So you want to become the next owner/operator of your friendly neighborhood laundromat? Getting into the coin-op business can be very rewarding, but opening one successfully might require you be a little creative with your business. Take what you thought you knew about laundromat enterprising to the cleaners.
It’s a surprisingly exciting time to be in the business. Facilities where people used to sit and wait for their drying laundry under popping and sparking florescent lamps have received a facelift. To be successful in the business, you’ve got to turn “that laundromat” into “The Wash.”
“The industry is now getting a facelift,” President and CEO of the Coin Laundry Association, Brian Wallace, told Entrepreneur. “There’s a trend toward coin laundries being more comfortable for the customer.”
Today, many urban-dwellers’ time is crunched. Personal and professional duties are being blended – and with them – so are habits and hangouts. The rise of Starbucks is a perfect example. Students can get coffee while they study. Professionals can conduct business meetings while caffeinating for the rest of the workday. Laundromats are adapting too: Many now include snack bars or video games. Some – like New York’s Wash House – serve gourmet grilled cheese in addition to being a drop-off dry cleaning service.
“Our coffee shop is a bar, cafe and a laundromat,” Lee Kerzner, native New Yorker and owner of the New York Wash House, told CNN Money. “It’s a winning formula. The response from the local community has been amazing. We’re doing more laundry than we ever expected and selling out of coffee.”
The trend isn’t just going strong in America either. Only last year, a similar laundromat business plan took off in Montreal.
Chaz Desousa is the co-owner of Le Petit Bas Perdu: in English, “The Little Lost Netherlands,” the Montreal Gazette reported.
“The laundromat had to be super-clean and well-functioning, but I wanted it to be homey and welcoming, and fun and quirky,” Desousa said. “With the café up front, people don’t mind waiting around … until their clothes are washed and dried.”
Keep in mind that most successful laundromats will require a staff – if only part time. General housekeeping, basic maintenance and custodial duties are an everyday occurrence. This can be one reason why running a hybrid business from the same location can not only maximize your real estate and investment, but also make it far more successful.
Coming up with a winning business plan will count for nothing without giving it the opportunity to grow. Your laundromat doesn’t necessarily need a Main Street address to achieve success. Everyone needs to do their laundry, so just thoroughly connecting with the community can be enough.
Being within a mile or two of working-class neighborhoods could mean prosperity for most simple coin-op businesses. According to HK Laundry, another proven tip is to place your business near multifamily housing. Typically, these models are structured so that only one family – the residents located in the basement – will have easy access to a washing machine. The other three will need to do their laundry elsewhere, and can be a gold mine.
For hybrid business models, placing your bakery/dry cleaners or delicatessen/laundromat in a highly trafficked area can spell success. If potential customers are already hanging out in the area – why not give them multiple reasons to hang out in your store(s)? If you’re ready to invest but aren’t sure which direction to take your foundationally laundry-based investment, ask yourself what people might need, where they may need it and if it could pair well with the standard one- to two-hour laundromat down time.
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