The commercial laundromat can consistently produce a steady cash flow in both good economic times and bad. With upfront payment for your services and virtually no inventory to monitor, a well-designed commercial laundry will practically run itself by attracting a faithful following of repeat customers. If you invest wisely in high-quality equipment and create a clean, inviting environment, you should turn a profit fairly quickly.
Identify a location in a high-traffic, densely populated area. Although coin-operated laundries usually cater to low- to middle-income families, some higher income households might enjoy the convenience of a wash-and-fold service at their local laundry.
Select a space that has good sidewalk access, sufficient parking and enough floor space to accommodate your equipment, folding tables and seating areas. The typical commercial laundry ranges in size from 1,200 to 5,000 square feet. Strip malls often are well-suited for laundromats because such locations typically have a concrete slab floor and flat roof deck—two features that keep construction and installation costs down.
Install oversized doors that offer easy passage to customers carrying large baskets of laundry. Automated sliding doors are a welcome sight to the patron who doesn’t have a free hand to pull a door handle at the laundromat.
Lay a durable, nonslip floor throughout the entire laundry area. Water and detergents will spill, so a textured or rubber floor will prevent falls and lower your liability risk.
Create a bright, inviting environment by installing high-wattage lights and painting the walls a light color.
Choose front-loading, large-capacity machines over top-loaders. Large-capacity machines tend to be most popular because they allow users to do fewer loads and finish their chore more quickly. Consider purchasing equipment that accepts electronic card systems instead of coins to reduce upkeep costs and to enable remote monitoring.
Configure your floor plan to provide a smooth workflow. For patrons to easily spot open machines, they must have a fairly unobstructed view of the facility from front to back. Place your largest-capacity machines closest to the main entrance for customers with heavy, oversized loads of rugs and slipcovers. Allow aisle space wide enough to accommodate laundry carts without compromising space for more machines.
Provide racks for hangers and spacious tables for folding clean clothes. Laundry carts are also a necessity and should be accommodated in the floor plan; create small alcoves where laundry carts can be stashed when not in use to keep the aisles open and obstacle-free.
Create sufficient seating areas close to the washing machines to make customers comfortable during their wait. Public restrooms are an absolute necessity, and you may also want to install vending machines, a small play area or arcade games to entertain children while their parents busily work.
Hire a good plumber and electrician. To adhere to local building code and protect against future leaks or power outages, you need a team of professionals who are experienced in configuring utilities for this type of business. Commercial washers and dryers also generate a lot of heat, so you will want a powerful air conditioner.
After your laundry opens, keep your facility clean and your machines in good working order. Your customers are short on time and want to get their work done. If they regularly encounter “out of order” signs, they’ll take their business elsewhere.
- laundromat image by Scott Patterson from Fotolia.com