CHICAGO — No matter their industry, many business owners aspire to see their business grow.
Though business owners can use many different metrics to measure this, one way those in the coin laundry industry strive for growth is through the acquisition or building of multiple stores.
And being able to effectively manage more than one coin-op is an important topic, as evidenced by the Coin Laundry Association’s (CLA) educational session titled The Keys to Successful Multiple Store Management at the recent Clean Show in New Orleans.
Bob Neiman, who edits the CLA’s members publication, moderated the panel, and explained that roughly a third of coin laundry store owners own multiple locations. According to a recent CLA survey, 65% of Laundromat owners own just one store, 23% own two, 7% own three, 2% own four, and 3% own five or more stores.
With the various responsibilities that come with owning a coin laundry—from the day-to-day operations of cleaning and handling customer concerns, to managing staff and bookkeeping duties—how can a store owner ensure that he or she is effectively managing the multiple locations?
For many store owners who own multiple locations, having a checklist of things to inspect is paramount.
CHECKING OFF A CHECKLIST
“As much as we can, we systematize the whole business,” Bob Schwartz, owner and founder of SuperSuds Management, tells American Coin-Op. “Whether it’s daily checklists, weekly checklists, quarterly checklists, we have it all documented.”
Schwartz broke into the industry in 1996 when he and his wife purchased their first store in Fredericksburg, Va. Since then, utilizing his background on Wall Street, he explained that he’s purchased two to three stores every year, fixing up and operating existing coin laundries.
Though he has since closed some of his locations, to date, Schwartz operates 24 coin-operated laundries under SuperSuds Management across various locations in the Northeast. His newest store recently opened in Cleveland, and two more are currently under development.
One of his tactics in managing his stores is delegating a “hundred-point checklist” of 25 items he requires his managers/attendants to inspect on a regular basis, which includes things such as how clean the store’s floor is; the cleanliness of the washers, soap trays and folding tables; and if any of the interior lights need replacement.
“That’s part of [the manager’s] bonus evaluation every year,” says Schwartz, who is also a Speed Queen distributor. “Not only do they get bonuses…but if it doesn’t meet a certain point threshold, then they’re going to be under review for termination.”
Though Schwartz primarily has his attendants perform the clerical and janitorial duties at his stores, Dave Menz, owner of Queen City Coin Laundry in the Cincinnati area, takes a more hands-on approach when it comes to handling his store’s to-do lists.
Menz’s start in the coin laundry industry began in March 2010, when he purchased an existing coin laundry just four miles from his personal residence in Amelia, Ohio.
He explains that as business picked up, he “caught the coin laundry bug,” because in the six months that he began operating his first location, he had already started looking for a second location, and purchased another store just 20 minutes away on the other side of the county in Milford, Ohio. He opened there in January 2011.
Though he admits to delegating the cleaning duties to his staff, and the major repairs of machines to his distributor H-M Company’s service department, he still plays a personal role in physically tending to his stores.
“A lot of what I’m doing is janitorial type of things,” says Menz. “I estimate I spend about 50% of my time on things like changing light bulbs, fixing/repairing the toilet…changing the filter on the furnaces and collecting money.”
Bill Rhodes, owner of Rhodes Enterprises, takes a similar approach as Menz. Rhodes, who owns three coin-operated laundries in the Huntington Beach, Calif., area, tells American Coin-Op that in addition to processing money, he performs any necessary maintenance in one of his locations in Catalina, Calif.
“I do most of the maintenance because it costs $500 to bring a [repairman] there, so I’ve learned how to fix [equipment],” he says.
Rhodes advises multi-store owners to brush up on repair skills. “Even if you don’t do your own repairs, I think you need to be able to know what your repair guys are doing. If you have the ability, you need to learn as much as you can.”
Check back Tuesday for Part 2 of our story!