GLENDALE, Ariz. — When you renovate your laundry, getting the biggest bang for your buck doesn’t necessarily mean the cheapest initial costs, but how much value your mat gains over time for your money initially spent. Sometimes things that cost more in the beginning will save you lots of money over time.
In Part 1, we examined renovation opportunities related to folding tables, rebuilt machines, renewed aesthetics and walls. Let’s continue.
Plain or polished concrete is probably your cheapest route for a durable floor, but it’s a plain look and, when polished, can be slippery when wet.
While vinyl composite tile (VCT) can look terrific these days, detergents and water can eventually loosen up the glue. Keep in mind that you will also want a waterproof subfloor.
Some store owners swear by carpet if they are high-quality tiles that can be replaced if stained. Make sure that what you put down is resistant to bleach or you’ll be wasting your money.
Ceramic or porcelain tiles cost more but come in many styles and colors. Make sure you choose a tile whose color and design go all the way through the full thickness of the tile. A high-traffic area can wear down the surface layer.
Also, some commercial tiles will come in three textures for the same tile: 1) polished and shiny (gorgeous but a slip hazard), 2) rough texture (hard to mop completely clean) and 3) slightly rough or flat, non-glossy texture. I always went with option 3.
Gym flooring was brought to my attention by a good friend who owns multiple mats in Florida. He noted that many of the newer gyms have highly durable floors made of rubber, so he tried it. He tells me they are slip-resistant, waterproof, take lots of abuse/traffic, come in many styles/colors, are great sound insulators, will help cushion the fall if someone slips, and will look like new for many years if properly installed.
No matter which floor you go with, proper installation is crucial.
If you are taking over a “disaster” mat, I highly recommend you put in a brand-new storefront with signs, and automatic doors if you can afford them. If any business requires people to carry heavy loads when coming and going, it’s the Laundromat business, yet mats are woefully behind many other retailers in this regard.
A new storefront can cost you some bucks but the bang is terrific for a mat turnaround! This will tell everyone who passes that it’s no longer the same store but now has a new owner who obviously knows what they’re doing. Top it off with a big sign that reads, “Under New Management.”
If you are taking over a well-run mat that people are already happy with, redoing the storefront may not be needed. It could even disappoint some people by signaling there is new management. If it were me, I’d keep your new ownership quiet until the customer base trusts you, but it won’t hurt to clean things up a little.
If you’re renovating a store you’ve owned for a while, be sure to let customers know.
SEATING AND OTHER AMENITIES
There is some great commercial furniture out there by sellers to our industry. Or, you may be able to find some decent-quality chairs and benches at one of the big-box home improvement stores.
I recommend buying benches that seat no more than three people. If they are longer, they should have armrests at the midpoint to separate people, and discourage people from sleeping on them.
A customer’s desire for Wi-Fi has already surpassed TV watching, so you’ve got to catch up on that one if you don’t offer the amenity. People spend at least an hour to 90 minutes in your mat—they want to go online.
And if you have some extra space, put in a safe, secure area where children can play. You want to attract big families, who spend a lot of money in Laundromats.
THE TECHNICAL STUFF
If you’re redoing the plumbing, install quarter-turn ball valve bibs behind the washers rather than the old, screw-down gate valve hose bibs. Ball valves are much easier and quicker to open and close in case of emergency.
While you’re at it, if you’re planning to add more washers in the future, you will need more plumbing capacity. It costs must less to simply go up another size than to have to redo things five years from now; you’ll pay for the labor once instead of twice.
In the meantime, your washers will fill up a little faster, thereby speeding up customer throughput in your mat.
This planning also applies to gas lines, boilers and electrical service. And if you’re thinking of possibly adding air conditioning or supplemental heating, now is the time to at least install the extra infrastructure you’ll someday need.
It’s always been important to get the biggest bang for the buck. Consider these suggestions when renovating and maybe one or more will boost your project’s value.
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.