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Starting a laundromat business

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kurtyordy

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Aug 28, 2007
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After reading Hakrak's thread on laundomats, and seeing some accurate and some inaccurate statements, I thought I would post what I have learned through my dads 2 laundromats.

1. it often makes sense to buy used rather than building up new. This is due to people poorly managing their laundromats after investing thousands in equipment. However there is usually somewhat of a customer base to build off of and spread the word about the great changes you will be making. The second place my dad bought made in 9 months what the previous owners were making in 12 during his first year of ownership.

2. if you want to start your own, talk to dealers about buying used from bankrupt laundries. great source for pennies on the dollar equipment. Yes you will probably have to do some replacement parts, but usually worth it. FYI- My dad's preference new or used is dexter.

3. even though your customers will treat your laundry like it is their own personal pigsty(imagine fecal matter smeared all over the public bathroom just for starters), they value a place that is kept clean. Some customers drive 15-20 miles passing 2-3 other laundries to come to my dads. From what we have observed, many have thier places cleaned a few times a week, my dad has his cleaned daily.

4. be quick to refund- yes you will give away some money to folks who do not deserve it, but the legitamate folks who need a refund will greatly appreciate your no hassle refund policy.

5. invest in a great video security system- you will need this to capture streakers and theives.

6. if your can do it safely, be open 24 hours. The shift workers at the local factories will be loyal to you.

7. have things that keep people busy and make you money like megatouch game system and car vacs. Another profit center my dad added was a purified water machine. He also tried to ad a coinop single bay carwash, but the county shut him down. also have cable tv for people to watch

8. most coinop machines should be paid back in under 2 years, if not, change some things.

9. get extractors- people love them

10. get one or two of the biggest machines your dealer carries, people like being able to do all their laundry in one load. However, the elderly folk do not need the big ones, so get small ones as well.

11. promote- my dad gives away a bunch of turkeys each thanksgiving, people love it.

12. you can ad wash/fold service and drycleaning dropoff, however this will require you to need employees, my dad opts not to

13. my dad does stop by each day to socialize with the clients, make sure the place was cleaned well, and make certain no repairs are needed.

14. you can be the high priced leader in your erea, you do not need to be low costs. think if you raise your price 10% and lose 10% of your customers, you probably lost 50% of your complaints. Folks that are the quickest to leave over price are usually the quickest to complain. MY dad is the high price leader in the one town. So far he has driven out of business one established laundry, and another has opened and is not doing well. One other is surviving in his shadow.

15. decorate for your area- our area is somewhat rural, so my mom but a bunch of plants and country stuff around. Down in New Jersey at a few we went to see, mirrors and sterility seemed to be the fad.

16. I can not stress this enough, keep your place clean and well maintained. In case I was not clear, keep it clean.

17. oh yeah, make sure its clean.


Hope that helps, I will answer any questions anyone may have if I can.
 

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hakrjak

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Sep 15, 2007
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I've already been considering going with used equipment as a possible cheaper way to get started, but one thing I've been considering is that once I stand up the laundry and have it operating for 12-24 months or so, I may want to sell it as an established business and try to get some big profits that way. If I do a stand up & sell model, then I'll want to do new machines, so that looks good to a potential buyer. So far I've found Kenmore to be the cheapest brand, and I can get pairs of new coin op machines for about $1200. They also offer the larger machines you were mentioning, and I was thinking of doing exactly what your Dad does -- and keep 1 set of those for people to watch quilts, comforters, featherbeds, etc....

When it comes to snack machines, soda machine, video game, etc -- I will definitely go used because those things are INSANELY priced when you go new. I was looking at new soda / snack machines at samsclub.com tonight -- and they are like $3000 each. New ATM's are like $2000, and new bill changers are $1500+

Does he have his TV bolted to the wall or what? How does he keep the customers from stealing his TV & cable box? haha ;) I'll want a TV, but I want it secure.

Cheers,

- Hakrjak :banana:
 

kurtyordy

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Aug 28, 2007
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Thanks for the rep

I forgot to mention the theft factor, he has to screw all the decorations to the walls and even that does not always stop them. The tv is hung from the ceiling from a bracket and there is no cable box because no premium channels are offered.

I forgot to mention, he also offers free wifi.

As far as type of machine, go to various laundromats and check out what they are using. If you can talk to the owner, find out why they prefer it over others.

Not sure why, but every laundry we have looked at has been gas. From a strictly commodity standpoint it makes sense to me. A decent portion of the US electric is generated by gas, so if gas goes up so will electric. I imagine, dealing with th base commodity is financially a better play. Not sure if this is the logic others are using, just my 2 cents.

I think this was mentioned on your other thread, but you will need a machine to sell single use soap and laundrybags.

Also, ebay is a great source for vending/coinop machines.

Another source of revenue I forgot to mention is what my brother did at his laundry. He took a storage garage and converted it to a coin op dog wash. The smell is aweful, though my brother has become used to it(I almost threw up last time I was there), but the profit is good.

The buildup and sell model is very good. I would still recommend buying a poorly managed one, build it up and resell it.
 

lightning

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Awesome post :) Great info for anyone considering this avenue. +Speed to ya! :)
 

hakrjak

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Sep 15, 2007
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Gas appliances are more efficient than electrical ones. Anything to lower utility costs would be good, although it looks like the Gas dryers are on average a bit more expensive than the electric dryers.

Those machines your Dad recos are crazy expensive compared to the Kenmores or Whirlpool or even Frigidaires... I was doing some research yesterday and I believe they are like $3000 each compared to like $700.

Cheers,

- Hakrjak
 

kurtyordy

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Aug 28, 2007
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Those machines your Dad recos are crazy expensive compared to the Kenmores or Whirlpool or even Frigidaires... I was doing some research yesterday and I believe they are like $3000 each compared to like $700.

Cheers,

- Hakrjak
That may be true, but you need to consider repair values. In the various laundries we have looked at, and we have considered many, overwhelmingly we say, speed queen, dexter, maytag, and one that starts with an H, but cannot remember that one, not as common. Whirlpool occasionally, but never saw frigidaires. Trends like that always make me wonder why.
 

CarrieW

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h=hotpoint?
 

hakrjak

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I've repaired my own washers/dryers in the past. Doesn't seem like repairs on these machines are ever that much or that frequent. I can't imagine it would be a huge deal to send out a repair man once a month to fix a couple of your machines, etc... I guess some of these guys are seriously in it for the lonnnnnnnnnnnng haul and want these machines to last for 20+ years?

- Hakrjak
 

kurtyordy

Bronze Contributor
Aug 28, 2007
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just tt my dad, the one I was thinking of was huebsch, another is wascomat. I asked him about frigidaire, and he immediately said, oh those are crap.

Sorry, do not mean to offend. If you flip it in a year after opening, you should not have too much to worry about.
 

hakrjak

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Read Millionaire Fastlane
Sep 15, 2007
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Colorado Springs
Haha yeh I'm sure he would know better than most. These cheaper models are probably aimed at 4-plexes and small apartment complexes where they don't get as much use maybe, I dunno. Intriguing indeed though. If I laid out $3000 per machine and bought 10 washers/10 dryers -- that would cost me $60k just for the machines... And your Dad says he can earn that back in the first 2 years? WOW..... I am impressed. I was thinking you'd only make like $15-25k a year off one of these, but maybe I am low-balling myself....

- Hakrjak
 

kurtyordy

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Aug 28, 2007
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I am impressed. I was thinking you'd only make like $15-25k a year off one of these, but maybe I am low-balling myself....

- Hakrjak

We have witnessed those as well. Another big factor I forgot to mention is parking. You must have off street parking and plenty of it. People do not want to drive around looking for a spot.
 

hakrjak

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Sep 15, 2007
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Kurty -

Do you know if there are special water line or utility concerns when leasing a space for a laundrymat? What if all those washers dump their water at once? LOL

This is a question that came to me from a potential landlord.

- Hakrjak
 

hakrjak

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Sep 15, 2007
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p.s. -- Just thought about it, and wouldn't it be an equally big concern to make sure that the building you are going into has an ample supply of hot water? Like a boiler system or something.... You would be using a LOT.

- Hakrjak
 

hakrjak

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Sep 15, 2007
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Upon speaking with a commercial AC/Heating guy who installs boilers for a living, he has confirmed to me that I will be needing a commercial boiler to provide enough hot water for the laundry.

Start up costs just went up again...

Cheers,

- Hakrjak
 

kurtyordy

Bronze Contributor
Aug 28, 2007
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PA
Kurty -

Do you know if there are special water line or utility concerns when leasing a space for a laundrymat? What if all those washers dump their water at once? LOL

This is a question that came to me from a potential landlord.

- Hakrjak

Sorry for the delay in my response, I was making hay while the sun was shining, so my time was limited. Anyhow, your contact is correct regarding the hotwater.

You will also find that you typically need electrical work done to handle the load. However, my dad's laundry's have 70+ machines in them, so maybe at 10 you will not, I do not know.

Regarding the sewer- these lines are not pressurized, so you should not have an issue. My dad has never had a problem. If for some freak reason, the lines were not able to take the dump of all the machines, then it would logically spill out on your floor.

BTW- thanks to everyone for the rep points.
 

kurtyordy

Bronze Contributor
Aug 28, 2007
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My dad and I were talking about the business today. I remembered this post.

So I thought I would bump this up for all the newbies who have joined in the past few months.
 

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20art

New Contributor
Sep 23, 2008
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20
San Bernardino, CA
My dad and I were talking about the business today. I remembered this post.

So I thought I would bump this up for all the newbies who have joined in the past few months.
Thanks for that bump up. Although I won't be in this business soon, I do like the idea. I never thought much about laundromats and theres good information so +rep.
 

jblumenfrucht

PARKED
Apr 29, 2021
1
0
1
Mesa, Arizona, USA
Great helpful post for new laundromat owners. Yes, I agree with your points about the cleanliness and decoration of plants to attract customers. It gives a good and healthy environment. In this covid situation, these things are foremost required for everyone's good health. But buying old machinery I think it's not a good option for each. Because in the current modern technology world there are lots of advanced laundry business machinery are available on market, which helps more savings on utility bills. Latest payment options like cashless and touchless payment systems. You can start your small business with multi-family laundry options and if you think your laundry business grows well then you can move to laundromat owners or commercial laundry business setup. Advanced Industrial washing machines come with less water-using features. You can also buy a washing machine which includes both washers and dryers. It gives the opportunity to increase your revenue by 80% and more.
 

WJK

Platinum Contributor
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Speedway Pass
Oct 9, 2017
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After reading Hakrak's thread on laundomats, and seeing some accurate and some inaccurate statements, I thought I would post what I have learned through my dads 2 laundromats.

1. it often makes sense to buy used rather than building up new. This is due to people poorly managing their laundromats after investing thousands in equipment. However there is usually somewhat of a customer base to build off of and spread the word about the great changes you will be making. The second place my dad bought made in 9 months what the previous owners were making in 12 during his first year of ownership.

2. if you want to start your own, talk to dealers about buying used from bankrupt laundries. great source for pennies on the dollar equipment. Yes you will probably have to do some replacement parts, but usually worth it. FYI- My dad's preference new or used is dexter.

3. even though your customers will treat your laundry like it is their own personal pigsty(imagine fecal matter smeared all over the public bathroom just for starters), they value a place that is kept clean. Some customers drive 15-20 miles passing 2-3 other laundries to come to my dads. From what we have observed, many have thier places cleaned a few times a week, my dad has his cleaned daily.

4. be quick to refund- yes you will give away some money to folks who do not deserve it, but the legitamate folks who need a refund will greatly appreciate your no hassle refund policy.

5. invest in a great video security system- you will need this to capture streakers and theives.

6. if your can do it safely, be open 24 hours. The shift workers at the local factories will be loyal to you.

7. have things that keep people busy and make you money like megatouch game system and car vacs. Another profit center my dad added was a purified water machine. He also tried to ad a coinop single bay carwash, but the county shut him down. also have cable tv for people to watch

8. most coinop machines should be paid back in under 2 years, if not, change some things.

9. get extractors- people love them

10. get one or two of the biggest machines your dealer carries, people like being able to do all their laundry in one load. However, the elderly folk do not need the big ones, so get small ones as well.

11. promote- my dad gives away a bunch of turkeys each thanksgiving, people love it.

12. you can ad wash/fold service and drycleaning dropoff, however this will require you to need employees, my dad opts not to

13. my dad does stop by each day to socialize with the clients, make sure the place was cleaned well, and make certain no repairs are needed.

14. you can be the high priced leader in your erea, you do not need to be low costs. think if you raise your price 10% and lose 10% of your customers, you probably lost 50% of your complaints. Folks that are the quickest to leave over price are usually the quickest to complain. MY dad is the high price leader in the one town. So far he has driven out of business one established laundry, and another has opened and is not doing well. One other is surviving in his shadow.

15. decorate for your area- our area is somewhat rural, so my mom but a bunch of plants and country stuff around. Down in New Jersey at a few we went to see, mirrors and sterility seemed to be the fad.

16. I can not stress this enough, keep your place clean and well maintained. In case I was not clear, keep it clean.

17. oh yeah, make sure its clean.


Hope that helps, I will answer any questions anyone may have if I can.
I own a small Laundromat -- the only one in my community. All my machines are Maytag. We built it 18 years ago and it operates 365 days per year. The machines cost $60,000 when I built the facility. The reason it is small is that we're on a septic tank -- and that's all we were allowed to build. No public sewer system is available here. I knew a lot about Laundromats before I built it because of my history as a commercial RE appraiser. I had interviewed a lot of owners before I built mine.

My husband does our maintenance on our machines. He's a real blessing! He saves us thousands of dollars. (Don't skimp on equipment) We close and clean it every night. On Sunday mornings my assistant and I do the deeper cleaning.

The biggest sticking point in a Laundromat is the dryers. They take longer to dry a load than to wash it. I knew that glitch when I built out my facility. So, I don't have dryers -- I have big tumblers that can dry two loads of laundry at once. They dry the clothes within the same time that it takes to wash the load.

I have no TV or WIFI. WIFI is very expensive here and cable TV is not available.

I have a pop machine and a candy machine. I LOVE my machines, and yes, I bought those used -- all other machines were purchased new. The parts are available and my husband maintains those vending machines too. I also have a soap machine and our "money machine" for our card system.
 

Ing

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What revenue can you make with such a small business!
 

WJK

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What revenue can you make with such a small business!
It's just a dribble compared to my mobile home park cash flow. BUT, it helps support the rentals and it makes me well known in the community. It's the best advertising for my rentals, RV spaces, and sleeping rooms! Last year I spent 0 on ads for the year-around rentals. If I do get a vacancy, I write it on the whiteboard at the Laundromat -- and it is filled. Right now, I have a waiting list. There a couple of public bulletin boards for notices. I also have a drop safe in the Laundromat for rental payments that I empty every night. People are always in and out to buy stuff from the candy machine or pick up a can of pop. I have women who meet there to do their laundry together. We have a window sill where people put their old paperback books and a shelf for magazines for people to exchange. We have a cupboard for clothes that lots of people look through. The sign says, "Take what you need, Use what you take."

I worry about the overall cash flow for the whole operation.
 

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