ATLANTA — Thinking about investing in your first laundromat can be exciting but it’s important to have a sense of what you’re getting yourself into before committing to buy or build.
During a Coin Laundry Association education session titled “Everything You Need to Know About Your First Laundromat,” a trio of store owners with varied backgrounds shared their experiences to prep anyone just getting into the business for what they might expect themselves.
Texas multi-store owner Rob Maes moderated the panel that included store owners Omer Khan from Atlanta, Stephen Gramaglia from New York and Amy Doody from Maryland. Part 1 examined financial expectations and business planning, while Part 2 looked at site selection and the decision to lease or buy. Let’s conclude:
HOW DO YOU OPERATE?
Each of the panelists described their typical workdays, which includes visiting their store(s) for at least a short time every day.
When he visits a store first thing in the morning, Khan checks in with employees and does a walk-through to make sure the store is clean, equipment is functioning, and everything’s in order for the business to run.
Gramaglia estimates he and his wife spend 7-10 hours a week in their store and additional time studying camera feeds and more.
“We have great staff. We’ve got cameras. We have technology that allows us to see what the store’s doing, how many machines are running,” Gramaglia says. “We have a large wash and fold business. And again, the technology is your friend. … If you have a busy store, you can do things remotely from the beach or from wherever you are.”
When she first bought the store, Doody worked as an attendant each day, washing and folding clothes, speaking with customers, cleaning. The experience enabled her to learn how things should be done and to establish procedures. Today, she’s in her store every day between eight and 10 hours, handling mostly managerial duties.
WHAT ABOUT A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
An audience question dealt with the ability to have a work-life balance and opportunities to get time away, such as vacations.
“It’s not easy, and it does take up a lot of your time,” Khan says of the laundromat business. “It all depends on how you set up your model.”
Attended stores with additional services require more time and attention than self-service stores that don’t offer full services, he explains.
“You get to set your own hours. … it allows you to go to your kid’s baseball game for two hours and the world’s not going to fall apart,” Gramaglia says. “It allows you to go different times and have more of a work-life balance than … a corporate 9-to-5 job and being tied to that. It does allow you that flexibility but it is challenging.
“It’s a small business, it’s a cash business. For the most part, you really have to have staff in order to go away, or you have to have a partner or somebody that you trust, but it really is good work.”
“I’ve never done anything important that didn’t require sacrifice. So there is sacrifice, especially the first year,” Doody says. “So understand that this is your new baby, and if it cries in the middle of the night, you need to go take care of it. But then after that, things can come into a better balance. But everything requires sacrifice.
“Everything good requires hard work, and if it was easy, everyone would do it.”
Miss earlier parts of this article? You can read them here: Part 1 — Part 2
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].