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Profitability by Design (Part 1)

Balance your laundry’s form and function to offer fulfilling customer experience

CHICAGO — Visibility, workflow and security are just some of the variables that impact self-service laundry design. Your store should be comfortable for customers to move around in, yet highly functional so they can wash, dry and fold their clothes and get on with their day.

While the physical dimensions of a building and other factors can limit the layout when it comes to equipment positioning, the look and feel of the space is largely open to interpretation. Walls can be painted a stark white, for example, or be home to a colorful, whimsical mural.

American Coin-Op spoke with three store owners about their approach to store layout and décor, with an eye on creating profitability by design. In Part 1, we meet Sally Klingler.

CARRYING OUT A VISION

Klingler, with husband Doug, runs Your Laundry, a 3,000-square-foot fully attended store in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The full-service, coin/card Laundromat offers a wash-and-fold service, including commercial accounts. It features 26 washers and 27 dryers of various sizes.

“We chose to have them stainless steel, which is more expensive but gives the store a modern, sleek look,” she says.

As an interior designer specializing in commercial design, Klingler says she “had a vision and carried it through from start to finish.”

“We have a fairly typical layout with security cameras throughout the store for safety. … I made sure there was ample space between the dryers and washers for crowded days, but not all spaces are perfect. You just have to do your best to create good traffic flow.”

Lighting is one of the most important features of design, she advises, and creating a bright, non-yellow spectrum of light allows customers to truly see whites and colors for what they are.

“We have direct, non-direct and ambient lighting for different areas of the store,” Klingler says. “We did go beyond the white drop ceiling and bought a stainless-looking square pattern to go in the existing grid to get away from the industrial, ‘big box store’ look, and hung several decorative pendant lights to create a warm, inviting look.”

Blue glass tile around the change machines not only looks great, it’s easy to wash without having to repaint, she says.

Klingler says the nicest feature of the Your Laundry entry is its automatic door, so people don’t have to open a door while their hands are filled with a laundry basket: “If you can afford this, do it!”

She says there were a few layouts considered before a final choice was made.

“You want to maximize the number of washers and dryers but also keep in mind the space around for folding tables, tables and chairs, and traffic flow,” Klingler says. “Really, the space dictates where you need to put the machines. Keep in mind, you don’t want to create ‘hidden’ areas in your store.”

What’s the secret to striking the proper balance between aesthetics and functionality?

“You can always make a space look sharp and clean within anyone’s budget,” Klingler says. “It might help to hire a designer to achieve your goals but your store’s function is to wash and dry clothes, and space planning is important. So the old adage that ‘Form follows function’ applies here. Budget dictates how far you can go to make your store stand out, and people can get very creative with limited budgets.”

In Thursday’s conclusion: With the click of a mouse; opening up the space