SANTA FE SPRINGS, Calif. — As a vended laundry investor, wouldn’t you like to be as certain as possible that your money and efforts result in a successful, profitable outcome? As you look to invest in an existing vended laundry or develop a new one from scratch, there are multiple critical factors to consider that will ultimately shape your business’ success. Nobody understands these factors — site selection, store layout, equipment mix, financing, lease negotiation, design — more than your local laundry equipment distributor. 

As laundry experts who know the markets they serve, distributors can and should become lifetime business partners who’ve got your back — and provide ongoing services — before, during and after the equipment sale.

Do your research and interview distributors in your market. Make sure the distributor you select can offer you not only a price for equipment but services, training, parts, and marketing support. You’re making a large investment and the dealer you select will be critical in your long-term success.

Additionally, your distributor should encourage you to join the Coin Laundry Association (CLA), where membership can immediately put you in contact with best-in-class operators and a network of valuable resources.

Remember, this process is not a sprint, it’s a marathon and you need to partner with a full-service, high-quality team of experts. Read on to see how a quality distributor might help turn your vision or plan into a viable, profitable reality.

LOCATION SELECTION AND ESTIMATING SALES VOLUME

Early on, your distributor works closely with you to evaluate any potential sites for your new vended laundry by analyzing competition, traffic flow, visibility and demographics. Distributors understand their local markets well and will be able to tell you if the factors I mentioned are favorable for success.

Once a site looks solid, your distributor should then estimate your laundry’s sales potential by applying value to your demographic data, competition, equipment mix and utility costs, etc. This tells you whether or not you move forward with that location.

EQUIPMENT MIX, UTILITIES, AND MORE

Once the location is a go, your distributor works to conceptualize your store’s equipment mix, payment system, utilities, customer space and design in order to provide a financial snapshot to you and the lender.

In doing so, a good distributor will take you through equipment sizes, types and performance levels, while factoring in criteria like efficiency, accessibility, G-force and programmability. Together, if your business model calls for it, you’ll plan space for additional services/revenue streams, including vending, drop-off wash/dry/fold, dry cleaning, commercial laundry services, and pickup and delivery, among others.

Remember, by planning for and offering additional services, a vended laundry can often better penetrate its demographic and serve a wider variety of customers, generate bolstered revenue, and better utilize employees.

Moreover, added services can help your business better utilize the unused capacity of your laundry, which makes you less reliant on only the walk-in customer. Finally, your distributor should provide detailed line drawings of the laundry.

PROFORMA SUMMARY AND FINANCING

At this step, good distributors can take all this data and generate a proforma, or cashflow summary. This is a financial statement that overviews a new laundry’s capital outlay, return on investment, wash and dry income, services income, taxable income, losses, expenses, and more. This summary is essential to securing favorable financing and is submitted along with a detailed Laundromat site plan, competitive analysis and equipment proposal to lenders by your distributor.

As a side note, most distributors work with lenders familiar with the laundry business, which often becomes critical to getting funded. This lender becomes a key partner and long-term ally, just like the distributor. Make sure you get to know them as you would your distributor.

Check back Tuesday for the conclusion!