Opening a laundromat business can be a lucrative investment and the foundation for personal and professional success. Laundromat owners come from all walks of life – some are new to business or entrepreneurship, some are making a mid-career change, and some laundromat owners start their business as a part of their retirement plan. Some devote themselves full-time to laundromat operations, while others approach it as a part-time side business.
Each of these owners may approach their laundry business differently. Some will focus more heavily on laundromat marketing and social media, while others are thinking about cost controls or equipment. This may guide day-to-day decisions, or drive short-term strategies. However, without experience in managing operations for a laundromat business, it can be easy to overlook some important aspects, which can end up eating away at your revenues. The long-term success of a laundromat enterprise depends on the ability to make good business decisions, and avoid costly mistakes.
Laundromats should avoid these costly mistakes:
1. Install inexpensive equipment
Laundry equipment is one of the most significant expenses that a laundromat owner faces – and saving money on less-expensive laundry systems can seem appealing at the moment. However, cheap equipment can easily cost you more in the long run.
Skimping on equipment can cost a laundromat owner 40% more in utilities,¹ not to mention more frequent service and repairs. Moreover, cheap equipment has a significantly shorter life, requiring replacement up to three times faster than a quality machine. Discover reliable, energy-efficient washers and dryers from Laundrylux that are built to last up to three times longer than the competition.
2. Fail to keep up with service and maintenance
As a laundromat owner, you cannot subscribe to the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Laundry equipment relies on regular service and maintenance to remain in top working condition – and without it, a laundromat owner will end up paying extra for emergency call-outs and repairs. Moreover, unplanned equipment outages could cause you to lose loyal customers who grow frustrated about the equipment’s availability. Selecting a partner with a network of reliable distributors, and experienced service and maintenance teams, is one of the best ways to save money in the long run.
3. Forget about marketing and customer engagement
Once the grand opening is over, many laundromat owners get into a routine and forget about the critical need to engage existing customers and attract new ones. This lack of effort can cost you not only revenue but customers who may be won over by a competitor’s advertising and promotion. Try using social media to reach new audiences, and create a customer loyalty program to bring your customers back again and again. By continually testing, repeating, and improving your laundromat marketing efforts to engage your customers and reach new audiences, you can set your business up for long-term success.
4. Ignore customer data and tracking metrics
The laundromat business seems straightforward on the surface, particularly on the self-service side. But technology and data analytics have touched the laundry industry as well, and those businesses that utilize analytics to improve services will have a distinct competitive advantage over those that don’t. Different types of data that can improve a laundry business include:
Consumer data: Understand who your customers are by researching local demographic information and aligning your services accordingly. For example, if your business is surrounded by big families, consider installing a higher ratio of large-capacity machines.
Foot traffic data: Look for patterns in foot traffic – what are the busiest times of the day/week/month? Do you have enough capacity to accommodate all customers during these times? Conversely, identify the slowest periods and run a time-sensitive promotion to help drive business during these times, like free soap on Tuesdays or half-price wash every Thursday. Check with your distributor to see if foot traffic or demographic data is available as part of their services, and use it to draw insights to promote your business.
Machine usage data: Often, customers will gravitate toward a certain machine and make using that machine a part of their routine. This may result in uneven usage throughout your facility and machines that are used more frequently should be on a different service schedule than the others. For example, the washers in the back of your laundromat might need servicing much less often than the ones at the entrance. A laundromat management solution, like LaundryPulse, can provide this information, along with the tools for analyzing data to draw valuable insights.
Utility data: Utilities are a considerable expense for laundromats, and should be carefully monitored and managed. Look to fluctuations in utility costs, and see if these costs can be connected to changes in usage. Malfunctioning equipment may affect utility costs as well – so changes in utilities that cannot be tied to a change in traffic may be a sign that your equipment requires a service call. Your distributor may offer a utility analysis – be sure to ask, and use this information as part of your business strategy.
5. Overlook good customer service
Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Managing customer service is one of the most important things that you can do to ensure success. This includes in-person complaints and issues, but paying attention to online reviews and social media is critical to today’s small businesses as well.
A study found that 94% of consumers avoided a business due to negative online reviews.² And while another found that 93% of consumers aged 35-54 always read reviews, 97% also read the responses that businesses can leave to reviews, both positive and negative.³ So stay current on your business’ online presence, and respond to customers online – to keep the customers you have, and to attract new ones as well. Failure to manage customer satisfaction, online and in the real world, can have a significant effect on customer retention and affect your ability to expand to new audiences.
6. Fail to be proactive
Finally, in any business, it is easy to become complacent; to ease into a comfortable routine and only react to issues as they arise. But a laundromat owner that is not looking to the future can make the costliest mistake of all – being outpaced by the competition. And often, if you aren’t looking for ways to improve your business, or manage issues proactively, you may not realize there is a problem before it is too late to correct.
As a small business owner, you should always be looking for opportunities to reach a new audience, offer new services, and integrate new revenue streams into your business. Keeping it fresh may require some investment in the short-term, but it will help to provide the foundation for long-term success.
Laundrylux is a trusted laundromat supplier and business partner, with over 60 years of experience in helping laundry entrepreneurs succeed. From selecting a location, choosing equipment, to ongoing management and optimization of your business, Laundrylux has the end-to-end expertise that you can leverage to improve and sustain the success of your laundry business, long-term. Whether you are considering starting a new business or improving your existing one, we can help. Connect with an expert at Laundrylux today.