I recently spent some time with a woman who was complaining about business being terrible. She was considering leaving the self-service laundry business. She has been in business for about three years, and has been breaking even at best.I’m going to share some of the details of our conversation.She explained to me that she had at least 10 machines that weren’t working and needed to be replaced. The customers complain about the attendants not opening the store on time and closing early. She went on to say that she was busy with her personal life and was frustrated that her business was not generating the revenue she envisioned.I did my best not to be mean, and told her that the reason business was bad is because she was her own worst enemy. Can you believe that someone thought a business could possibly run itself? She acts as if it’s an inconvenience to spend the time and money necessary to generate the desired revenue.Her laundry was dirty and smelly, and there is no reason, other than a great location, for customers to patronize it. There were no drinks or snacks in the vending machines, and some of her equipment had been out of operation for about nine months. The attendant was a kid who resembled a tattoo-toting convict.I will spare you the rest of the gory details because you would have to see the place to believe it.WORK WITH A PROFESSIONALThe operator had purchased the store from an industry “burnout,” long past his prime. She said this person had painted a pretty picture — the laundry was a gold mine that would make tons of money with little or no effort. I have warned you about buying from brokers who paint pretty pictures and offer no service.Never buy from a broker or anyone who works out of their home and cannot provide you the vital support that will be needed once you take possession of the business. This is all about protecting your family’s future and not losing your life savings.Stay away from the fast-talking individuals who claim to be “experts” because they might have owned a laundry once upon a time. These people may tell you tales of success, but they are really thieves in the night.A full-line distributor can help make your business successful. Deal with a company that offers parts, service training and a full line of equipment, and has people who are financially committed to both you and the industry.It’s tough when people come to me after the damage is done. There are many full-service distributors around the country who can do the job for you. Search for the professional distributor who will provide you with the necessary support to succeed.YOU’RE THE ONEI shared this brief story not because I wanted to dwell on someone who has no real understanding of what it takes to be a success in business. I wanted to emphasize what it’s like to not have a lifeline, or someone to hold your hand and help you do the things necessary for success.However, it’s still entirely up to you to make the commitment to do what it takes to build a business and to find a real distributor, not a trunk-slammer. Do you have someone who can help put together a marketing plan?If you are thinking about getting into the business, are you willing to spend at least 30 hours per week to make things work? If not, don’t buy a Laundromat.As always, if you have any questions about purchasing a laundry, please feel free to contact me. I can help you through the process. I can spot a bad deal. I can also spot a good deal and help you every step of the way!
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected] .