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Saving the Industry

Robert J. Renteria |

CHICAGO — For the past 17 years, I have witnessed a drab and boring marketplace of old, existing laundries stifling the much-needed growth and appeal our industry needs. We need to start moving in the right direction.As the manufacturers are trying to create the latest and greatest equipment, the marketplace continues to lack the one necessary component to move it into the right direction. However, that is changing.No, I’m not talking about the new, beautiful laundries, although that is a positive change. The most promising change is the new breed of investors. We recently put on several workshops at WashPro USA and they were all sellouts. Almost every person attending has some sort of business or corporate background. These people also have the keen and aggressive business perspective needed to compete in today’s “dog-eat-dog” business world.A BREATH OF FRESH AIRIn past columns, I’ve mentioned that marketing is the industry’s secret weapon for success. The new breed of investors is all over this basic and fundamental principle, and is willing to go out and attack the customer pool in order to increase profits. It is such a breath of fresh air to be able to converse with so many investors throughout the United States, investors who have the desire and passion to elevate the busness to a whole new set of standards.Remember, the coin laundry industry is changing quickly. That’s great news for the new buyer who has a much better understanding that this is not a retail business, and that every day needs to be a marketing day. Don’t get me wrong — we do have some good operators who have been around for a number of years, and I applaud them for being part of this change and doing their share in holding up business standards.There will be a huge business shift in the near future; a “changing of the guard” as some might say. This transition has already started, with more than 10% of the existing laundries sold annually going to the new breed of investors, who pony up the time and money necessary to turn this industry around by giving it the flavor and sex appeal that it has longed for.The new era owner is here — the owner who will not only change the industry, but also save it. I admit to having concerns for many years about the number of owners who have been romanced by salesmen claiming that success lies with the operator who has the best brand of equipment.NOTICEABLE CHANGESNow that the wheel has begun to turn a little faster, we will be seeing more supersized laundries being built. We will have the new owners keeping better books that will allow for getting top dollar when it comes time to sell. There will be better-managed and cleaner businesses with employees who are actually trained and perform customer service with a smile. Look for operators who execute a well-thought out marketing plan (at least quarterly) and add extra products and services in order to add to the bottom line.We can’t continue to treat this industry as a passive income opportunity. This industry pays your mortgage, takes care of your car payments and sends your kids to college. This is why all of us own a business in the first place, isn’t it? We’re not here to spin our wheels or waste time. This isn’t a hobby.The main reasons for anyone to join our industry are:- financial independence- to control our own destiny- to be one’s own boss- to be in control, and- to make money.Simply put, we’re in the coin laundry business to better our lifestyles and live out our hopes for the American dream!

About the author

Robert J. Renteria

Consultant

Robert J. Renteria is a national consultant based in Chicago. He has more than 23 years of industry experience, having helped develop more than 750 coin laundries nationally and abroad. The author of three books, he was named the 2010 Chicago Latino Professional of the Year and is the sole recipient of the 2011 International Outstanding Humanitarian Award. In 2013, he received two Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards for his work in civil rights advocacy and educational reform. He can be reached at 312-933-5619 or robert@fromthebarrio.com.

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