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Is This Still A Good Business for Investors?

Robert J. Renteria |

CHICAGO — Like any other industry, the self-service laundry industry has taken a “shot to the gut” financially, but once you get by some store closings, there’s another side to this topic.The guys and gals of old who refused for years to do what was necessary to survive have closed their doors or will be doing so shortly. What does this mean for those still in business? You have a great opportunity to go after those customers looking for a new home to do their laundry.A year ago, I might have thought we were headed for the perfect storm, with no end in sight. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if it’s partially caused by those who didn’t change with the times or were oversold by opportunistic salesmen or distributors. Some are going to profit from this fallout.Here’s the question: Is the laundry business still a good business? Well, yes, but …LISTEN UPJust because some owners are closing their doors, don’t expect business to fall into your lap. This is no “slam dunk.” Customers have expectations, and they will be looking for a better place to wash. That does not necessarily mean they will simply choose the laundry closest to them.People are going to want top-quality service and will pay for it. Can you deliver this? If your store hasn’t “been in the game,” and doing the right things, I am more likely to be hearing about your store when the banks call for the washers and dryers to be repossessed because you can’t pay your bills.If you are looking to expand because you know that this business is capable of providing a nice return, beware of the shady salesmen and trunk-slammers who don’t provide full service. Dealing with them is a recipe for disaster.The best thing to remember is that this is a KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) industry. You don’t want to deal with someone selling you the “greatest” anything. People are after your money. Instead, focus on the fact that this is a basic industry with basic needs and wants.If you’re unsure about these needs and wants, go back through my columns from the past year. They should be able to help you avoid the detours and potholes of this business. This is a cash business. Cash is king. Things like debit systems and solar equipment are not for everyone.LOOK FOR LONGEVITYWhen someone is trying to sell you something, ask yourself if you really believe they will be there for you down the road. Don’t let anyone screw you over!Longevity should mean establishing partnerships with people and companies who have a vested interest in your business. That will contribute to your future success.This is still a good business, as long you work on a plan and stick to it.

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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