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 and 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 with get you on the path to success with ease.
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” (2). There are a few important components of information that you’ll need to identify when composing your business plan.
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, important statistics (3) for start-up owners to know 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.
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.
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.
Possibly the biggest element to be identified in your written business plan is profit margins. Business owners in the industry report an average 20-35% return on investment (ROI). The average store makes around $500 per day (4). 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 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 (5). 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 clienteles.
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 that you wish to have in your store.
3. Acquiring Laundry Equipment
The cost of investing in heavy duty laundry equipment will be a laundromats 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 for purchasing the equipment can range anywhere from $100,000-$300,000, depending on the numbers 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 your 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 (6) 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 for 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.
It’s important to do research do determine what your state and local jurisdictions require. If you fail to obtain any necessary licenses, permits, or fail to pay fees – you could be facing your business being fined or even being 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 of the difference. When point of sale systems first began, this software was deemed as a business luxury. Now, studies show that on a global outlook, more than 2 billion businesses are utilizing point of sale software (7). 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 operate as an all-around assistance to your business operations. Since the laundromat industry is so niche, it’s important to find 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 offers a very sophisticated all-in-one solution for laundromat owners. Their software is applicable to both those who own single location 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:
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.
To learn more, read our full in-depth review of Cents or check out this video below.
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 systems in the business world. Statistics have shown (8) 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
We have chosen RingCentral as the best all-around choice for laundromat owners. Their 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.
Stay Better Connected
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 that are available 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.
Starting Your Website
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 (9) agency, there are 6 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 growing your presence to other social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
9. Hire Employees
70% of laundromats (10) 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 in order 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 medias 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 geotargeted 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.
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.