Jump into Ironing, Expand Services

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A growing number of vended laundry owners are expanding services through the use of a commercial flatwork ironer, according to Continental Girbau’s Joel Jorgensen. Here at the Express Laundry Center in Houston, a new ironer doubled wash/dry/fold business in less than a year, according to owner Rob Maes. (Photo: Continental Girbau)

Joel Jorgensen |

Adding flatwork ironer can position laundry for business growth

OSHKOSH, Wis. — If you own a vended laundry that’s mastered full-service wash/dry/fold, then you are perfectly positioned for business growth via the addition of a flatwork ironer. By investing in a flatwork ironer, you’ll open the door to opportunities and commercial accounts you otherwise could not serve.

For the first time, your laundry will quickly and automatically iron sheets, pillowcases, napkins and tablecloths, making it more attractive to healthcare, food and beverage, and hospitality clients. You’ll get your foot in the door with clients you couldn’t service before, benefit from a new revenue stream, and strengthen wash/dry/fold business – all while growing the value of your enterprise.

HOW THE IRONER WORKS

There are a variety of flatwork ironers on the market, but there are certain features and capabilities that separate one ironer from another. For example, Mike “Stucky” Szczotka, of New Wave Laundromat in Sterling Heights, Mich., and the “Laundry Doctor” Jeff Gardner, owner of Sel-Dale Laundromat in St. Paul, Minn., chose their ironers because they are simple to use and offer solid programmability.

Additionally, their equipment automatically modifies cylinder speed based on the ironer’s heat maintenance and programmed temperature, which allows operators to feed damp items into the ironer directly from the washer – bypassing dryer conditioning.

“Because the ironer dries and irons in one pass, it greatly improved our production and eliminated dryer bottlenecks,” says Szczotka.

Gardner says his ability to iron sheets and pillowcases directly grew sales. He processes dozens of sheets per hour using a 10-year-old, 13-inch Continental flatwork ironer.

“That single piece of equipment allowed me to do work for massage therapists, spas and acupuncturists,” he says. “They started talking about my business to friends. Then business boomed.”

DEDICATE SPACE FOR IRONER, COMMERCIAL WORK

Dedicating about 60 square feet of space for the ironer is essential. This keeps it away from your self-service customers, while allowing for the ironer itself, installation clearances and a work area.

Szczotka recommends keeping the ironer separate from, yet visible to, customers — much like the “open-kitchen” concept of many restaurants. It piques customer interest, which drums up new business. He has owned a Continental flatwork ironer for 14 years. Shortly after it was installed, thanks to the ironer’s ability to iron bed and table linens, store profits improved by $800 a week, according to Szczotka.

SERVE BIGGER ACCOUNTS WITH HIGHER QUALITY

A vended laundry with an ironer will gain new accounts, even when those accounts require little ironing. Gardner and Szczotka agree that their ironers opened the floodgates for new business, strengthened overall profits and differentiated their laundries from the competition.

Gardner says sales grew because of his ability to iron sheets and pillowcases. “Since we installed the ironer, it has paid for itself 30 times over,” he says. “That’s a great investment.”

Szczotka, who is an experienced dry cleaner and vended laundry owner, picked up accounts from cosmetic surgeons, massage therapists and party rental companies. He uses the ironer in combination with highly programmable washers to properly clean and finish spa and table linens.

RELY ON DISTRIBUTOR TO GAUGE VIABILITY

If you’re interested in learning more about the viability of an ironer and its potential impact on your wash/dry/fold business, reach out to your equipment distributor. Most distributors — in addition to offering expert advice, equipment installation and post-sale service — can analyze whether an ironer is justified based on your goals, demographics, available space and potential return on investment.

About the author

Joel Jorgensen

Continental Girbau Inc.

Vice President of Sales & Customer Services

Joel Jorgensen (jjorgensen@cgilaundry.com), vice president of sales for laundry equipment manufacturer Continental Girbau Inc., has 23 years of laundry industry experience. He offers his vended laundry development and operations expertise as a frequent contributor to a variety of industry publications. An alumnus of the American Laundry and Linen College, Jorgensen also serves on the Coin Laundry Association Board of Directors.

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