RIPON, Wis. — There are many factors that contribute to running a successful Laundromat business, including the partnership you have with your distributor, equipment mix, amenities, ancillary services, hours, pricing and customer demographic, but perhaps the most important factor is the location of your store.
Whether you’re opening a new Laundromat or moving your current store to a different location, it is important to carefully evaluate nearby competitors, location visibility, parking options, adjacent businesses, demographics of the surrounding area and the building’s utilities infrastructure.
When it comes to searching for and selecting a site that your business can thrive in, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind.
ANALYZING CUSTOMER DEMOGRAPHICS
Vended Laundromats are everywhere, scattered across many different areas with diverse demographics. To find a location with the ideal demographic mix, look at areas with a high concentration of your target customers; most of the time, this is an urban setting with a high renter population.
Household size and income are factors you should look into and understand, but they can vary greatly from region to region, as can cost of living. Population density and renter population numbers are the best indicators of whether or not a Laundromat is a sensible investment in a particular area. More often than not, other demographic criteria seem to fall into place, such as a lower- to middle-income population (approximately 40% of all households earning less than $35,000 per year use Laundromats) and an average household size of 2.3 and more.
You can find this demographic data by visiting the U.S. Census website, or working with your distributor directly. Leverage your distributor’s in-depth knowledge of the area to determine if a location is a good investment for you or not.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
When considering a location for a new Laundromat, you will want to analyze a 1- to 3-mile radius of the site with a goal of at least 30% of the population beings renters (50% or more would be ideal).
It is safe to assume that if someone is renting an apartment, they likely don’t have a washer and dryer in their unit. There may be a communal laundry room, but even then, statistics show that 30% of renters will go outside of their apartment complex to do their laundry. With the efficiency, speed and number of machines one might find at a modern Laundromat, they know there will be machines available that can clean their clothes in less time.
Next, the physical location of a Laundromat is a key factor in its success or failure. A space on a main roadway with high visibility and dedicated parking are guidelines for an ideal location. Ideal co-tenants include grocery stores, convenience stores, automotive parts stores and check-cashing establishments.
Laundromats have the potential to be run successfully anywhere with the right ownership, but they may be the most successful in or next to a high-traffic shopping center.
The best location is as close as possible to where your target customer base is going for their weekly shopping. In doing so, they will see your Laundromat as a reminder of an errand they need to run, as well as realize they can drop off their laundry and run other errands simultaneously.
IMPORTANCE OF PARKING
Parking can make or break a Laundromat location. If a customer can’t find parking close to your store, they may go elsewhere. Find a location with head-in parking spaces that cover at least two sides of the building your Laundromat occupies. For every 1,000 square feet that your store occupies, you should have four dedicated parking spaces.
Perhaps most importantly, the nature of the Laundromat business requires parking that is easily accessible to patrons. Ease of access into a parking space is a primary consideration when selecting a site. Loading and unloading laundry can be a cumbersome process, and you want to make it as easy as possible for your customers. Setting up a designated loading and unloading zone can help immensely.
It’s also vital to ensure that parking is not burdened with adjacent high-volume businesses, such as a busy restaurant. You don’t want patrons of neighboring businesses using your parking lot during meal times when your customers need it. Work with the property manager to negotiate dedicated parking spots into your lease, as well as posted signs if you share a lot with other businesses.
Check back Thursday for the conclusion: Analyzing the competition; building infrastructure; and mutual benefits
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].