Written by Business Expert Wale Ameen
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Laundromats are a profitable business if run and managed right. In this review, I have detailed all that you need to know and put into perspective to run and manage a laundromat successfully.
Don’t have time to read this whole review? Skip ahead to:
- What is Needed to Open a Laundromat?
- 10 Steps to Follow to Open a Laundromat
- How Much Does it Cost to Open a Laundromat?
- Are Laundromats Profitable?
- Is Opening a Laundromat Worth It?
What Is Needed To Open A Laundromat?
While you do not need to have a professional certificate to start a laundromat shop and it is quite easy, there are a number of things you need. You need to register your business, get necessary equipment like dryers, order washers, coin machines, laundry carts and detergent vending machines.
In terms of washers, it is advisable that you buy top load washers in order to save money, and these usually cost between $500-$700 per piece as opposed to front loaders which cost between $3,500 and $20,000 each.
Data on Laundromat Business
The laundromat industry is making a major comeback. According to recent statistics (1), the laundry market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.4% in the next seven years. The market revenue is currently around $16 billion, and by the year 2027 the revenue growth is predicted to hover around the $30 billion range. Yup – almost doubling in just the next few years.
If you’re looking to jump into a new professional adventure in a market that is predicted to only see growth in the foreseeable future, opening your own laundromat business may just be the right next step for you. The laundromat industry seems to be a safe bet for entrepreneurs to invest in. Although there is a growing need for laundromats, there are currently only about 35,000 nationwide, so there is definitely a need for more.
With any new business venture, there is a concern of profit. It can be overwhelming to start something new and not know if you will be successful or not, particularly when it pertains to losing or making money. As an overview, the outlook of choosing this industry is a fairly safe bet. On average, the industry has a 95% overall success rate.
While opening up your own laundromat business may scare you a little, this 10-step breakdown will get you on the path to success with ease.
10 Steps To Follow To Open A Laundromat
1. Write Your Business Plan
As with most any business niche, the first step to success is writing out your business plan. According to the Small Business Association, “A well-thought-out business plan helps you to step back and think objectively about the key elements of your business and informs your decision making as you move forward”. There are a few important components of information that you’ll need to identify when composing your business plan.
Narrow Down Your Target Market
Narrowing in on your target consumer market is critical. A sure way to sink your business from the start is to not know who your business is catered toward. A great way to identify your target market is to research industry demographics. For laundromats in particular, it is important for start-up owners to know some important statistics. Some of these are that over 60% of laundromat users are women, low income renters are the primary users, and 87% of all customers live within a mile of the laundromat facility.
Consider The Competition Around
Is there any competition within your community? If there are top laundromat brands within your vicinity, it may not be ideal for you to open one. Why? Consumers tend to be drawn to more established names, and that’s across the board for any industry, not just laundromats. It should also be noted that some of the top names in the industry are franchises, and there are sometimes zoning limitations as to opening a competing business near them.
Whether you’re starting a new business or looking to improve an existing one, you need to research your competition. Doing research on your competitors is as simple as conducting a few online searches. Secret-shopping at various facilities is another great way to gather information on your competitors. Having an understanding of your competition’s strengths and weaknesses can help you determine how you can better serve your customers.
However, if you are seeking to open a new location in an area that doesn’t have any existing locations, or only has locally owned facilities with a demand for more – the competition aspect is probably not a big concern.
This is possibly the biggest and most important element to be identified in your written business plan. Business owners in the industry report an average 20-35% return on investment (ROI). The average store makes around $500 per day. If you translate that to a monthly sum, it adds up to be an average of $15,000/monthly gross income. With the 20-35% ROI, that puts owners looking at a monthly net income range of $3,000-$5,000. Although these are all average numbers and can vary greatly depending on the particular expenses that your store will incur.
The largest recurring expense for laundromat owners will be utilities. The average business owner can expect an annual average utility cost of $200-$2000/per machine. Another expense to account for will be regular maintenance as well as unexpected repairs.
2. Location, Location, Location
Since the most common demographics of laundromat users are so niche, finding an ideal location will be a major aspect of whether or not your store will be successful. The #1 key consideration for determining the location of your laundry facility should be the neighborhood demographics. Rental tenants who may not have access to on-site laundry, female dominated areas, and low-income neighborhoods that don’t have at-home laundry access or properly working machines will turn into your repeat clientele.
How Big Should a Laundromat Facility Be?
The average facility size is approximately 2,000 square feet, but stores can range anywhere from 1,000-5,000 square feet. The size of the facility will be determined by 1) availability, and 2) how many machines you wish to have in your store.
3. Acquiring Laundry Equipment
The cost of investing in heavy duty laundry equipment will be a laundromat owner’s largest business expense. While this huge purchase can be a daunting aspect of a start up cost, don’t let it scare you away. On average, facilities will have 40-100 washer/dryers on site. The initial cost of purchasing the equipment can range anywhere from $100,000-$300,000, depending on the number of units that you buy and the brand that is purchased.
However, once you take the plunge with the initial equipment costs, this type of commercial laundry equipment lasts anywhere from 10-15 years when it is well maintained. So, if you can get over the hurdle of the startup equipment cost, there is little to no follow up purchasing required for many, many years.
4. Choose a Name & Register Your Business
Deciding on a name for your business is a really fun step in the start up process. If you’re struggling with settling on the right name, there are a ton of business generator tools online that can help. In addition, it may not be a bad idea to run the name by trusted family, friends, and colleagues to get outside opinions on the name before you nail down your decision.
Registering your business by structuring it as a legal entity is a process that will vary depending on which state you are located in. There are several different business structures to choose from, such as a corporation, proprietorship, partnership, or a limited liability company (LLC). The most common structure for laundromat businesses is an LLC, as it prevents you as the business owner from being held liable in the event of being sued. Once you file your business legally, you’ll be able to register for taxes, set up your business bank account, begin branding and create a logo, and invest in business insurance – which leads to our next step.
5. Purchase Business Insurance
Investing in business insurance is an important aspect of opening your laundromat facility. Although you may not think so, this type of business can be a major liability due to the commercial grade equipment that is located in your store. Legally, laundromat owners aren’t required to carry insurance but it’s highly recommended, and usually fairly affordable. In the United States, the average laundry business will spend around $350-$750/annually for $1 million in liability coverage.
There are other types of business insurance that you should consider purchasing in addition to liability. For example, commercial property insurance will cover your equipment and your building. If you’re planning to hire any employees at your store, it’s also a good idea to consider worker’s compensation insurance. If you’re unsure which types of insurance coverages that are right for you, it’s a good idea to have a discussion with a business insurance agent to discuss your needs.
6. Obtain Necessary Permits
Operating a physical retail location typically requires a ton of licenses and permits, and a laundromat is no exception. Many states require laundromat owners to obtain a dry cleaner license to operate their facility. In addition, some of the other licenses/permits include fire department, signs, air and water pollution, as well as fees for sewer, wastewater, and public improvement.
Read more: 8 Best POS System Options for Retail Business Owners
It’s important to do research to determine what your state and local jurisdictions require. If you fail to obtain any necessary licenses, permits, or fail to pay fees – you could face having your business fined or even shut down in extreme cases.
7. Choose a Point of Sale System
As you get closer to opening your new laundromat business, choosing the right point of sale (POS) system can make all the difference. Having an ideal laundromat software or solution is one of the factors that will determine your business’s success to a large extent.
When point of sale systems first began, this software was deemed a business luxury. Now, studies show that, on a global scale, more than 2 billion businesses are utilizing point of sale software. Investing in a robust point of sale system will be the driving factor that takes your laundromat business to the next level of success.
The best system doesn’t just act as a point of sale, rather, it will provide all-around assistance to your business operations. Since the laundromat industry is so niche, it’s important to find laundromat software and a point of sale software that is also specifically targeted for laundromat operations. While there are a ton of great options on the market for point of sale, not all of them are designed to benefit laundromats and the specific operations that this type of business has to carry out. After researching, we believe that Cents is the #1 choice for laundromat owners to use for their point of sale software.
Why is Cents the Right Point of Sale for Laundromats?
Cents POS offers a very sophisticated all-in-one solution for laundromat owners. Their software is applicable to both those who own single location stores as well as multiple location stores. The entire consumer process is covered by Cents. From first load to delivery confirmation, this POS software will create more opportunities for you as a laundromat owner to grow your business, expand your operations, and better understand your business on an analytical level. Cents point of sale offers business and employee management features, pickup and delivery, hardware, and much more.
Here Are The Top Five Benefits of Cents POS:
Order Tracking and Process Management
The Cents POS system puts everything a laundromat owner needs to monitor orders and manage processes in one place. Track store operations, employee information, and order data, including machine numbers and cycle stages.
Robust Customer Relationship Management
The customer relationship management (CRM) system integrates seamlessly with a laundromat’s website and marketing efforts. Get comprehensive insights, track cart abandonment and access advertising reporting to tailor decision-making toward the ideal customer experience.
The system offers dynamic laundry delivery at affordable prices for customers and no cost to owners. Cents empowers owners of any size to expand their markets with one and two-way delivery for online and in-store orders. Whether you have your own drivers or not, Cents works to be your partner for all delivery needs.
Dynamic Pricing Options
The Cents POS system offers flexible pricing options to meet any type of transaction. Whether that’s laundry delivery or per-pound services, Cents tailors pricing to the customer, boosting your bottom line.
Store Management System Integration
A POS system is just one piece of a laundromat operation solution. Cents is a POS system and more that addresses an owner or operator’s every need: from robust operation management to sharp business insights.
For each step of the management process, Cents transforms laundromat operations with enhanced business insights, customer relationship management and everything in between. Book a demo to get started.
8. Set Up Your Business Phone System and Website
As a business owner, it’s important to know how to keep your work life and your personal life completely separate. When running your own business, it’s easy for the work-life balance to become intertwined. An important step in helping to mitigate this issue is investing in a phone system for your business.
When you think of a business phone, your mind probably immediately visualizes the old clunky desktop phones that you are constantly tied to in order to answer and receive customer phone calls. Phone systems have come a long way, particularly in recent years. Now, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is the new norm phone system in the business world. Statistics have shown that using a VoIP system can help businesses improve the handling of their phone calls by 67%. That being said, there are so many options to choose from when it comes to VoIP systems, so we have narrowed down what we believe is the top system specifically for laundromat owners.
Best Business Phone System for Laundromats
I have chosen RingCentral as the best all-around choice for laundromat owners. This is because the company offers a well-rounded system that will be adaptable to the fast-paced environment of a laundry business. Here are the top 3 perks of utilizing their system.
RingCentral has a 99.99% uptime – one of the most impressive that you will find in the industry. This is really important for laundry business owners in particular. In the event of a power outage or phone system failure, consumers will still want to get in touch with your business. This system allows you to be more connected to your customers, virtually all of the time. In addition, if you ever need assistance – RingCentral offers 24/7 support for their users.
Highly Intuitive Dashboard
This system was specifically designed to grow and learn with your business. Communication may become overwhelming in the workplace, so being able to access all communication data in a central location will make things much easier and organized. All of your communication information such as calls, messaging, and any meetings are all stored in the application. Business owners will also be able to view reports, analyze and monitor data, and predict any potential issues that may occur with the software’s intelligent real-time tracking.
Professional Call Features
RingCentral offers a wide variety of communication features to choose from. Some of the features that would be most appealing to laundromat owners include call forwarding, hold music, a virtual receptionist (to answer FAQ’s), call logging, messaging alerts, and more.
There are four different pricing plans to choose from with RingCentral’s phone system. Whether you want a basic package or a more advanced one, there are options to suit your needs. Click here to get a quote from RingCentral for your specific business needs.
9. Hire Employees
It is important to note that about 70% of laundromats have two employees or less. Depending on the size of your facility and how involved you as the owner are wanting to be, it may be easier to get started with just one employee on board and see how things go. Although many laundry facilities are self-service, there still needs to be someone there to process payments when needed. The major responsibility of the employee at a laundromat will be customer service. Keep that in mind when going through the employee selection process. The employee that you choose will be the face of your business and your brand, so it’s important to choose a candidate who will represent that well.
10. Strategize Marketing Efforts
Advertising your new laundromat location is crucial to the success of your opening. Once you have your website and any desired social media established, you can begin to start marketing with online campaigns. In addition, it’s important to remember to market to your local community, since the members of your community will be your primary clients. Business owners can use geo targeted marketing when creating their online ads.
Outside of online advertising, you could consider running newspaper or radio ads, or sending out store details in the mail to get the word out about your business. There are other marketing avenues that can be pursued, but one thing is for sure: developing a solid marketing plan will help you grow your business at a much more rapid rate.
Developing A Good Website For Your Business
Having a great website is one of the laundromat’s best solutions especially at this time. However, there is a lot of apprehension that surrounds creating a website for most people, because the majority of users don’t have any experience in building websites. Fortunately, there have been leaps and bounds made in website building programs and technology that make it much simpler for someone that has little to no experience to be able to establish an online presence for your business. A quick online search will point you in the right direction for a tool that works for your skill set level and your budget. Even though consumers aren’t able to do their laundry online, it’s important to have a user-friendly and informative website.
In our society today, the online presence is usually the first impression that consumers receive of a business. According to a top digital marketing agency, there are six website must-haves for laundromat facilities: 1) User-Friendly Website Design, (2) Useful and Up-to-Date Information, (3) Inbound Marketing Laundry Blog, (4) Business Location Listings, (5) Quality Laundry Machine Photographs, (6) Customer Service Amenities. Once you have built your website, you can work on expanding your presence to other social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
How Much Does It Cost To Open A Laundromat?
Having considered that you need to consider opening a laundromat, the next thing you probably want to know is how much exactly it costs to open one.
Getting what it costs to open a laundromat is however not set in stone, as this depends on a number of factors. The cost of opening a laundromat business ranges from $100,000 to as much as $300,000 and this depends on a number of factors. Is this going to be a full-time business for you or part-time, and how big are you looking at playing in the laundromat business?
The average laundromat facility is about 2,170 square feet but businesses range from 1,000 to 5,000 square feet.
Also, 70 percent of laundromats typically have two employees or even less and about 36 per cent of laundromat investors consider their store a part-time job, while about 63% consider it a full-time job. All these are factors to go on to determine what your eventual cost comes to.
How Profitable Are Laundromats?
Available data shows that laundromats are indeed profitable. Laundromats generate about $5 billion in combined nationwide gross annual revenue, and coin laundries can range in market value from $50,000 to more than $1 million. It goes on to state that the laundromat industry sees about a 95% success rate, and businesses average between 20-35% ROI.
As such, laundromats continue to be a lucrative and profitable business to venture into.
Is Opening a Laundromat Worth It?
The biggest question to ask yourself in consideration of opening your own laundry facility is, are you ready for the commitment? Although a laundromat can become passive income down the line, in the initial stages it will require a lot of time sacrificed and financial dedication.
Deciding to open a laundromat store is no easy task, and it’s not for the faint of heart. However, if your gut is telling you that this is the right step for you and you’re ready to dive into an ever-growing business industry, then it’s go-time! Operating your own laundry business is not only a financial investment, but it’s an investment into your community as well. You will be able to provide laundry services to those that may not have access to it otherwise.
If you’re interested in starting your own laundromat business, there are many important steps you need to take before you get started. One of the most important considerations is your target demographic. Some single-family homes have their own washing machines, so they may not need a laundromat. However, those who rent apartments and do not have time for laundry may be interested in a laundromat that offers wash-and-fold services.
Starting a laundromat from scratch can be a daunting task, but it can also be fun and rewarding. You’ll need to start with some cash to buy a location and invest in some basic equipment. If you can’t afford to pay cash upfront, there are several funding options.
If you are planning to open a laundromat, you’ll need to develop a business plan. Many big brands require you to have a minimum amount of liquid cash to open their laundromats. An existing franchise will provide support and help you get up and running faster. A good business plan will include a description of your business, an analysis of your potential market, a marketing strategy, a budget, and a business plan. These documents will serve as your roadmap for operations and give investors confidence in your business.
While a single laundromat might have limited potential to start a profitable business, multiple laundromats offer a wide range of additional services and maximize profit. For instance, many laundromat owners choose to serve food, rent mailboxes, and even offer free internet access to their customers. With these extra services, owners can save money on overhead and focus on providing more convenient services for their customers.
This review guide has detailed all that you need to know on how to open a laundromat and the intricacies involved. I have outlined the fact that the laundromat business is still a very lucrative business to go into and also detailed factors you need to consider and equipment you need to get when opening one.
Are laundromats a dying business?
The answer to this is a big NO. Laundromats are no business. And in fact, more people are continually looking at it as a viable business opportunity.
How big is the laundromat industry?
The laundromat industry is estimated as a $5.5bn industry measured by revenue. Its growth rate in the US is expected to increase 1.9% in 2022.
What are the threats in the laundry business?
Some threats to the laundry business include: Uncertainty in consumer spending and a shift to disposable equivalents of laundry.
Why do laundromats fail?
Two major reasons why laundromats fail are bad management and not paying adequate attention to the daily operations. Many feel that they do not need to monitor it closely believing that they will collect their earnings every other week or so. This however, is far from the reality.
What population supports a laundromat?
A good location to site a laundromat will be areas with excess of 20,000 people within a one mile radius or more.