So, you're considering opening a coin laundry business? Congratulations! It's a really great industry; one that all of us here at Martin-Ray Laundry Systems, and our customers, are passionate about. However, any business investment should be weighed carefully. It's not something you jump into unprepared. Martin-Ray has been a leading laundry equipment distributor in the Rocky Mountain region since the 1980's, so we've helped our fair share of laundromat investors get started. We've heard or experienced many ups and downs along the way, and we want to pass the lessons we've learned on to new entrepreneurs. Before investing in a laundromat, here are the pros and cons you should know..
- Great ROI. The laundry industry has a 20-35% ROI and nearly a 95% success rate, according to Speed Queen. How many businesses can say that? Not many.
- Inventory. Unlike a restaurant, convenience store, or grocery store, laundromats have very little physical inventory. That means minimal ordering, rotating, or discarding products, which makes for easier management. It also means you won't have to deal with preparing and storing large amounts of expensive inventory ahead of time.
- Not seasonal or weather-dependent. Many businesses and their products fluctuate with various seasons and holidays. While severe weather and high or low temperatures may impact whether or not people venture out, people always need to do laundry, so there's not a lot of seasonal fluctuation to manage.
- No franchise fees. Generally, laundromats are not franchised like a fast food or service chain may be, which eliminates pricey franchise fees. You also won't have specific franchise rules to follow, meaning your business is yours to build as you see fit.
- Minimal employee management. Many laundromats operate with only 3 or less employees, according to Speed Queen. Not having to deal with scheduling and management responsibilities for a large team can make management, payroll, and other tasks easier.
- Recession resistant. Since people always need clean clothes, the laundry industry isn't impacted by economic recessions as much as some industries, like hospitality, tourism, and real estate.
- Flexibility. This is one of the biggest perks that many owners note about being a part of the laundry industry. You're able to set your own hours and it's highly unlikely you'll have to be at your store 40 hours per week, especially once you get the hang of running your business. Some investors even work another full-time job or use additional time to pursue a hobby more seriously.
- Simplicity. In a typical laundromat, the customers do the majority of the work washing and drying their clothes. That means training, on-boarding, and labor is relatively minimal for yourself and employees, at least in comparison to many businesses. Plus customers pay upfront, which makes accounting and tracking easier.
- Potential for multiple locations and expansion. Due to the flexibility, versatility, and necessity of the laundry industry, there's generally tremendous opportunities for growth. That could be opening another location in the city, expanding your current facility, or offering additional services (like dry cleaning or full wash-dry-fold service). Learn more about picking the perfect laundromat location.
- A great community. Just do a quick search online and you'll find a really great community surrounding the laundry industry. From the Coin Laundry Association to American Coin-Op to laundromat owners, investors, equipment distributors and manufacturers all over the world, there's a plethora of information available and people eager to learn and teach.
- Flexibility. While flexibility is a pro, it can also be a con. As much as your business will be flexible, you have to be flexible for your business as well. When emergencies and issues come up, your business and customers won't care if you're on vacation, sick, etc. You'll likely be tackling problems at all hours.
- The investment can be substantial. Like most businesses, it costs money to get started. Whether you build or rent a facility, there are still a lot of costs. Thankfully there are flexible financing options for laundry equipment, but there's still a large upfront cost to consider. While it can be incredibly rewarding, running a businesses takes a good deal of time, energy, and emotional investment. Commitment and dedication are must-have qualities.
- It's competitive. There's risk involved, just like any business. You really have to bring your A game if you want to be successful. You're competing with other laundromats in the area, as well as multi-housing facilities (like apartments and condos) that may offer laundry equipment, and customers purchasing equipment for themselves.
- You have to be a jack of all trades. When it comes to owning a laundromat, you're a plumber, electrician, businessman, marketer, janitor, and a million other things all rolled into one. You don't have to be an expert necessarily, but experience and basic understanding in these areas comes in handy. If you're considering investing, it would be prudent to try and pick up on some of these skills to help you run your business effectively. Finding experts that you trust and partnering with a trusted distributor (like Martin-Ray Laundry Systems), can help you thrive in areas where you aren't as experienced.
- Costs keep on rising. Many investors note that utilities and rent are some of their biggest hurdles and expenses. As a coin laundry business owner, it's important to keep energy-efficiency top of mind.
- Customers. While customers can be a joy and make the job worth it, anyone who works in a customer service position will tell you they can also cause their fair share of issues. You have to be ready to deal with conflicts, unruly customers, and customers abusing your equipment, just like any other business.
If you think investing in a laundromat might be right for you, check out the resources below and don't hesitate to contact us with questions!