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Extra Profit Centers Big and Small (Part 2 of 2)

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Service Station Laundry
Nova Randolph opened the laundry portion of The Service Station in December. The doorway leads to the other half of the business housing a tanning salon, Internet kiosks and a copy/fax station. (Photo: The Service Station)

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Service Station Salon
The tanning beds—one a stand-up booth, the other traditional—are generating about as much revenue as the laundry, owner Nova Randolph says. And she’s looking to add a spray tan booth in the future. (Photo: The Service Station)

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Service Station internet
The copy/fax services and the Internet kiosks were just added within the last month or so. (Photo: The Service Station)

Bruce Beggs |

THOMPSONVILLE, ILL. — Equipment distributor Todd Santoro recently shared some thoughts about providing extra services for your laundry customers and how certain additional revenue streams require little extra work to put into place (Coin-Op 101:Extra Creativity Can Lead to Extra Profit).

Today, American Coin-Op takes a look at the second of two laundries that couldn’t be more different as far as geography and demographics are concerned, and how its owner approaches the offering and management of extra profit centers.

THE SERVICE STATION

The Service Station, Thompsonville, Ill., is divided into two parts: it’s half coin laundry and half tanning salon and office center offering copy/fax/scan service and a pair of Internet kiosks.

Owner Nova Randolph grew up in the Southern Illinois village of 600 people. When she returned to Thompsonville several years ago to raise her family, she found that few local businesses remained. Among the shuttered was a coin laundry.

Randolph works full time as an accounting and computer sciences instructor at a community college located a little more than an hour away. During the course of conversation with other Thompsonville residents, she often heard how they had to drive to larger communities 10 to 12 miles away for shopping and other retail services.

“There were no laundry facilities. There was no type of office service available for anyone to make a copy or send a fax. … Also, the Internet service here, the population here is very rural, so the Internet service is only available within 2½ miles of the city limits.

“I came up with the idea to put a bunch of different services together for the community and do them all out of one business. I don’t think any one of those businesses could ever stand on their own.”

Randolph found a centrally located building with access to two highways that carry lots of traffic by her store’s door every day. It was renovated so each half of the store can be accessed independently, yet a doorway inside connects the two halves.

She opened the Laundromat last December and the tanning salon in May. The copy/fax services and the Internet kiosks were just added within the last month or so.

“My original plan was to open it all at once,” she says. “We did most of the work ourselves, other than what was required by law. So it took us from last August until the middle of December to remodel the Laundromat side.”

Midway through the remodeling, Randolph decided that one portion of the multi-service business needed to be completed so it could start generating revenue. “We decided to go ahead and focus on one side of it and get it done and making money. … We were able to get the Laundromat open and leave it open while we over on the other side getting the remodeling done for the tanning and the Internet (kiosks).”

Equipment and remodeling for the “Internet/tanning/fax/copy” area cost approximately $10,000, according to Randolph.

The 1,000-square-foot laundry is equipped with five top loaders, two 20-pound front loaders, five dryers and a stack dryer. She plans to add a triple loader later this year. There are soda and candy venders, plus she plans to add a soap vender soon.

Randolph spends about 45 hours a week at The Service Station during the summer, 30 hours a week while classes are in session. The laundry is attended only when the two-bed tanning salon is open, and a couple of family members step in to manage the business if she has a scheduling conflict.

The laundry is open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The tanning salon is open 3-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and noon to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

It’s not unusual to see folks come in do their laundry and then surf the Internet or take care of some business work while their clothes are washing and drying, Randolph says.

The tanning beds—one a stand-up booth, the other traditional—are generating about as much revenue as the laundry, Randolph says. And she’s looking to add a spray tan booth in the future.

You have to give an extra profit center at least a year to see if it’s worth keeping, she believes. “It would have to make enough that it wouldn’t be more lucrative to put something else there. And there are some things than are much of a pain than others to maintain. If something were a lot of trouble and it’s not bringing in that much extra profit, I would probably look for something else.”

At the time of Randolph’s interview, The Service Station was set to begin offering drop-off laundry service. And she’s not done thinking about adding other extra profit centers. Randolph is now considering adding either a hairdressing station or a nails station to complement the tanning salon.

“I can’t tell you how many people that see me in the Laundromat and thank me for putting this in here,” she says. “That I have just helped them out so much and made their life so much easier.”

Click here for Part 1!

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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