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 key considerations to help you determine if this concept is right for you.
HANDS-OFF ROLE IN PLANNING, CONSTRUCTION
With the turnkey concept, the distributor is responsible for coordinating everything required for the Laundromat to open. No two stores are exactly the same, so the needs are different when building out and planning each one. Distributors will manage everything from providing professional design services to determining the layout, color and lighting, as well as identifying the right equipment mix.
The turnkey Laundromat allows the investor to have a hands-off role before they take on running the day-to-day operation. This ultimately provides the investor with more time to focus on other responsibilities they may have, such as running an existing Laundromat or continuing another job.
One of my customers owns a Laundromat in a strip mall. When the business next door went under, they bought the building in order to expand. My customer asked me to organize the remodel to turn the entire building into a Laundromat that had the same branding, look and feel of its existing business. By developing this turnkey model, it did not divert attention from the existing Laundromat while remodeling the new space.
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF EXPERIENCE, EXPERTISE
With their extensive knowledge of equipment and running successful businesses, the best distributors can be used as a trusted source to develop a turnkey Laundromat.
Before moving forward with developing a turnkey Laundromat for an investor, a distributor will evaluate the location, studying the market and pulling demographics to determine the potential customer base and its needs. Additionally, by studying the market, they evaluate the competition in the area and can make recommendations on how to set their customer’s business apart, such as offering additional services like wash-dry-fold or extending business operating hours.
Distributors can recommend the right mix of washers and dryers. They understand the value of investing in industry-leading equipment built for optimal performance. This investment improves efficiency, ultimately helping to reduce overall utility costs and boost the bottom line.
Additionally, many distributors have mastered the design elements associated with opening a Laundromat and realize their importance. Customers want the store to be clean, and they want to feel comfortable and safe. Adding elements such as security cameras, TVs and seating areas will ensure a pleasant atmosphere for everyone.
GETTING INVOLVED IN PLANNING, DESIGN
As mentioned, there are some instances when a distributor will complete the entire build of a turnkey Laundromat and will look for an investor once the business is ready to open. If an investor acquires this type of turnkey Laundromat, they may not have the opportunity to be involved in some of the conversations surrounding the equipment, design and layout of the store.
In other cases, a distributor and investor will team up early on in the process, and the investor will be involved throughout the build and design. This approach allows the Laundromat owner to review plans and provide approval at each step.
If an investor wants to have a say in the equipment, location, design and layout of his/her future Laundromat but does not want to coordinate the actual build and construction, partnering with a distributor early on is the right approach.
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