an abundant amount of information and factors that need to come together in order for the situation to be ideal.
When you are first looking, drive around town, find sites that you think would be good. Get out and look at them! What are the characteristics of the site?
Some of the things you want to include would be parking, the building, other businesses, utility hook ups, the competition, the neighborhood itself, family neighborhoods, college towns, and shopping centers. But there is one thing that will make your laundromat successful: Location. By combining demographic analysis along with market research, you'll be well on your way to determining a site that will help you achieve your financial goals.
If you aren't buying the property or building your laundromat is going into, the most important document you will be working with is the lease. This legal agreement allows you to occupy and define the business space, but to protect yourself and your business, it's imperative that you have the right lease.
Before you get start to get down to business, it makes good sense to learn and understand the anatomy of a lease. There are many different types of leases and within each of them there could be negative clauses that could affect your plans. It's important you familiarize yourself with the components and kinds of leases out there.
The mix that is right: Understanding your customers equipment needs.
There is a delicate balance that needs to be made when deciding on the proper equipment mix for your coin laundry. If the equipment mix for your stores isn't just right, it can impact your profit potential as well as not meet the needs of your customers. With several considerations affection the equipment mix, taking them all into consideration is equally important.
These include having enough equipment in your store to handle your business days with minimal customer waiting periods, having the right mix of machine capacities to attract customers in your demographics, and of course not buying more equipment than you and your store can support. This is also where your distributor will play a big role in guiding you through the equipment selection process, as well as offering suggestions as to equipment mix including the number of washers and dryers that may comfortably fit in the dimensions of your store.
Designing your Coin Laundry
Once you've chosen your distributor, selected your location, and bought the property or signed a lease, the fun part really begins- Designing your Coin Laundry! The design, layout, and ancillary items you choose will all be part of the ingredients that aid in making your coin laundry successful.
Your design team will consist of you, your distributor, a local contractor, and potentially an architect. Together you will work on designing a coin laundry that will meet the needs of your business plan, ensure that building codes are met, have equipment that is installed properly and have all the little details to make your store a showplace that customers will want to visit again and again. When you are looking at the design, keep in mind that you want to build your store with your future customers in mind. You want them to feel like it's "their" laundromat. Providing them with an environment that they find comfortable will not only attract them, but keep them coming back!
Cash versus Smart Cards
The average American is using and carrying less cash and more debit and credit cards. With consumers now able to pay bills online, use debit or credit card machines at the gas pump, grocery stores, or retail stores, the questions becomes, cash or card? For vended laundry owners it's a question of what you feel is best for you and your business.
A smart card is similar in size and look to a credit card. It comes equipped with a magnetic strip or computer chip that activates the laundry equipment when the user inserts the card into a card reader that's been installed on the washer and dryer. Using a card value center, your customers would add value to their card using cash, a credit card, or a debit card.
A relatively easy concept, this is one laundry technology where your demographic and competitive information may play a major role in your decision.
Attended or Unattended Laundromat
Whether you have an attended or unattended laundry, there are going to be both positive and negative aspects to it.
Someone to keep an eye on your store
Help keep the laundry clean
Allows you to manage less day-to-day and more of the business
Address customer concerns in a timely fashion and allow you to sell other services such as drop off laundry
Abuse of sick time
Not doing his or her job
Take up more of your time
Overhead in wages
Additional Revenue Opportunities
There are many great ideas on how you can supplement and grow the income of your coin laundry. For the attended laundries, the easier ways for coin laundry owners to capitalize on untapped income potential, is by providing wash, dry, and fold service.
Drop off laundry service or "wash, dry, fold" as it is commonly known, has been around since the beginning of time. Basically, people are willing to pay someone else to do their laundry for them. It is a true service industry business. This willingness is what developed the dry-cleaning industry.
With the ability to boost your revenue with no significant additional investment required, wash-dry-fold is a fairly basic business opportunity that through proper management and customer service, can grow as much as you want it to.
The Big Day: Opening your Laundromat
To help ensure you will have customers in your store on opening day, there are a few things you're going to want to do 6 months before opening.
Create an advertising/ public relations plan.
- Create a Facebook page and start advertising your store months in advance.
- Determine if you will offer special discounted pricing or coupons to promote your store and attract new customers.\
- Place signs in the windows in the front of your store that announces a new laundry is coming soon.
- Plan your open house.
Opening a coin laundry is a big investment.
Even before opening your doors for the first time, it's important to develop a plan to protect it. Everything from insurance to preventative maintenance is important to making sure your investment is safe and continues to grow!
While this article provides you with a great start to learning about the coin laundry industry, it is by no means the only source of information you should rely on. We want to stress how important it is to hire the right team!
We hope this blog has provided you with a foundation to develop the framework for getting started in the coin laundry industry, but one source is never enough to provide success.
As you develop more of your own questions, The Aaxon Laundry Systems team can help answer them for you. If you would like to learn even more about this industry, contact our Vice President, Ed Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
**This is not a Franchise or Business opportunity. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as creating a franchise relationship.