CINCINNATI — At the age of 12, I started helping out at our family’s laundry equipment distribution company. Now, after having worked there full-time nearly 30 years, I have learned a lot about what it takes to run a successful vended Laundromat. I find the process of transforming Laundromats into something new intriguing. I consider customers partners, and I support them through all of the stages of planning, building and growing their operations.
Some distributors take their role of assisting customers even further by completing the design and construction so that an investor can step in to acquire the business once the Laundromat is ready to open. This concept is known as a turnkey Laundromat. Distributors take different approaches to this model: some will build the entire Laundromat and find an investor once the construction is complete, while others will identify a potential investor and then facilitate construction.
If you are thinking about investing in a turnkey Laundromat, here are some more key considerations to help you determine if this concept is right for you.
BENEFITS OF INCREMENTAL UPDATES
Many investors get started in the industry by acquiring an existing Laundromat that is run-down or closed and needs to be retooled. Some customers will depend on their distributors for the turnkey model in these situations if they want someone with knowledge and experience to handle making all of the necessary updates at once.
However, some distributors argue that store owners will have more time to learn the needs of their specific demographics if they make incremental updates instead of making changes all at once. Over time, they are able to factor in customers’ needs, as well as identify if additional services would bring more profit to the business. This may include determining future equipment needs based on which machines have the most usage, offering ancillary services, or providing amenities such as a children’s play area, Wi-Fi or TVs.
Two of my customers were initially looking to purchase a Laundromat that had a lot of competition in the area, so we worked together early on to find the right location. The store we found was equipped with residential washers and dryers that needed to be replaced. The investors saw a benefit in updating the equipment incrementally, and their business profited. In less than a year, they’ve enjoyed much success and recently purchased a second Laundromat.
DEVELOP AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE BUSINESS
If a store owner chooses to move forward with a turnkey Laundromat developed by a distributor, it is still important for the owner to develop a deep understanding of their equipment and customer base, so they are prepared to run the business. Some investors may feel more prepared to run the operation if they work with their distributor early on, rather than stepping in to acquire the business once it is ready to open.
Whether an investor chooses to move forward with a turnkey Laundromat or not, a distributor should educate store owners on their equipment and its capabilities. Understanding the technology helps a store owner get the most out of their washers and dryers to improve the user experience by working efficiently and providing the option to easily customize cycles. Additionally, the equipment technology helps with the overall business operation by tracking revenue, usage and maintenance needs.
Investors that have gone on to become successful multi-Laundromat owners were involved throughout the early planning of their business and were dedicated to understanding their customers’ needs. By getting customer feedback, they are able to implement it in their existing business and also use it when making future Laundromat investments.
If considering working with a distributor on a turnkey Laundromat, think through these considerations to determine if it is the best approach for you. No matter what you decide, a world-class distributor will work with you as a trusted partner throughout every step of opening and running your laundry business.
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.