CHICAGO — After owning and operating a self-service laundry for a bit, thinking about adding another store might come pretty naturally. Acquiring Store No. 2 and beyond would offer greater money-making opportunity but also require more work and resources for each to provide the level of service that generates profits.
If thinking about pursuing multi-store ownership, it makes a lot of sense to do so armed with the knowledge of any successes or failures from the first go-around. In that light, American Coin-Op interviewed some laundromat owners about their multi-store experiences and what they’ve learned through the journey.
Part 1 introduced the owners and briefly described why they chose to pursue multi-store operations. Part 2 examined logistical demands and the added weight placed on certain aspects of multi-store ownership. Part 3 looked at the benefits of system unification, and the owners revealed the one thing they’d do differently given the chance to do it all over again. Let’s conclude:
A PIECE OF ADVICE
Each store owner was invited to give one piece of advice to someone preparing to own more than one store for the first time.
“You will have to allow yourself to give the stores more time,” says Joe Dan Reed, who co-owns eight Splash Em Out stores in the Kentucky communities of Lexington, Richmond and Nicholasville. “Meaning that you need to spread yourself a little thinner, especially at the beginning until you have a good management team together.”
“Make sure you have dependable, trustworthy, and honest persons (great if they are immediate family members) so that you do not become a slave to this business in handling collections,” says Edgar Vasquez, who owns two North Carolina stores: Mountain Wash Laundry in Shelby and High Spin Laundry in Charlotte. “(For) machine breakdowns and maintenance, you can hire at will, but for collections, you have to be very picky.”
“I always tell people that if you are going to own a laundromat, you really need to be able to do your own repairs and maintenance. This includes the buildings and the machines,” says Erich Wagner, who, with wife Lori, owns and operates a pair of unattended Hilltop Laundromats in Southgate and Newport, Kentucky, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. “If you have to hire everything out, it will be difficult to make a profit.”
“Make sure you have the time and the resources to handle two stores,” Lori says. “Everything from maintenance, accounting, social media, purchasing, cleaning … it all gets doubled.”
“I would think if you are planning on adding more stores, this would mean that you are also thinking about making this your full-time job?” says Reed. “If so, go for it, and if you put all your heart and effort into it, you will be successful and never look back.”
Miss an earlier part? You can read them here: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].