Interview with Laundry Spot owners Paula and David Leighton
In 2005, David Leighton was searching for a fun, new business venture, along the lines of a car wash. Then quite unexpectedly he discovered the laundromat business, which looked like even more fun. It was a pivotal moment – ultimately giving rise to two branded Laundry Spot stores located in the Middletown, Ohio area, and taking David, and family, on a business journey that has so far yielded a whole lot of fun.
“I’ve always owned several businesses at a time,” shared David who also owns an insurance agency and several commercial rental properties. “I feel fortunate to have connected with distributor Doug Grise when I started researching car washes.”
Doug Grise, a laundry distributor and president of Teeters Products, was, at one time, in the car wash business. Informative and ready to lend a hand, Doug introduced David to his car-wash-owner friend, Brad.
“When Doug and I visited Brad’s car wash, I couldn’t help but notice the Laundromat,” said David. “It was adjacent to the car wash and looked really clean and modern. Before you know it, the three of us spent the next three hours talking about running a Laundromat.”
The Laundry Spot is a family affair.
In 2008, Paula Leighton was a director for a special needs business. It’s also when David asked her to consider leaving her position to help him run some of his business entities. “I must admit at first I was somewhat hesitant,” Paula shared, “But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense for us to join forces. Plus, David and I work well together, we do have a lot of fun, and I’m always up for a challenge.”
Today, Paula is responsible for managing the daily activities of the Leighton’s expanding laundry empire. Her tasks include hiring, collection, deposits, payroll, supporting their store managers, and much more.
The first Laundry Spot locale is 4,100-square feet and is attended from open until close. It also boasts a team of dedicated employees on call to help. The seconded branded store is 4,400-square foot store and is currently under construction. It is primed to open in early 2019.
Each Laundry Spot is equipped with the FasCard payment system, giving customers the option to pay in quarters, credit/debit cards, or with the FasCard loyalty card. “Our patrons appreciate the flexibility and earning points for discounted savings and services,” said Paula.
“We’re finding that the payment system is really creating a devoted customer base and is being installed in our second Laundry Spot store as well.”
Each location has been thoughtfully designed to showcase a lot of laundry “must-haves,” which include ample, well-lit parking, and bright, in-store lighting. Laundry Spot customers enjoy wash-dry-fold services, free WiFi, large flat-screen televisions, and vending machines for food and drink. There’s also a Recharging Bar where customers can plug in and charge their devices while using the free WiFi.
One of the most important features at each of the stores is the high-quality security system. “Our camera system allows us to zoom in on customer activity,” said Paula.
“It’s also a great training tool for new employees and current employees alike. The security system is not only for theft and training, but if someone falls for instance, the security system provides us with ‘the rest of the story’ so we can make the best possible decisions.”
But the star of the Laundry Spot show is the Electrolux professional equipment.
Of course, at the end of the day, a Laundromat is only as good as the performance of its washers and dryers. Which is why the Leightons put their trust in Electrolux.
“For our Laundry Spot branded stores, we only use the Electrolux brand,” said David. “Our washers all have the high speed 450 G-force spin and all the dryers are reversing. That Electrolux washer and dryer combination is what makes a great store truly exceptional.”
In addition to the fast spin and the reversing dryers, the Leightons were keen on Electrolux’s technology features, including customizable settings.
“Our customers like being able to choose the heavy soil or the extra rinse setting, for instance,” David shared. “Paula and I like that we have the commitment and expertise of Electrolux behind us.”
“We also like having lower utility bills,” Paula added. “Thanks to our Electrolux equipment, we’re seeing a 50 percent savings in our water bill and a 40 percent savings in our gas bill.”
Teeters Products’ passion and integrity set the Leightons up for success.
Paula and David credit distributor Doug Grise of Teeters Products for the introduction not only to the laundry business, but to the Electrolux professional brand as well.
“I work with only one type of person,” said David. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the plumber, electrician, bank, or any of my employees. You must be trustworthy, compassionate, and full of integrity. These are the characteristics I believe in. They are non-negotiable.
Doug Grise, the president of Teeters Products and his son, Dan Grise, have all, and more, of these characteristics. The relationship Doug and Dan have with all their customers is like no other. It is not surprising they can make anything they touch successful.”
The Laundry Spot is fun for the whole family.
A second Laundry Spot store has one added very special feature – family members. Paula and David’s children and nephew will be involved in the daily store operations.
“Our two children, Adam, age 30, and Sarah, age 26, along with our nephew Chris who is 34, expressed interest in joining the Laundry Spot business,” stated David. “We’re really excited that our kids will learn the ropes of the business with us.”
David has fond memories of working with his father in the insurance and real estate business.
“Working side by side with my father for many years was one of the best experiences, and time, we had with each other,” he reminisced. “My father was my partner, my mentor, and my best friend. I have always wanted to partner with my kids and feel very blessed for this opportunity.”
Looking forward to the future.
Before the Leightons purchased their very first Laundromat, they would make a point to stop at every Laundromat they drove by to see how different owners ran their businesses.
“We learned a lot from observing and talking to the customers,” said David. “Today, we’re still learning, which is why we still stop, observe, and talk to customers and staff. The business is always changing and we always want to be on the cutting edge.”
However, there are some things that will always remain the same. Like taking the time to research every detail of a project, for example.
“Complete all due diligence, think, and rethink often,” advises David. “For anyone interested in getting into the laundry business, you must be willing to change course if your due diligence steers you in another direction.”
David also recommends to never compromise your values and integrity. Especially when it comes to choosing a laundry distributor and equipment. “A distributor like Teeter Products can’t be beat,” he exclaims. “Doug and Dan Grise and their whole support staff are extremely knowledgeable, helpful, and trustworthy.
And when it comes to a reputable equipment choice – Electrolux professional is the way to go. The machines are reliable, cost effective, fast, and customizable to our customers’ needs and wishes. These are the key factors to setting yourself up for business success. And don’t forget to have fun.”
David and Paula agree that the laundry business has been a fun adventure so far. They look forward to what the future will bring to their Laundry Spot business and family.