GLENDALE, Ariz. — Once you buy an existing laundromat, how do you take the needed action to adapt it to your operational vision? Moreover, what actions are needed?
There are different goals for different buyers, so what is it you are looking to accomplish? Did you buy for a short-term flip, the tax benefits, or some side income? Are you looking to grow a chain, or is it just something to keep you busy after retirement?
No matter what the goal, if you want to achieve your vision, you should have invested enough money to reach a tipping point where you can “wow” the public.
In Part 1, I wrote about choosing your path and becoming “new management.” Let me conclude:
SO WHAT IS YOUR CONCEPTION?
Now, assuming you have already assembled a great team of professionals that includes an accountant, a lawyer and a distributor that you can trust, you are ready to construct your plan.
If you want only tax write-offs, then building from scratch may be more appealing, using the write-offs until you flip the business. However, one pitfall is letting the mat go downhill. A laundromat’s appearance and appeal can decay quite quickly if you aren’t paying attention.
If you want to grow a business, you will pay attention to as many details you can think of.
If you have a job that you are leaving, or that you can get some time away from, you can give your mat a lot more detailed attention, and that can draw customers. After all, this is a business like many others. It requires management, such as maintaining the store and equipment; advertising and promotion, both physically and virtually; overseeing a team of employees; dealing with regulations; etc.
What if you have a unique vision that sets your mat apart from all the others? That’s great, and has been tried many times before in many different ways. Some were successful, and some weren’t.
It’s been my experience that the ones who fail are too focused on their unique vision, at the expense of paying attention and actually managing their mat.
Your vision alone won’t save you if you ignore the basics of mat management. Those are a well-maintained store that’s kept immaculately clean; machines that are operational; competitive pricing that gives good value; and, of course, friendly, professional customer service from your crew.
Gimmicks may get someone in the door the first time but if you don’t have the basics, you’ll be hard-pressed to get them to return.
I’ve seen some interesting combinations that have come and gone: mat and saloon; mat and exercise machines; mat and grocery store; mat and tanning booths.
All these unique mats require at least two areas of expertise: 1) the laundromat, and 2) the ancillary business.
It seems to me that you are better off having, say, a grocery business first, and expanding into an empty store next door to build your laundromat. Knock down the walls separating the two stores, and hopefully each business will complement each other and add sales.
PROMOTING YOUR VISION
No matter what your conception is, once you’ve done your planning and due diligence, and purchased your mat, you’ll need to promote it.
You’ll need a great website, and I recommend getting a professional to help you create it.
Just like a great storefront helps to trigger the decision for someone to try your place, so does your online presence. After all, this presence will be the face of your business and thus extremely important.
Once you have a great business website, you can advertise on Facebook, Google, even YouTube. Make a video to showcase your mat, and add it to your website. How-to videos, such as tips for removing stains in laundry, are also useful.
You can also build a customer list for texting or emailing, but be careful not to overdo push promotions, lest you become a pest. That said, having a customer’s contact information can be helpful for service work. In fact, it’s imperative for pickup and delivery.
If you want to try pickup and delivery, I highly recommend that you produce a custom app for your service that customers can conveniently use. The act of a customer simply calling your store to arrange a pickup or delivery is being overtaken by technology. The app can display pickup and delivery times, and allow for payment with credit cards.
Finally, you need a great crew. Part of your planning is to be ready from day one with your crew to take care of your customers. This is key for any business.
In the end, I think you’ll have a hard time achieving your vision without happy, well-motivated employees.
I wish you all the best in achieving your vision.
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].