Monday, January 6, 2014

Six Suggestions For Operating Partially Attended Laundromats, Card or Coin Laundries

In California very few Laundromats are fully attended. The Laundromat concept was sold as a business that could be operated while still maintaining another full time occupation. The most successful advocate of this concept was PWS, the Speed Queen - and also Huebsch - distributor in Los Angeles.

While much of the rest of the country has more involved owners - allowing a wider range of services such as Fluff and Fold - Southern California retains it's mostly partially attended operational model.

This business model allowed Laundromats to be marketed to investors who could benefit from the tax incentives (including at one time very favorable tax credits) that could make a Laundromat a smart investment, even if it only broke even on the balance sheet. If you made enough money from another source, owning a Laundromat that neither made money nor lost money would provide up to a 12% return on investment, funded, of course, by the government.

The character of the Southern California Laundromat still benefits when it is well run and justifies a cash return on money invested. Even "investment Laundromats" require owners to ensure their Laundromats run well and keep their customers happy.

If you want to run a partially attended (or I'll call it a Southern California style Laundromat) the following six rules of operation should be always used:

1) Hours of Operation. Most Laundromats are open from 7AM to 10PM. A few, keep their Laundromats open a little longer, and a very few keep them open 24 hours a day. I recommend that 24 hour stores - and extended hours - be closely monitored for potential vandalism. The hours should be set to accommodate the needs of the neighborhood and the profit potential versus increased maintenance cost.

2) Keep Your Store Clean. A Laundromat is where people from the neighborhood come to wash their clothes and they should be able to expect that you will keep your store clean. You need to hire attendants - either or part time - who understand how to clean. Just time some people have to keep their homes neat, organized, and clean, you need to find a cleaning person who understands and enjoys keeping things neat, organized, and clean.

3) Provide The Right Cleaning Supplies. Clean can only be accomplished if the proper tools are provided. You need to buy Pine-Sol, stainless steel cleaners, mops, buckets, mop heads, window cleaners, hand soap, towels, hand towels, and restroom supplies.

4) Keep Your Washers and Dryers Running. You need to keep your equipment working, and a very effective way to reduce your business is to fail to keep your equipment working, and then fail to provide a cheerful refund if your machines do malfunction. If you are not skilled enough to repair a machine, call a serviceman. A good rule of thumb is "no machine is out of order for more than three days." Repairman will either work on an hourly or monthly contract basis.

5) Monitor Your Contractors. If your Laundromat has vending machines, video games, or other items owned by others, you must monitor their response time. You many not own the equipment - and only earn a percentage of the proceeds - but your customers will consider you 100% responsible for the failures. Make sure your vending contractors treat your customer’s right, or have them pull their machines.

6) Monitor Your Bill Changers and Card Vendors. The most important - and perhaps easiest thing to do - is keep money in your bill changers. If you have a card operated store, make sure the card dispensers working.

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