Be a Smart Shopper When Considering Mall Location (Conclusion)

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(Image: iStock.com/Atlantagreg)

Howard Scott |

Study demographics, area competition before choosing a site

PEMBROKE, Mass. — The good thing about operating in a mall is there are lots of potential customers. Moreover, people who use malls are generally steady and regular visitors; they go there frequently.

The bad thing is there are uniform rules—long hours, frontage demands, and minimum hours-of-operation requirements—that everyone must obey. Secondly, mall locations are usually pricier.

That being said, if you still prefer such a location, you must know this: all malls are not alike.

You must choose one that will work for you. Mainly, that means a shopping complex that will afford you the most exposure to potential customers.

You have to investigate the mall you choose. Gather statistics to make sure there are 30-35% renters in the area. Are the combination of stores advantageous to creating Laundromat traffic? Observe the flow of people into the shops. Is there enough flow that a significant portion of the population will see your Laundromat? Conversely, would few patrons of, say, an upscale mall be laundry customers?

Then travel outside of the mall and see where the competition is. Is it in a more central area so that the majority of local business would continue to use the competitor? Are there adjoining areas that are not serviced well by a Laundromat, meaning your store could service these customers?

Visit the stores and evaluate their competitive potential. Are they marginal operations? Stacked up against your Laundromat, would you win out in attractiveness and convenience? In service and efficiency? If not, then it will be hard to win business away from the competition.

Then do “people” research. Back in the parking lot of your proposed location, speak to mall customers. These are the people who will be your customers. Ask if they use a Laundromat regularly or occasionally. Are they pleased with their current laundry provider? Would they switch if one were opened here? What do they expect of a Laundromat? Inquire if they might be interested in wash/dry/fold pickup and delivery service, even if they’re not regular Laundromat users.

Size up the individual you speak to. Is he or she apt to be a good laundry customer, the type you would like to have? Are there a high percentage of “marginal” people, those who might not respect your Laundromat, would not keep your store clean, might be inclined to get angry and punch a machine when it malfunctions? If so, then this is not your ideal location. Does the area seem sketchy? You might have to install an expensive security system.

Finally, what percentage of the people uses Laundromats versus uses home washers and dryers? The share should tally with the percentage of renters in your area. That is a control test for assessing the accuracy of your data. For example, if there’s supposed to be a 35% rental factor in the area, but only 15% say they use a Laundromat, then your figures are suspicious. Maybe you should redo the survey. Maybe you should analyze what went wrong. At any rate, be skeptical of the results.

In the privacy of your office, study or wherever you do your serious thinking, put all this input in front of you and weigh the factors. Keep running with hypothetical numbers until your gut or head leans one way or another. Then go with that decision. Negotiate a contract in that mall or keep looking for a more suitable location.

Follow this course of study and a mall location will work for you.

Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.

About the author

Howard Scott

Industry Writer and Drycleaning Consultant

Howard Scott is a former business owner, longtime industry writer and drycleaning consultant. He welcomes questions and comments and can be reached by writing Howard Scott, Dancing Hill, Pembroke, MA 02359; by calling 781-293-9027; or via e-mail at [email protected].

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