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Coin-Op 101: Technology is Key to Scaling Vended Laundry (Part 1)

Owning laundry is work, and owning multiple stores starts with processes

MANTECA, Calif. — There once was a popular misconception that the vended laundry business was great because it required little time and effort on the part of the owner. We all know that’s not really the case. Success in this, or any, business requires effort on the part of the owner.

Today’s vended laundry is far from an absentee venture. It obliges owners to have a plan. They must be tuned in to operations to make tweaks to the way things run. Marketing and pricing alone necessitate the owner to be plugged in to how customers are interacting with the store and equipment. Time and again, others in this column have mentioned the “experience” that today’s modern Laundromat offers (and customers have come to expect). That requires effort on the part of the owner.

Bottom line is that owning a laundry is work. Now what if you want to, or already own, three, four, five or more? It’s all about scaling and that starts with processes, engaging today’s cutting-edge technology and the owner understanding it cannot be done alone; attendants, quality attendants that owners trust, can carry the weight.


The first step in scaling your business starts with valuing your time. As owners, we can take on almost every task in our business, but that doesn’t mean we should. Take your vending machines, for example. Consider how much that element is grossing in a typical month. Now consider if, as the owner, it is worth your time to be vending machine supply shopper and stocker.

Yes, you could take on the task, but wouldn’t your time be better served managing larger components of the business? In my case, I asked my attendant to take on this duty, giving them a percentage of the profit. They are incentivized to stay plugged in to what sells to maximize sales, and I have a piece of the day-to-day store activity pulled off my list. The question to ask: Is the task strategic? If the answer is no, delegate it.

With me being an hour and 20 minutes away from the store, it’s imperative that I put a heavy value on my time and empower staff to operate with minimal questions. I knew this would be the case from the start. It’s why I put significant effort into creating a highly detailed policy and procedure manual. My time was well-served creating this document, which details, step-by-step, everything from how to open up the store and what to do if the lights go out to what to do if someone slips on the floor. New employees are tested on this manual, and it remains in perpetual growth as we continue to add content. Again, the goal is to empower staff, limit their questions and limit my visits to the store.


With staff taking on a variety of tasks and having a procedure manual to walk them through other situations that might otherwise mean a call to me, I’m able to focus on growth and management. This is where it’s imperative to have systems that enable me to manage the store remotely.

The foundation of that is rooted in networked laundry equipment. Owners who do not embrace this technological gift that manufacturers have given us will struggle to scale their business. The cornerstone to my management is logging into my Quantum system at 10 p.m. daily to look at overall sales, turns by machine, revenue by machine and identify any trends. As I grow my business to multiple locations, this capability will be exponentially more important.

But it’s not enough just to have a handle on the data if you aren’t acting on it.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion!

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(Image licensed by Ingram Publishing)

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected] .