Unethical Distributors Contribute to Oversaturation

Robert J. Renteria |

I’ve been asked recently about my thoughts on distributors who build laundries directly across the street from other laundries or build laundries in the same area where they just built a big, new store for someone else. Oversaturation in areas can be a problem, but buyers can get lured into the dream of owning a business, and unethical distributors are always on their prey like a hunter looking to kill his game.It’s pretty pathetic, but the answer I get from some of these distributors is, “Well, if I don’t do it, someone else will.” That answer is simply B.S., because it’s not a fact. There are good distributors who would never, ever do something so unethical. Yet this continues to happen across the country every day, and until someone decides to bring this out in the open, it will continue. That someone might as well be me.You see, money and ethics are a terrible combination, and greed is the root of all evil. Some distributors like to puff up their chest and say “Look at me, I was the No. 1 dealer in my territory,” with no regard to the casualties who bled to death along the way.Somewhere along the way, the focus was lost on who is actually the most important person in our business — it is and should always be the customer. Instead, some distributors are the slaves of manufacturers, pushing more washer and dryer sales when what we need to focus on is helping our existing base build their bottom lines.The biggest mistake I see some potential buyers make is that they merely look at the demographics that these unethical distributors present and say, “Wow, look at the numbers! Low income, plenty of renters, large families, etc.” Sure, on paper things might look fine, but how many other laundries are within your marketing area? How big are they? How much parking do they have? What is the equipment mix in the other laundries? Are they making money? How much can they estimate? Did your distributor provide you with a physical survey of all the other self-service laundries in your market? Why is this location good, and how do they really know?You deserve all of this information, and I’ll bet you won’t get it from those disloyal, dishonest, underhanded, cutthroat dealers.Also, don’t fall prey to the belief that Brand X of machines will be the reason your business will succeed. The customers, if given an exit poll, would never know the difference, but they’ll remember the experience.“OK, so who do I trust?” you might be thinking. I’ve told you several times in the past — talk to other laundry owners for whom a distributor has built a laundry.Look back to my past articles and read all of them. Follow the roadmap I’ve provided to avoid possible landmines and steer yourself in the right direction. I’m available for consultation, so if anyone needs help, I’m here to ensure you the best possible results. Give me a call at 312-933-5619. 

About the author

Robert J. Renteria


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 [email protected].


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