VALENCIA, Calif. — “Can I take an existing store that’s failing and make it work?” Art Jaeger recalls asking prior to purchasing what is now Valencia Express Laundry. “Does a good operator really make a difference?”
Jaeger, a multi-store owner and developer, ultimately decided to give it a go. Eleven months later, after a light renovation, the laundry generates 50% more revenue and, for the first time, offers a growing drop-off wash/dry/fold service.
BUILDING OFF ‘SOLID BONES’
While Jaeger saw an array of hurdles holding the laundry back, he believed it had solid bones. It touted a CCI Laundry Card electronic payment system and was equipped mostly with Continental high-speed laundry equipment, which he was happy about.
“I felt the store was well done in materials use and it had Continental laundry equipment, which I’m very comfortable with,” Jaeger says. “But it wasn’t finished properly, it wasn’t properly maintained, the customer service was extremely poor, and there was absolutely no marketing—not even interior signage.”
An attendant working there was a detriment to the store, according to Jaeger: “He was turning people off, scaring them off and moving them out.”
Jaeger went to work. The day after he signed for ownership, he fired that attendant, then closed the store for five weeks for renovations.
Many of the improvements were simple. Jaeger replaced 144 fluorescent bulbs, each offering 1,100 lumens, with LED bulbs at 4,800 lumens each. He painted the black ceiling white and removed the exterior window tinting to bring in light. He also replaced a rear steel door with a glass storefront door, which better illuminated the laundry and allowed customers the option of entering or exiting through the front or back.
Jaeger brought in seating, which had been nonexistent before. A dozen table benches, four of which fronted the bulkheads, were added along with electronics charging stations. He debuted free Wi-Fi, flatscreen TVs with programming, and interior signage where there were none before. And unbelievable as it may seem, the laundry didn’t have a telephone.
Jaeger tidied the manager’s office, added a surveillance camera and alarm system, and reconfigured the vending machines.
EQUIPPING FOR SUCCESS
On the equipment side, he moved his big, 75-pound Continental Dryers to the front of the store for improved customer visibility, and added 20-pound Continental ExpressWash washers to the mix.
When finished, Valencia Express Laundry showcased 10 22-pound LG Commercial Washers; 20 20-pound Continental ExpressWash Washers; 10 40-pound Continental ExpressWash Washers; eight 55-pound Continental G-Flex Washers; four 75-pound Continental PowerLoad Washers; 11 30-pound, dual-pocket stack Continental Dryers; 11 45-pound, dual-pocket stack Continental Dryers; and four 75-pound Continental Dryers.
Meanwhile, all machinery was thoroughly cleaned, maintained and repaired.
“None of the lint trays or soap dishes had ever been cleaned before,” Jaeger says.
Finally, he brought experienced attendants into the laundry to train those who were newly hired. He also launched full-service drop-off wash/dry/fold.
Check back Thursday for the conclusion!
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].