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Coin-Op 101: Summer is Perfect Time to Retool Your Store (Conclusion)

GULF BREEZE, Fla. — The temperatures are rising, kids are out of school, and all those heavy sweaters and cold-weather gear are packed away until fall. While not the case for all vended laundries, loads are getting smaller and the summer slowdown is hitting — unless your laundry is in a vacation/resort area hot spot. Then you might be heading into a busy time.

But for the majority of owners, summer is a “catch your breath” period. That’s why I think of summer as a great time for Laundromat investors to take a look at their results and business as a whole. While some might argue that the best time for that is at year’s end, when all the numbers are in, I think finding a point in early summer to look at year-over-year and historic data might be better.

Reviewing your operation now, during a slower time, brings clarity and makes it the perfect season to explore retooling and upgrading. Summer is most definitely retool time.

A LOOK AT EQUIPMENT

Demographics will drive your equipment upgrade strategy. Generally, the industry is going larger. In many of our store designs, we are cutting out the 30-pound washers, and jumping from the 20-pound unit to 40-, 60- and 80-pound capacities. Even 100 pounds is becoming commonplace in larger locations.

Summer retooling is the time to focus on technology upgrades. New machines are great but will they have the features to increase profitability? Giving customers greater flexibility to upgrade their wash (hot water, extra rinse, etc.) is almost mandatory today. Numbers we have seen definitely tell this story – customers will go beyond the basic wash a high percentage of the time. That means additional revenue for owners and more satisfied customers.

Along with equipment, retool time gives an opportunity to review systems and processes. Are you spending more time managing the business and is this preventing you from scaling? Make it a point to review management systems available. They may assist in not only reducing time spent managing the business, but offer insights into store usage that enable you to maximize profitability.

EXTREME LAUNDRY MAKEOVER

The all-in makeover of homes, restaurants, you name it, is all the rage on TV. And while it may not be an option for every owner, reconfiguring your store can have the maximum impact on customers. As I think about retooling a store, at the very least, I recommend upgrading bulkheads. Why install new equipment on old plumbing and gas lines?

Similarly, if larger, more efficient equipment is on the retool list, it may be time to upgrade the water heating system. Tankless systems not only deliver gallons of hot water on demand, they also are far more efficient than tank systems.

Think outside the box. Are solar panels an option for your store? If so, it may be worth looking into grants from your utility company that may make installing this alternative energy source more affordable. New windows and doors also may provide an energy-saving boost as well as an aesthetic one.

IN CLOSING

Summer is the perfect time to retool a Laundromat. It is up to each owner to gauge the level to which they are willing to attack the project. At one end of the spectrum is the paint refresh, new signage and more modern seating/tables, the other end is new equipment, systems and layout.

True, the latter comes with a higher price tag, but it also comes with a variety of elements that give customers a reason to visit your laundry. It offers an opportunity to win more customers as well as drive a premium in the marketplace. When you offer more of an experience, clients will pay more for it. But owners must be grounded with the data to drive their summer retool decisions. From there, it’s about leveraging available technologies to better manage the businesses to maximum profitability. This is where owners can rely on their distributor to help them better understand all the business benefits of these new technologies.

Whether you opt for the extreme makeover or not, do something this summer to give your Laundromat a refresh.

Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.

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Get to know Laurance Cohen, author of the popular American Coin-Op column who got his start in self-service laundry at age 8.

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