How to Start a Laundromat Business: Part 1

The laundromat business is a great option for anyone looking to build a steady, profitable business that can be run for many years and even passed onto future generations. Laundromats’ longevity and high survival rate — 95% of stores are still open after five years — may be explained by the recession-proof nature of the business; after all, whether an economy is booming or not, people will always need clean clothes.

It’s a scalable business too. Once an owner has had success with one store, they can easily reproduce their business in a second location, and may eventually own and run a number of thriving laundromat stores. And, with successful laundromat businesses achieving an ROI of 20 – 35%, owners can expect to earn a healthy profit from their endeavors.

✓ Steady, recession-proof business
✓ High survival rate of 95%!
✓ 20-35% ROI
✓ Scalable Business Model

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Different Types of Laundromat
Time Commitments
Skill and Experience Needed
Investment Required to Start Your Business

The Different Types of Laundromat Stores

Owning a laundromat certainly has many benefits, but, like any business, building and running a successful laundromat will require time, skill, and monetary investment. The amount and ratio of these elements (time, skill, investment) will depend on the type and number of stores you plan to open.

Laundromats come in many shapes and sizes, and in future blogposts, we will look at the benefits of the different types of store. In particular, we will explore the growing trend of hybrid laundry-cafes and laundry-bars. But in general, laundromats will fall into two broad categories: the fully-staffed, full-service store and the unattended, self-service store.

Fully-staffed, Full-service Laundromat

If you like the idea of employing staff and providing a range of laundry services, a staffed laundromat may be right for you. This type of store typically provides different sizes of washers and dryers and a range of specialty services like wash & fold, dry cleaning, and delivery services that support the laundry needs of their customers.

Unattended, Self-Service Laundromat

If you want a simple, hassle-free business that only offers one type of laundry service, owning an unattended, self-serve laundromat could be the business for you. This type of store is popular in high-density areas like city centers and university campuses.

★ TIP! Decide What Type of Store Would Suit You. The number of hours, types of skills, and level of investment required to open and operate a fully-staffed versus a self-service laundromat may be very different, and it will be useful to think about the hours, skills, and investment needed for your preferred type of store.

How Much Time Do You Want to Dedicate to Your Business?

The weekly hours you dedicate to running your laundromat business will depend on the type of store you plan to open and the number of staff you plan to hire.

Less time on-site: Own an unattended Laundromat

The unstaffed store, as the name suggests, requires fewer on-site hours. You will still need to manage the business, collect revenue (choose electronic payments to avoid this task), clean the store, keep the environment safe and monitored, maintain the machines, and of course open and close daily. If you plan to run your laundromat as a side business, or you plan to open multiple stores, there are ways to minimize your time and staff requirements.

You can use software like LaundryPulse — a digital laundromat management tool from Laundrylux — that allows you to run your store (or multiple stores) remotely from your laptop.

More time and employees: Own an Attended, Full-Service Laundromat

On the other end of the spectrum, running a fully-staffed store requires more of your time. It is worth noting that a laundromat’s busiest hours will generally be mornings, evenings, and weekends. Most fully-staffed stores open as early as 6 AM and close between 10 PM and midnight, and the most profitable laundromats offer extra services like wash & fold and delivery, so hiring good staff is a necessity if you plan to open one of these stores.

Many full-service store owners enjoy their time at work as they get to meet lots of different types of people. If you are a social person who would enjoy chatting and attending to customers, you’ll probably make a very good laundromat owner.

★ TIP! Ask yourself if you want a side business or multiple stores. If so, owning a self-service laundromat might be right for you. Alternatively, if you enjoy talking to customers, managing staff, and have a large property, opening a full-service laundromat business would be right up your alley!

Business Skills and Experience

One of the main benefits of the laundromat industry is its low barrier to entry. There are no industry certifications to study towards and, since it’s not a franchise business, there are no franchise fees to pay. There are, however, certain skills and types of experience that may help you succeed.

Management Experience

A background in running a business will certainly benefit a prospective laundromat owner — whatever type of store you plan to open. Providing a quality service to your customers while keeping your overheads low is an art, and those with an understanding of business will have an advantage when starting off. But, there are lots of resources available to help new owners learn how to run a successful laundromat, and of course, the laundry experts at Laundrylux are always there to help our current and future store owners succeed.

People Skills

An often overlooked yet highly leverageable skill is an owner’s sociability and people skills. Because all laundromats offer a similar service, how customers feel about a store will determine whether or not they become regular visitors. This is the reason the “extra things” in a laundromat are so important. Comfortable seating, good lighting, free wifi, even big screen TVs can all be important assets in making your customer’s stay a pleasant one. And probably the most important factor of all (in an attended laundry) is the presence of friendly staff. So, especially if you plan to open a staffed laundromat, don’t overlook your people skills — they may be the most valuable skills you possess.

Technical Know-How

Those owners with a mechanical background may save on upkeep costs by maintaining and servicing their equipment themselves — although, modern washers and dryers are built for reliability, so these skills are certainly not essential.

You should be aware, however, that installing, maintaining, and repairing commercial laundry equipment requires specialist training. When choosing a commercial laundry distributor, you should always make sure that they will provide you with access to trained commercial laundry technicians to take care of these jobs.

★ TIPS! For full-service store owners, people skills are a big asset. Business experience will benefit you — no matter what type of store you want to run. And make sure your commercial laundry distributor can provide you with well trained commercial laundry technicians.

Required Investment

Your business’s main upfront costs will be in acquiring and designing/refurbishing your property and in outfitting your store with commercial laundry equipment. Once your store is established, your main expenses will be your utility bills, property rental or finance repayments, equipment upkeep, and staff.

If you are interested in starting a laundromat, Laundrylux Funding Services can help you secure the financing you need.

Laundromat Location

Your upfront costs will depend on the type of property you are acquiring and whether you plan to buy or rent. Later in this series, we will explore topics such as “finding the best location” and “construction and retooling of laundromats”. There are many ways to start a laundromat but in almost all cases — whether you are buying a successful laundromat business, purchasing and renovating an older store, or building a laundromat from scratch — your business will require upfront investment.

Coin Laundry Equipment

Once you have secured a location, you’ll need to fill it with commercial laundry equipment. A quick note here for anyone who is reading about the laundromat industry for the first time — the washers and dryers you see in laundromats are not the same as their residential counterparts. Commercial laundry equipment is built for round-the-clock, reliable performance; it also has a higher load capacity and many more programs available.

★ TIP! When choosing equipment, look for water and energy efficient machines. Coin laundry equipment — like Electrolux Professional Washers and Dryers — will help keep your utility costs down.

So, Is the Laundromat Business Right for You?

Hopefully, you now understand the benefits of owning a laundromat and the time, skills, and investment needed to run a successful store. Stay tuned for upcoming blogposts, where we will explore, in much greater detail, the many different aspects of running your own laundromat business.

Helpful Resources:
★ For the highest-quality, energy-efficient washers and dryers, choose Electrolux Professional Coin Laundry Equipment.
★ Do you want to run your business remotely? Check out our innovative LaundryPulse technology.
★ Do you need laundry business financing? Laundrylux Funding Services can help.
★ Looking for marketing services for your new store? The experts at Laundrylux Creative Services can help make your laundromat a success.

Are you ready to start your laundromat business? Laundrylux has been helping people open and operate laundromats for over 60 years. We can help you achieve your business goals. Contact Laundrylux today!