HOW TO CONTROL YOUR COSTS & LOSSES
When you purchase a Laundromat you need to remember that a dollar lost is not a dollar you get to spend. Some owners have to learn the hard way and lose some money before plugging money leaks.
Here are three things you can do to control your costs. First, make sure you control your keys. Second, make sure you know various ways you can be cheated. Third, make sure you learn some basic repairs so you can save money on service calls.
1. KEY CONTROL
During the transfer of ownership a bag or box of keys and several rings of keys are given to you. Forget what the old owner did with his keys and follow this advice. Separate your keys into three types. The first is the collection keys which open the coin boxes, soap machine and changers. The second are the service keys that open the service locks on your equipment. The third is the door and miscellaneous keys that open doors, ladder padlocks, electric panel locks and other items.
Check to make sure you have more than one of every key. Put the extra keys into a box and set them aside to take home with you. Now make up a ring of the service keys. These you will carry with you when you are in your Laundromat. Second, make up a ring of the collection keys which
you will not carry with you unless you are going to collect. Third, make up a ring with the various other access keys. Finally, make up a ring of keys to open the bill changer, the entrance and the back door.
Attach this ring to the key ring you have for your house and automobile. These are the keys you will take home in your pocket.
If you buy an existing Laundromat, be sure and change out all the coin boxes and door locks. The service keys are not normally required to be changed. When you buy new coin boxes, do not key all the coin boxes alike. The loss of one key gives access to all of your machines. Key them alike in groups of ten or twenty or buy coin boxes for each type of washer. Example: all your dryers are on one key, top load washers on another, 30-LB washers on another, 40-LB washers on another and so forth.
When you buy your new locks make sure they are not tubular or round keys. Select a high security lock that is resistant to "picking" and is difficult to duplicate when the key is taken to a regular locksmith.
2. SOME WANT IT FOR NOTHING
Be aware of those who would like to take your money or your services for free. There are some washers and dryers that can be beaten by "the hook." This is a metal bra wire pushed into your coin drop mechanism to make your coin mechanism think an actual coin has been inserted.
Another method of stealing washes from you is to use a service key to open the service panel and trigger a free wash. A relative or friend of a service person with a spare service key can start your machines for free. The solution is to change the service locks to a non-standard key.
Rubber gloves and "Q-tips" are used to cheat older coin slides. A sign that you have someone using rubber surgical gloves (the quarters are inserted into the fingers and then placed into the slots) is finding bits and pieces of rubber (from the surgical gloves) in your coin boxes. Replace the slides if this becomes a regular finding.
If you have front load washers with a plastic indicator dial cover showing the progress of the wash cycle inspect them carefully. The plastic indicator dial can be connected directed to your mechanical timer. By drilling a tiny hole, it is possible to use a paperclip to push the cycle indicator. This starts the machine. Sometimes the clear indicator covers are missing or can be removed with your hand. If you discover any of these conditions, contact your distributor to purchase a heavy Plexiglas cover for your indicator dials.
Collections should be done on busy days when your Laundromat is full and there are a lot of witnesses. The second best time to collect is in the early morning before your store opens. Most thieves are sleeping at 6:00 AM.
3. DO BASIC REPAIRS YOURSELF
You have to learn to do some basic maintenance and repairs yourself. Let's start with a few simple ones that you can do without too much skill or risk of damage to your machines.
Water Valve Filters
Tank less Water Heater Coils (advanced)
1. In a large plastic tub, mix deliming solution with water according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. You can use white vinegar or a commercial deliming solution.
In the olddays, we used muriatic acid (available from a pool supply company) and an acid proof pump. Today the quality and thickness of the coils is such that heaters must be properly treated to protect pump, gaskets and the copper coil. Connect a submersible pump to a hose. An acid resistant submersible pump will set you back about $50.00 to $100.00. The plastic tub about $10.00. Check to make sure you have the adapters to connect to the water heater inlet and outlets.
2. Turn off your water supply. Disconnect the hose at the inlet of the water heater. Connect your hose to the connection at the heater inlet. Tighten the hose. Remove the discharge end of the heater to another hose. Put the unattached end into the five gallon container.
3. Turn on the pump and circulate the solution through the coil until the discharge solution stops foaming. When foaming stops, the coil will be clean. It should not take more than one hour for this process; a little longer if you're using white vinegar.