Saturday, May 28, 2011

Make Money Owning A Laundromat Or Coin Laundry

My girlfriend Clarisa (who I think has the best smile in the world!) were talking business things while we were having our nails done. (She had her toenails done too. . . )   Of course, we had finished talking about our families and the men in our lives, so we decided to prove that being a girl and a latina didn't mean we we couldn't discuss serious things.  I work for a Laundromat distributor, so I picked them to talk about and this is what we came up with.  Laundromats, quite simply, offer a place for patrons to do their wash. A few washers, a few driers, a folding table or two and you're set, right? Not really. To run a profitable laundromat, there are several factors to consider, such as location, energy efficiency, the quality of equipment used, vending, services offered and more.  

On the plus side of the business, coin laundries are fairly recession-proof enterprises. No matter what the stock market does, how high unemployment rises or how rocky the economy gets, people will still need to wash and dry their clothes.
Clarisa wants a Laundromat

It's also a business which requires very few employees to run, which cuts down on expenses. On the flip side, however, according to the Coin Laundry Association, the cost of running a laundromat ranges from 65% to 115% of the money coming in. So choosing your location, equipment and services offered carefully is important for turning a good profit.

One of the most important aspects of the laundromat business is location. Patrons who use them tend to be young and single or young families often apartment dwellers or college students without decent laundry facilities at home.

Since most people look for a spot close to home to do their weekly or bi-weekly wash, choosing a location near several apartment complexes or a university is a good idea. The location should also offer ample parking for the convenience of the patrons.
The quality and energy efficiency of the laundry equipment you choose is also an important part of the business. People soon learn which facilities keep their equipment in good working order and which ones don't.
Many newer commercial washing machines and driers offer heightened energy efficiency over older models as well, keeping your patrons happy and your energy costs low. These machines also offer various payment options, such as coin or reusable payment card operation.

If you want to take on extra staff, full-service laundry and folding services are also a great way to attract extra business. For an extra fee, busy patrons can just drop off their laundry and pick it up later.  One important thing to remember, no matter what your business plan, is that the laundromat business is much like the restaurant business. People are not merely washing their clothes; they're spending a lot of time there on a regular basis. If you make the experience pleasant, they'll return. If not, they'll go elsewhere, just like with a bar, restaurant or cafe.

A well run laundromat can be a great business venture to get into. It offers steady income, loyal clientele and very little staff to run.  In the spirit of honesty, Clarisa and I only spent about ten minutes on the subject (maybe a little less) but we talk fast and had lots of other important things to talk about, especially the sales on clothes at. . .  :)

                         -The Latina Laundromat Advisor

Laundromat Soap Products Loved By Your Hispanic Customers

If you own a Laundromat with a large customer base of Hispanic customers you will see the plastic bags of soap powder coming into your store.  The brand is ARIEL and is a high sudsing product of Proctor and Gamble.  I'm told it is actually an old formula of Tide with an extra dose of fragrance.
Ariela - seen with her laundry - loves Ariel for the smell

Ariel creates a lot of suds and was designed to overcome Mexican hard water and the joy we Latinas receive from looking at the bubbly white foam.  It just smells and looks clean!  My girlfriend Ariela absolutely loves the smell, and with three children and a husband in construction, her household produces a lot of dirty laundry.

Attempting to convert your customers to a low suds detergent, designed in response to front load washers whipping soaps in to clogging gobs of foam, is going to be difficult.  Remember, I was raised to believe that a little extra soap helped make the clothes a little cleaner.I know better by education, but I still find it hard to stop putting in an little extra soap whenever I have a badly soiled load of clothes.  As a Laundromat owner, I suggest you keep a gallon of Downey (50% water and 50% Downey) in a convenient location.  Pouring this into the soap dispenser will knock down the suds quickly before they back up and go all over your floors.

If you really wanted to get my Hispanic family to try a low suds variety of detergent, you'd have to give it away.  Well, now there's an idea, isn't it?  If you have a problem with "over soaping and sudsing" in your Laundromat, buy a five gallon tub of inexpensive lower suds soap powder from Costco, or Smart and Final, and give it away for free.

Speaking of free, how about the Laundromat owner who wrote signs in Spanish offering "free dry" and provided a box of clothes pins and coils of rope available for those wanted their "free dry."  Part of me says funny, most of me says not so funny.  The store owner and Ariela thought it was funny.

                                      -The Latina Laundromat Advisor

Mold Problems In Some Front Load Washers

A popular washer brand used in Laundromats is Maytag.  Another big name is Whirlpool.  Not long ago Maytag and Whirlpool (Maytag is now owned by Whirlpool) started making a new model front load washer based on the Whirlpool Duet, Duet Sport or Duet HT for use in Laundromats and Coin Laundries.

My girlfriend Marisol says a class action lawsuit was filed In April 2009 against Whirpool for their Duet based washers.  It is named the "In re: Whirlpool Corp. Front-Loading Washer Products Liability Litigation."  She works as an attorney in a large Los Angeles law firm and is always telling me things that she reads that relate to Laundromat issues.

Marisol the lawyer
The lawsuit charges that their Duet based front loading washers are defectively designed, and that "the design defects create foul moldy and mildew odors that permeate the washing machines and are unusable in the manner, to the extent to, and for the purpose for which the Whirlpool washing machines were advertised, marketed, and sold."  In California the lawsuit cites California Civil Code § 1791(a).

I'm not sure the problem is a continuing design problem (remember the lawsuits about the Maytag Neptune line of washers) or an unavoidable aspect of front load washers.  This will be left up to the attorneys and the judge and jury to decide. 

Maytag makes such great washers I just can't believe there is anything that Maytag or Whirlpool would build and sell that would not be a great product.  I'm sure that they'll discover a solution even if it's found they did have an initial problem.

I'm sure Maytag/Whirpool will stand behind their wahsers.  Marisol told me to add the below disclaimer and never to never blog about anything that isn't true or just my opinion.

In the meantime, you should always leave the lids up on your top load washers and the doors of all your front load washers open when not in use - especially at night.  This allows the inside of the washer to dry and provides a secondary benefit of allowing the rubber gasket (prevents water from leaking) to "rest" and expand during the night.

You may have to work with your cleaning staff to have them leave the washer doors open because most attendants (and owners) think the Laundromat looks better when the washer doors are closed.

                                          -The Latina Laudromat Advisor

"Whirlpool Duet," "Whirlpool Duet Sport," and "Whirlpool Duet HT" are registered trademarks of Whirlpool, USA. Any use of trademarks are for informational and product identification purposes only.

Laundromat Owners Need Certain Insurance Coverages To Satisfy Lease Provisions

Florita knows lease provisions
Two often overlooked items are detailed below.  Begin a review of your insurance by reading your lease and the lease requirements for insurance coverage.  My friend Florita knows a lot about insurance and lease provisions.  I got this picture of her during one of her "I know more than you do" sessions at a family party, but let's review what she told me about Laundromat insurance items that are often overlooked.

First, the lease can require a minimum rating for the insurance company or a minimum financial strength.  There are lots of items you can reduce but Landlord required insurance coverage is not one of them.

Second, insure you have parking lot insurance.  Although you may not own the parking lot, you will still be named in any lawsuit where someone gets hurt on broken pavement or trips on a laundry cart and tumbles to the ground.  You should protect your customers and this includes the pavement, lighting and monitoring of other dangers in your parking areas.

Remember to protect yourself by sending a certified letter to your Landlord asking they fix the problems including pavement repairs or exterior lights.  Use common sense and ask for police help when you see any type of danger inside your Laundromat or parking area and follow up with a written notification to your Landlord.

Florita is not only intelligent and pretty, she has a great sense of humor.  Except for biting her nails when she's stressed out, I don't see why she still hasn't found the right man.  I personally believe it's because she is holding out to meet a man who owns a Laundromat. :)

                               -The Latina Laundromat Advisor

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Free Dry In Your Laundromat: Does It Really Work?

I'm often asked if offering free dry is a good idea in a Laundromat; does it really draw in customers.  As a woman I can tell you that "FREE" carries a lot of weight.  The short and simple answer is that Free Dry Laundromats do increase volume and attract attention.
My buddy Mercedes is a perfect example of someone who loves Free Dry.  In fact, she loves anything that she can get for free.  She'll ask me to ride with her to Newport Beach to a free sandwich with the purchase of one of equal value.  Free has a huge impact on women (maybe men as well, but I can only verify it impacts women plenty)  Discount, Free, Special are three of my favorite words.  Free is best!

One study conducted some years ago involved three similar Laundromat locations.  One was priced 50 cent wash and 50 cent dry.  A second was 75 cent wash and 25 cent dry.  The third was $1.00 and free dry.  The volume in the free dry store increased tremendously.  Free dry in Laundromats works.

Additional benefits include:  a much quicker collection process, since the dryers to not have to be collected.  An ability for your Laundromat customer to determine their final cost in using your Laundromat to wash their clothes.

The downside problems of free dry in a typical Laundromat increase utility expenses, people who only dry and do not wash in your Laundromat and finally people seldom report when the dryers fail to heat.

The new line of very high speed washers sold by Wascomat, Electrolux and Continental Girbau allow the reintroduction of the free dry concept to Laundromats.

The Hispanic belief is that a germicidal benefit is achieved when clothes are put out in the sun to dry.  In fact, this is actually scientifically true.  Any remaining bacteria is killed by the rays of the sun.  This is the ultimate "free dry" but a clothes lines and clothes pins are unlikely to attract much happiness if you promote "free dry" in your Laundromat by offering a clothes line out the back door. :)

Hope this attracts some comments from others who have benefited or fail to benefit from the "free dry" Laundromat concept.

-The Latina Laundromat Advisor

Mercedes loves FREE anthing including sunshine :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Relief Available From Contaminated Laundromat Washer Water: Ozone Sanitizing

I discovered a solution for contaminated water at the 2011 Clean Show in Las Vegas. My fellow worker Liz and I searched the convention center for new ideas. The one idea that made the biggest impression on me was the exhibition of a water heater company named Hamilton Engineering. It was marketing an Ozone injected system that sanitizes the water used in a Laundromat. This means no more dirty water, and you no longer have to wash your baby's blanket in someone else's dirty water.

Xandy wants Ozone washing. . .
My girlfriend in the picture is Xandy, and she loves to wear frilly nighties. She swears she wears these items because they're comfortable, but I don't believe her. I have a few private items and I know why I wear them and it's not to be comfortable. Here's a picture I snapped at our last pajama party, now tell me if you think it looks comfortable.  It just made me want to go to the gym the next day. 

Anyway, I was telling her about the article I read - that 50% of home washers are contaiminated with fecal matter. Disgusting! And that percentage must be much higher in Laundromats.

The dirty secret of the Laundromat industry is that the leftover water in washers means that the next user is really washing their clothes in someone else's dirty water. Iccchhhh!!!!!  (Did I spell that correctly?) Little germs, infections, dirty underwear residue, dirty diapers, bacteria and who knows what else are pooling around your clothes when you use a washer after a stranger has washed their own "dirty laundry."

This product has been around for years,  and is currently used by nursing homes, hospitals, and even prison systems.  Infections, colds, and bacterial infections are common in these places and the expensive systems used were not affordable to an individual Laundromat owner.  Now they are; even Xandy is looking for a store that has installed the new system.  What a competitive advanatage over the other Laundromats in your area.  See... and you thought I might not have anything good to share with you?  ;)

       -The Latina Laundromat Advisor