CHICAGO — When you’re in the market for a delivery vehicle, there are any number of factors that can draw you to one.
Things like load capacity, fuel efficiency, or its size and shape. Don’t forget about maneuverability, maintenance or safety. And if you’re thinking solely about dollar signs, the ownership costs (purchase price, fuel, insurance, etc.) and resale value have to be front and center.
It can be argued that considering these factors plus others is important when trying to choose a vehicle that’s likely to support your laundry delivery business for years.
But don’t allow a glitzy new van with all the bells and whistles to distract you from the specific needs of your laundry operation. What, where and how you deliver should dictate your means of delivery. It’s about integrating a vehicle into your larger operation, not tailoring your operation to fit the four wheels.
Let’s visit a launderer couple to see how they approached choosing the right delivery vehicle.
MULTIPURPOSE IN MOTION
On any given day, residents and visitors of the beach resort community of Spring Lake, New Jersey, may see Thomas or Rebecca Healy behind the wheel of their respective vehicles delivering wash/dry/fold orders for their laundry business, or they could just be running personal errands. You see, the Healys chose vehicles that double as personal vehicles for their family and delivery vehicles for their laundromat.
Their business, Laundry Express of Spring Lake, New Jersey, covers about 1,800 square feet and is equipped with 26 washers and dryers. Its services menu includes self-service, wash/dry/fold with pickup and delivery, and drop-off dry cleaning.
The Healys bought the business in 2018. “They had pickup and delivery already and we just continued and expanded it,” Thomas says.
He drives a Toyota Sienna minivan and Rebecca drives a GMC Acadia SUV. So why the decision to use personal vehicles to provide delivery service?
“Cost basis. It’s very expensive in New Jersey to insure and purchase vehicles. I bought these used,” Thomas says.
At one point, he was considering turning his vehicle over to the business as a “company vehicle” but it would have cost an additional $150 a month to insure it under that arrangement.
The Spring Lake community is “super busy in the summer” and “very dead in the winter,” he says. One attendant can handle the WDF orders in winter but the laundromat staffs up to a crew of five to handle the warm-weather workload.
Thomas describes the laundromat’s service area as being a radius equal to a 20-minute drive one way.
“Twenty minutes for us is probably a lot different than 20 minutes out in West Virginia or something, due to us being so crowded,” he says.
Before their children left for college, there were times when it may have been necessary to schedule deliveries at specific times of day to maintain a business/personal balance. Today, that’s no longer an issue: “Our time is our own at this point, so it’s not difficult to coordinate.”
Thomas is hoping to reach a point where the laundry will have vehicles strictly dedicated to pickup and delivery. “I would love that, personally, if we can reduce wear and tear on our own cars.”
Should he shop for a new delivery vehicle in the future, he expects to lean toward a minivan again due to the ease of getting in and out, good fuel economy, and its configurability.
“I really have no regrets about the path that we took. Sure, when we first started out, we were small, so we had a small vehicle. And as we grew, we got to the point where we outgrew that vehicle and moved up into a larger vehicle. You know, it’s a matter of what vehicles are available, and I bought used vehicles. Again, because of the price point, yeah, I would do it again, similar path.”
In Wednesday’s conclusion: Meet Charlie Crosby of Thorpe’s Laundromat and Dry Cleaning
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].