AZUSA, Calif. — Eddie Qaqish entered the laundromat business after a successful career in the retail auto business, where he was general sales manager of a thriving Nissan dealership. He retired from the auto industry to turn his focus to building promising retail enterprises on his own.
His first venture, according to commercial laundry distributor Western State Design, was acquiring, remodeling and reopening a liquor store in a shopping center a few blocks from his home. His “Super Liquor” store has been so successful that Qaqish plans to expand it and purchase the smoke shop next door.
A few years after acquiring the liquor store, Qaqish jumped at the opportunity to take over the lease on an old, rundown laundromat in the same shopping center in March 2019. He says the 2,200-square-foot laundromat was more than 25 years old, had a hodgepodge of equipment, no service, and had not been upgraded for many years.
Part 1 of this article charted Qaqish’s development of his store, including the Dexter Laundry equipment he acquired to retool it entirely. Let’s continue.
CONSULT AN EXPERT TO AVOID COMMON MISTAKES
Steve Erlinger, a coin laundry industry veteran with Western State Design who’s helped many laundromat owners achieve success, knew from experience that it made sense for Qaqish to retool completely from the start.
Over the years, Erlinger has witnessed more than a few operators waste time and money trying to limp by with old, decrepit equipment in a dark, dingy store. He’s long stressed the importance of laundromat customer service in order to stand out from the competition.
Qaqish quickly realized the value of the new equipment as he spent time interacting with customers and began to understand what drove new business.
In addition to boasting a full complement of modern, high-efficiency Dexter commercial laundry equipment, the owner realized he could attract even more customers by making his store a more appealing and welcoming space. He freshened up the exterior and the interior and added popular amenities such as plenty of free parking, free Wi-Fi, and fully stocked soap and snack vending machines.
FULL SERVICE ADDS VALUE
Having seen the value in providing customers with exceptional customer service, Qaqish hired full-time attendants. He also started offering fluff-and-fold service, after learning best practices from a consultant. He accepts bags in three sizes that customers can fill with laundry to bring in to be washed, dried and folded: small ($20), medium ($30) and large ($40). Always the entrepreneur, he sells the bags, too.
Super Wash Coin Laundry is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Qaqish says business is booming and he has yet to advertise outside of the “Grand Opening” sign that hung at the store entrance. When he asks people how they heard about the store, they tell him it is because of the sign or word-of-mouth.
“I love the business as it’s much less stressful than selling cars,” Qaqish says. “But more importantly, I enjoy meeting and getting to know the people and hearing how thankful they are for such a great store for the neighborhood. The more relaxed work schedule is also nice!”
There are certain things an owner has to do well and pay attention to in the laundry business, Qaqish believes, but doing so isn’t really hard. You just have to be diligent and consistent, he says.
Asked if he had any regrets, Qaqish says he wishes he would have bought more of the 60-pound washers because “customers love them.”
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected] .