πŸ’° How to Start a Coin-Operated Laundry

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Read PlanetLaundry, the magazine of the Coin Laundry Association. News, articles, and columns for laundromat owners and the self-service laundry industry​.


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This is a monthly magazine serving the business needs of coin-operated laundry store owners. Product details. Format: Print Magazine; Shipping: Currently, item.


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Paul Partyka, who edited American Coin-Op, a magazine devoted to self-service laundries, said Patel's approach is the norm. "Trying to.


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Coin Op Laundry

Everybody wants to squeeze as much money as possible out of their space. Some of them don't even use coins. If there are already enough laundromats in the neighborhood to serve their needs, they're not as likely to patronize your store. Since they're paying a set amount of rent on their commercial space, they might as well use that space to its fullest potential. However, if you think you'll like meeting new people, helping them work the machines, and listening to them talk while they wait for the dryers to finish, you'll find this business rewarding. Even if you decide to hire employees and leave the customer relations to them, you still need good people skills to hire and supervise employees. If you're planning on operating just one or two stores, you'll be in good company. They'll be hiring and supervising those employees and overseeing additional services such as wash-and-fold. It was excerpted from our Coin-Operated Laundry start-up guide , available from Entrepreneur Bookstore. If you're friendly, your customers will want to use your store. Some also find that they can build a new laundry in an area with competing laundries and thrive by offering a bigger store, more services and better customer relations. They spoke to a number of laundry owners about the business and read as many issues of trade magazines as they could find. Tom Leavitt, owner of Darcies Laundry in the Seattle area at time of interviewing, opened three new stores, all of them near older, smaller laundries, most of which have since closed. Laundry owners are capitalizing on this reality by offering their customers time-saving convenience in the form of wash-and-fold drop-off service and dry-cleaning service. The Laundromat Personality You may think that the laundry business is about clothes, but what it's really about is people. Another trend laundry owners have recognized is that customers prefer to visit laundromats with a more pleasant atmosphere. But the two got to work when Collette's uncle, who was building a strip mall, asked if she'd be interested in operating a laundromat. The steady income that a laundry generates is a plus for many people. It's a service business, and like any service business, you need to treat your customers well if you want them to return to your store. Instead, customers use swipe cards that subtract the cost of the wash or dry, much like a phone card or debit card. With the regular capacity machines used in homes, it can take quite a lot of time to do load after load -- and that's where laundromats come in. Ultimately, this kind of information will help you improve the quality of your business so that you can attract even more customers. Tom Leavitt put some time into planning the three laundries he opened in Seattle. Other social phenomena, like the prevalence of two-income families, suggest that convenient services such as wash-and-fold will continue to grow in popularity as working parents have less time to attend to household chores like laundry. They chose those hours because they're the same hours the nearby gas station is open. One had a resume that included milking cows, another was a contractor, yet another ran a rental equipment business. Those laundry owners who have employees will have other duties, too. Paul Partyka, who edited American Coin-Op, a magazine devoted to self-service laundries, said Patel's approach is the norm. So what's it really like to own a laundry business? Brian De Coster, who owns several unattended laundries in and around Iowa City, Iowa, keeps his stores open 24 hours per day. Whether you do all the work yourself or hire an attendant or a janitor, there are tasks you will need to take care of on a daily basis. While no particular experience is necessary, a business background is always important. Your first duty of the day is to open your store, and you must be on time because your customers may plan their day around getting their laundry done at a certain time.{/INSERTKEYS}{/PARAGRAPH} But more laundry owners are starting to own larger stores and more than one store. Others take the moonlighting approach-they manage other businesses or work a day job. You will need to open and close your store promptly each day, clean it, collect money, and fill vending and change machines. However, there is room for new laundry owners. And as more people wear casual clothing which doesn't require dry cleaning to work and leave the nicer duds for special occasions, you may find that consumers will be making more trips to the laundromat. {PARAGRAPH}{INSERTKEYS}Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 1, , and has been updated. Laundromat Renaissance The coin-operated laundry industry has changed in response to several trends. Finally, you also need to consider that getting into the laundry business requires a large initial investment. The expenses incurred while running a store range between 65 and percent of the gross income. No Experience Necessary None of the entrepreneurs interviewed for the Coin-Operated Laundry start-up guide had experience in the laundry business when they first started out. Customers benefit by being able to use several services all in one convenient location. These people are able to survive on the income larger stores or multiple stores generate. In addition, a background in machine repair or a knack for fixing machines helps. You may be able to draw a little extra business from people who like using your store better because of its cleanliness or from people who use your wash-and-fold service, but the core of your business will be people who just want to get their laundry done quickly and conveniently. The first is that, for most of us, meeting the demands of work and our personal lives leads to a time crunch -- there just aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish everything we would like to. While there are no national laundry chains, a few local chains are starting to grow in various parts of the country. Darcies offers customers a better deal: bigger stores with play areas for children and attendants on duty at all times. Dave and Kris Anderson, who own an unattended laundry in New Glarus, Wisconsin, keep their store open daily from a. In some instances, you may want to adopt alternate hours, especially if the market you serve or the location of your store lends itself to having open doors at other times of the day. If you have an unattended laundry that you visit twice a day to clean and collect quarters, you still need to greet your customers with a smile on your face and an attitude that's ready to help. The industry is what experts describe as a "mature market. So if small talk with strangers leaves you cold, and you can't stand the thought of answering customers' questions often the same ones over and over , the laundry business may not be the one for you. Many get into the business by purchasing an existing laundry and renovating it. Three-quarters of laundry owners own only one store, and very few have more than two. In addition, owners have realized that they can maximize their profits by providing customers with access to multiple services. Many owners around the country are serving food, renting mailboxes and offering free internet access. Another way to get into the business is to locate your store where there is the best potential need for a new laundry: in an area that's experiencing population growth. In other words, although the majority of laundromat customers are low- to middle-income renters, some laundries are tapping into higher-income markets by offering convenience: wash-and-fold service and large machines. You'll need to be very careful to make sure there's enough of a customer base to make your business thrive. Don't buy a store just because it's for sale or build a store just because you have a great idea for a new gimmick. Wallace says these profit margins have less to do with the size of the store than with its owner. Looking for an extra service that will work is always on their mind. Owners who have experience with laundry equipment are able to cut down on the cost of repairs. As you consider getting into the laundry business, keep the words "mature market" in mind. But others have found that they can learn about the machines and make some repairs themselves, or hire a repairperson and avoid the headache altogether. Most just decided that starting a laundry was a good business opportunity. These chains are still quite localized, though, and only a few consist of more than a few dozen. Because his laundry is unattended, he doesn't have to pay employees to stay up all night with his store. According to a survey from the Coin Laundry Association, more than half of coin laundries offer wash-and-fold. Some are even picking up laundry from customers' homes and delivering it back to them clean and folded. In some areas of the country, there are too many laundromats already. Collette Clarkson knew nothing about the business before she started a laundromat in Evans, Colorado, with Kim Clarkson, her business partner. By taking the time to talk to them, you will also be able to learn about their laundry needs and their preferences for services. For a little more than half of laundry owners, operating the store s is their full-time job. The amount of money you can make from a laundry varies tremendously. Because weekends are usually the busiest days for laundries, you should definitely keep your doors open on Saturdays and Sundays. You will also need to keep track of which machines are being used and how often. With enough enthusiasm, interest and business-savvy, you can join the club and succeed in the industry. If you're looking for a business that will keep the cash flowing no matter what the rest of the economy is doing, you've found it in laundries. Many laundry owners are building kids' centers, holding music concerts, giving away coffee and hiring attendants who are friendly and helpful. The coin-operated laundry industry has undergone a revolution. The Bad News While the trends we've mentioned are favorable for entrepreneurs entering the laundry business, they don't suggest that business is booming. Clean clothes are a necessity, not a luxury, so people are going to use laundromats no matter how the stock market is performing. The more closely you work with them and the better they know and like you, the better job they'll do. The business is also fairly steady month in, month out. Many laundry owners also employ attendants to keep an eye on the store and help customers use the equipment. However, they all recommend that new entrepreneurs research the business by talking to laundry owners, joining associations and reading the trade literature. Other laundry owners we interviewed base their hours on surrounding businesses. The self-service laundry business is an open club. Three of his four laundromats are in a college town, and students are notorious for keeping odd hours. These additional services demand little increase in overhead because the rent is already paid for. So unless you draw on vacationers' dollars in a place with seasonal tourism, you'll find that you can count on a fairly steady income throughout the year. An owner who runs his or her store well-who keeps it clean, repairs its equipment quickly, uses energy-efficient systems and offers good customer service-will see profit margins of about 35 percent. The Good News As the population of the United States grows, the number of renters -- your main market -- is likely to grow, too. In addition, office dress codes are growing increasingly less formal. No longer dingy, unsafe, boring places that customers must endure on a weekly basis, laundromats are becoming fun and attractive multiservice centers that customers may even enjoy visiting.