MONROE, N.C. — Real estate developers Ben and Mekell Joffs recently invested in a high-speed vended laundry here. The 3,800-square-foot Monroe Express Laundry Center, which opened in 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, broke even in five months, according to the Joffses, and now averages greater than 4.5 turns per day — way ahead of projections.
“Real estate is cyclical, so we wanted to invest in a business with a predictable income,” says Ben. “The Express Laundry Center® brand gives us all the tools and support we need, without being a franchise.”
With help from full-service laundry equipment distributor T&L Equipment Co., in Charlotte, N.C., the Joffses found a location, and soon after, opened the facility.
“T&L Equipment was invaluable,” says Ben. “They put together a demographic study, revenue projection, competitive analysis, financing paperwork, as well as installed the equipment and continue to provide ongoing service. I wouldn’t do it on my own without them.”
At the fully attended laundry, customers enjoy a safe, clean environment with free Wi-Fi, high-speed Continental Girbau ExpressWash® Washers and ExpressDry® Dryers, flatscreen TVs, a children’s reading center, and the ability to pay their way. The icing on the cake? A 60-minute wash/dry/fold.
The ExpressWash Washers — in capacities of 20, 40, 60 and 80 pounds — are freestanding machines that reach high-extract speeds up to 400 G-force. They remove more moisture during extract when compared with slower-extract, hard-mount machines (100-200 G-force), and as a result, cut resulting dry time by up to 50%, the manufacturer says. This time savings makes it possible for customers to complete multiple laundry loads in less than 60 minutes.
“The process is very quick,” Mekell adds. “Our customers say they spend twice as much time at our competitors’ stores because their machines don’t extract water as efficiently.”
Because customers are in and out quickly at Monroe Express Laundry Center, this helps prevent bottlenecks during busy hours. And, from the store owners’ perspective, dryers run less often, which conserves costly natural gas.
The laundry is all about making life simpler and more pleasant for the customer, according to the Joffses. Attendants maintain a tight ship and clean machines after every load, the owners say. They also work closely with customers on how to use equipment and the store’s CCI FasCard payment system. Monroe Express Laundry Center allows customers to pay using coins, credit/debit, Google Pay, Apple Pay and the FasCard loyalty card.
“For every 20 bucks spent, customers get $2 added to their loyalty card,” says Ben. “Every cent is tracked using the FasCard system so it’s really simple and quick to refund customers if needed. There’s also an app where customers at home can track when machines become available.”
As an added convenience, self-service customers are encouraged to customize the wash process using the ProfitPlus® Control, which is standard on all Continental washers. The control brings more washing options and cycle features to the customer, with four primary cycle options (Hot, Warm, Superwash and Cold) and optional “Extra” cycles (including Extra Wash, Extra Rinse and/or Extra Spin). Each time a customer selects an “Extra,” the total vend price increases, helping build store revenue. Overall, customers do this 10% of the time and are charged an additional 25-50 cents depending on washer size.
“Most people choose an Extra Wash, but others who are sensitive to detergents often choose an Extra Rinse,” says Mekell.
Appealing to its entire demographic, Monroe Express Laundry Center also offers full-service wash/dry/fold for residential and commercial accounts. This side of the business makes up 8-10% of revenue but is growing.
Meanwhile, the store’s highly efficient laundry equipment, LED lighting, HVAC system and water heater combine for low utility costs that make up just 15-18% of gross revenue. Not bad when the national average, according to a recent Coin Laundry Association survey, is 24%.
“It’s been a fun learning experience for us and our kids,” Mekell says of the new family business. “Our customers love it and we love making their lives easier.”
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].