Understanding your customers and their needs is key to any successful laundry business – a laundromat would be nothing without its clientele, after all! Neighborhood demographics are the factors that help to define a community, like age, income, family sizes, and whether people are renters or homeowners. Before opening a laundromat, you need to ask yourself, what kinds of people will be using your store. Knowing who your potential customers are will determine what type of store you operate and what extra services the people in the community will be willing to pay for. First, let’s look at the reasons why people might choose to use a laundromat, and then we’ll talk about the most important demographic factors to consider when finding your location.
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What kinds of people use laundromats?
People use laundromats for all types of reasons. Let’s look at the most common kinds of laundromat customers.
- Residents of older multi-housing buildings
- Low-income residents
- Busy professionals
- Seasonal residents
- Businesses that require laundry services
Many people living in rental accommodations can afford to purchase laundry equipment, but this often amounts to more hassle than it’s worth. Finding the best appliance at a good price takes time, and if they’re only planning to stay in the building for a couple of years, then they’ll have to go to the effort and cost of hiring a moving van when they leave. People living in shared accommodation with roommates are also very unlikely to purchase laundry equipment – who gets to keep the washer and dryer when the tenancy is over? More often than not, using a laundromat will be far more convenient and economical than purchasing laundry appliances.
Residents of older multi-housing buildings
Many older multi-housing properties were built before it was popular to own laundry equipment. The contractors of these properties chose not to fit the accommodation out with hookups for washers and dryers at the time, so installing them today would be very difficult. These properties may have a laundry room, but often these facilities are inadequate – there may be too few machines for everyone in the building to use, and they could be outdated and inefficient. A laundry room is also often located in a basement, where many residents would prefer not to spend their time.
For many people, buying laundry equipment is not a feasible option. Washers and dryers can be expensive and they add to the utility bills of a household. Using a laundromat makes economic sense for people who cannot justify the expense of purchasing their own appliances. They may use a laundry service for years before they come close to spending the amount it would cost to buy a washer and dryer.
People’s lives are getting busier by the day, and for working professionals who are also raising a family, it can be hard to find the time to get around to household chores at the end of the week. Many laundromats offer wash & fold and delivery services to customers willing to pay for that extra bit of free time. Who wants to spend a precious day off doing laundry if they can help it?
Some towns have a higher number of residents at certain times of the year – many retirees chose to spend their winters in the sunnier, warmer parts of the country, while ski enthusiasts might relocate to the mountains. For seasonal residents, it’s unlikely that their accommodation will be equipped with laundry equipment, in which case, they will choose to use the local laundromat.
Businesses that require laundry services
Many businesses like restaurants, salons, and gyms go through heaps of laundry every week. If they don’t have commercial laundry equipment on-site, it will be most economic for them to use the wash & fold service at the nearest laundromat. Pay attention to the different types of businesses located close to your store, as they could provide you with regular, dependable income.
Important demographic factors for laundromat businesses
Now that we understand why someone would choose to use a laundromat in the first place, let’s look at the demographic factors of a neighborhood that will determine whether or not a new laundromat could thrive and what kind of laundromat services might be needed. The most important demographic factors to consider are:
- Population density
- Renters vs. homeowners
- Family size and structure
The overall population density close to your laundromat is the most important demographic information you will need. There’s no point in going to the effort of researching the average income of residents in your target area if the population density is too low to support a new laundromat. 12,000+ people per square mile is a good starting figure, while a higher population density may support a bigger store.
If you are thinking of opening a laundromat in a downtown area close to factories or other businesses that employ a lot of people, note that the daytime population will be larger than the residential population and may draw in commuting or even commercial customers to your store. Similarly, if your laundromat is located in a tourist area, the summer population is likely to be many times greater than at other times of the year.
Typically, self-service laundromats will do best in low to middle-income neighborhoods, but this doesn’t mean they are the only areas you should seek out. Many store owners will look for an area with a diversity of household incomes. They see lower-income households as potential self-service customers and higher-income households as possible wash & fold customers.
Renters vs. homeowners
Laundromat owners tend to prefer neighborhoods with a higher ratio of renters to homeowners, as those in more permanent residences are more likely to have their own laundry appliances. Within this renting demographic, however, you want to look further into the types of rental properties people live in. If there are lots of older multi-housing properties in the neighborhood, you need to consider what type of laundry facilities are available in those buildings. The laundry rooms in these properties may be full of the best washers and dryers, but this is not often the case. If the facilities are not up to scratch, its residents will choose the local laundromat instead.
The average age in your neighborhood is a factor that is sometimes overlooked but could important. In general, younger people tend to go through more laundry than older residents. This is because a young person may wear one outfit to work or school, another to the gym, and yet another for going out at night – whereas an older person might go through a single outfit on the same day. Students in rental accommodation could make loyal self-service customers, while older residents may wish to use wash & fold and delivery services.
Family size and structure
The average family size in a neighborhood is an important household factor, as more people living under one roof means more laundry. Family structure should also be considered, as single-parent families may be more likely to use the time-saving facilities of a laundromat to ease the burden of working a job while bringing up kids.
The language spoken in your target neighborhood may not tell you whether the area will be suitable for a new laundromat, but it will help you shape your store according to the needs of your potential customers. If there are lots of non-English speakers in the area, it’s a good idea to put up signs both in English and your customers’ language. Employing multi-lingual staff could also make your customers’ experience in your laundromat even more convenient.
Did you know? Electrolux Professional and Wascomat equipment come with Compass Pro. This easy-to-use interface can display two languages at once – perfect for neighborhoods where more than one language is spoken.
Ready to start a laundromat? Laundrylux has over 65 years of experience helping new investors achieve their dreams of owning a profitable business. When you partner with us, we’ll guide you through every step of the way from finding your perfect store location to providing you with the best possible equipment to make your profits soar. Contact us today to begin your journey!