RIPON, Wis. — Tiny houses, cabins and campers are all the rage. It’s all about downsizing your lifestyle and living a more fulfilling life without a lot of debt and “stuff.”

Along that same line, small-scale laundries often make perfect sense. If done correctly, small-footprint Laundromats can be as profitable as larger-scale operations.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

Depending on the population, a small-footprint laundry in a metro area is about 2,000 square feet, in a more rural area 1,000-1,500 square feet. But just because they have a smaller footprint doesn’t mean you install smaller washing machines and dryers to fit the space. In many struggling small-footprint Laundromats, machines with low capacity and large utility usage are found taking up valuable floor space. Try to maximize space and capacity, and that means going with some larger-capacity equipment.

In fact, some smaller laundries in rural areas have had success with washer-extractors ranging in capacity from 40 to 60 pounds. The same can be said of dryers. You generally want larger dryers, such as 45-pound stacks and 75-pound singles. There is much debate about washer-to dryer ratios in the industry, but when working with small Laundromats, try to match pockets as much as possible.

In a metro area, include some 40-, 60- and even a few 80-pound washer-extractors. But if you’re retooling, you should include some 20-pound models, too, as they will help your customers adapt to the new equipment. To maximize throughput, the core of your equipment should be the larger-capacity machines.

LOOKING AT LAYOUT

Not surprisingly, the shape and size of your building will determine the equipment layout. For example, we’re working on a very narrow store. Another distributor had worked up a layout with 5 feet of space between the washer fronts and dryer fronts. We’re using extractor and tumbler combo machines to maximize the actual space and put in the same amount of equipment. The washer-extractor/tumble dryer unit also reduces the customer’s movement in the store, an important benefit during the COVID-19 crisis when we are trying to limit customers’ time in the laundry.

At another small store of roughly 1,000 square feet, we put dryers on one wall and spread the extractors on two separate walls, giving the equipment layout a U shape. That left the center open for a very large folding table.

With the coronavirus impacting every state, it is more important than ever to make Laundromats roomy. COVID-19 has made people uneasy, and they don’t want to be close to others. Go for a walk in your neighborhood and you’ll see people walk out onto the roadway to avoid being near you. It’s no different in a Laundromat.

People don’t want to be squeezing between people. People want wide walkways to come in and spread themselves out, not narrow aisles and machines that are too close to one another. Spreading things out can be a bit tricky, but it can be done, particularly when you keep in mind throughput vs. the total number of machines.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion!