MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — Laurent Broda is back on the beach. He’s not hitting the surf, but making waves once again in Miami Beach’s coin-op scene.
Five years after taking the plunge with his first My Sunny Laundry on the famed isle’s north end, this clothier-turned-launderer is now basking in the success of a retool that sits pretty in oh-so-trendy South Beach.
But this recent addition to his seven-store-strong chain is also his smallest, coming in at just 1,000 square feet. Make no mistake, with laundries dotting the metro Miami map from the ocean coast on the east to Hialeah on the west and Cutler Bay to the south, Broda is by no means downsizing operations. Rather, he’s proving that good things do indeed come in tiny packages.
EMPLOYING A TONED AND TANNED IMAGE
My Sunny Laundry South Beach and its decidedly young customer base are given a choice to pay for any washer and dryer with traditional quarter coins or through a smartphone app. The dual-pay format is also on offer at the chain’s largest location in Miami Lakes and others.
Delivering his Miami Beach customers a new 24-washer/16-dryer pocket equipment package, meticulously maintained upscale décor, and cycle pay options resulted in self-service sales more than doubling, the operator reports, accounting for two-thirds of the venue’s revenue stream.
South Beach’s toned and tanned image was employed to promote My Sunny Laundry in a pair of provocative television ads staged inside the Alton Road branch, where a male and female patron take turns stripping down to their underwear in the wash aisle to the surprise and delight of curious onlookers.
Pickup and delivery service was the star of another TV spot highlighting the convenience of door-to-door wash-dry-fold and a perfect fit for the leisurely Miami lifestyle.
The turnaround of the South Beach store, whose previous trade was concentrated over the counter, reaffirms Broda’s belief that coin-op culture knows no borders.
“I think a laundry can work in any neighborhood,” he says. “People do laundry outside the home, and they understand it has to be done.”
Laundromats appeal to those with in-house facilities as well, the owner maintains.
“They understand if they have comforters, sheets and towels, it’s better to go someplace else, spend an hour, and then go back home instead of spending the whole day doing laundry.”
COMMON THREAD TO SUCCESS
The 65-year-old operator knows a thing or two about customer behavior and how best to win them over. And if there’s one common thread to Broda’s success story, it’s clothing.
Trained in the art of fashion design, he leveraged his talent and went commercial, bringing the American apparel label Multiples overseas. Responsible for everything “from scratch to the point of sale to the consumer,” Broda made the mix-and-match modular clothing brand a household name in his native France, catering to shoppers from 150 outlets.
He wound down involvement and eventually sold his company while still in the prime of life — a transition that took five years to complete and countless shuttles across the Atlantic to and from his new residence in Florida.
At age 50, Broda retired for a decade, enjoying the warmth of the Sunshine State, as well as the waters of Southern Thailand’s Andaman Sea, where he and his wife Chantal built their vacation villa. A love of Asian art also lured them to Shanghai and an ownership stake in a local gallery.
His retirement from the garment world eventually came to an end when a friend shared the profit and loss statement of a coin-op that was on the block in Miami’s high-density North Beach community. He liked the numbers and was convinced cleaning clothes, not selling them, offered an attractive investment.
“Retail is retail. It doesn’t matter if you sell sausages or sell garments or sell a wash. The rules are the same,” he says, gesturing toward the café’s main counter as we talk.
Cleanliness and employing a polite staff serving customers in a nice environment are all part of Broda’s winning formula.
With a payroll of 25 team members, including a full-time manager and repairman, Broda concentrates on the financial aspects of the business, along with marketing and long-term strategic planning. He typically visits each laundry a few times a week and has an eagle eye to catch something that looks out of place.
Although the seven stores are clustered in three parts of the metro region, it’s Miami Beach — and South Beach in particular — that is on his radar screen. Mention the $84-per-square-foot rental rate he pays to trade in the tony neighborhood and Broda doesn’t blink.
“You have to make it work. You have to seduce people so they come to your place instead of the other,” he says, adding, “If I could buy another store in South Beach, I would.”
He considers himself a price leader in South Beach’s self-service market, and points to My Sunny Laundry’s cleanliness, state-of-the-art machinery and level of service for commanding wash vends that start at $3.50 and top out at $14.25 for a 60-pounder running an “All-In Heavy” cycle.
His previous life overseeing every stitch and hem of a large-scale retail fashion house gives Broda a unique vantage point that few in the coin-op industry possess. And the move from garment racks to laundry carts certainly has him walking on the sunny side of the street.
Yet, with more laundries than years in the business, Broda admits he’s still learning. One thing he never mastered in his life around garments has him chuckling: “I don’t even know how to wash my own clothes.”
Missed Part 1? You can read it HERE.