1. MAKE SURE YOUR LAUNDROMAT FEELS SAFE
The Laundromat industry is often a business owned by men and used by women. Concentrate on what
women want. Safety is the most common request of women. Take a look at the following items to see if
your Laundromat has safety as a priority.
Reducing your lighting may save a few dollars on your electric bill, but it may also chase away valuable
customers. Try to keep all your Laundromat lights working to ensure your Laundromat appears bright,
safe and clean. If the light tubes are dirty, wipe them down or if your lights are recessed replace any of
the plastic light covers that have turned yellow. Outside lighting is also important to encourage people to
use your Laundromat in the dark of the evening. Have your outside lights on an electric eye or a timer
and request your Landlord keep the community lights in good working order.
Control Your Access
One source of lost revenue can be traced to a failure to control access to your business. When your
Laundromat restroom becomes the neighborhood restroom or when the homeless find the inside or
outside of your business to their liking, your income suffers. Finding someone sleeping in a dryer or
taking a "shower" in your restroom fails to encourage women to use your Laundromat. Sometimes
teenagers hanging around to use your video games costs you more than you make on the games.
Wild Child In Your Laundromat
It's your Laundromat so don't be afraid to tell your customers what behavior is expected. Children climbing on laundry carts, jumping up and down, walking on folding tables or playing in your machines should not be tolerated. Be polite but be firm. Children can be injured if your let them use your Laundromat as a playground. Never allow children behind your washers or dryers or leave a door open so they can wander behind when your back is turned. Moving parts and little fingers don't mix.
Wet Floors & Falls
Slip and Fall accidents are the most common claim against Laundromat owners. Check to see if your washers tend to overflow on the floor if customers put in too much soap. Check behind the machines to ensure the floor drains are not clogged with lint and debris. Have your workers be careful when they are mopping floors and use cones or signs telling of a wet floor when they are mopping. (Never have them mop the floors in their bare feet.) Watch for customers with "flip-flops" near any newly mopped areas. Warn the "flip-flop" wearers to stay away until the floor is dry. The "flip-flop" and wet floors don't mix very well.
Install and mount one accessible fire extinguisher for every 1500 Square Feet of your Laundromat. Keep a first aid kit available for your customers and cleaning people. Post your emergency number inside your Laundromat and make sure your cleaning people have all your telephone numbers in the event of an emergency. I suggest you also schedule a repeat safety inspection at least once a year.
2. MAKE SURE YOUR EQUIPMENT WORKS
Washers That Work
When your customers put money (or cards) into your washers, dryers and vending
equipment, they expect them to work. They should also work safely. Check your top
loaders to ensure they stop spinning when you raise the lid and that front load
washers and your dryers shut off when the doors are opened. All of your front load
washers and dryers should never be able to be opened when they are in operation.
Be sure you know how to turn off the power to all of your machines in an emergency
and that all your help is trained as well. It's a good idea to mark the turnoffs of water,
gas and electric with red paint and information signs so there are no delays in the
event you need to shut down these utilities.
Find a repairman in your area and keep your equipment operating. Very few successful Laundromats have a reputation for out of order washers and dryers. They just look bad and create a bad feeling about your business. Purchase CD or paper service, parts and repair manuals for your equipment. Try to repair the equipment the same day you have a problem. One of the biggest turnoffs to a customer is to lose money while using your Laundromat. Even if you promptly provide a refund, the machine failure leaves a lasting negative impression. Make sure all the cycles on your washers and dryers work properly so your customers don’t have to deal with washers and dryers that only partially work. Laundromat ownership is a simple business that deals with a basic necessity of life. Keep it simple and remember that you are in the washing clothes business so keep your washers and dryers working all the time.
Tools & Parts
When you are first starting out it's a good idea to have a set of tools in a plastic tool box. There's water
in Laundromats so the metal cases tend to rust and the metal tool boxes can chip the finishes on your
washers and dryers. If you have the ability to change a vacuum cleaner bag you have the skill set to do
many of the maintenance items in your Laundromats. Here is my suggestion for a basic tool kit you
should have available at all times at your Laundromat: 2 to 3 types of pliers including lock,channel,
needle nose and a snap ring model, box cutters, level, wire cutters, magnet for pickup up dropped
screws, flashlight, hose clamps,set of crescent wrenches, various sizes of screw drivers (both Phillips
head and slot), wire stripper, nut driver set in various sizes, and an electrical tester. It's also a good
idea to buy some spare parts and keep them in stockin your Laundromat. You can check with your parts
house, previous owner and your repairman of the common parts that fail. It's expensive to have your
serviceman running to the parts house so you can save a lot of money if you keep your own inventory
of parts. Here are the items I like to keep in the backroom: belts, lid switches, pumps, water values,
hose clamps, igniters, sail switches, dump valves and any other part that is a common failure item on your brand of equipment.
3. MAKE SURE YOU KEEP YOUR LAUNDROMAT CLEAN
Keep your Laundromat clean. A well run business is tidy, neat and a place that you want to clean your clothes. We're in the business of clean and it should start with the way you keep the interior of your Laundromat. Keep the machines clean, the floors mopped, the cart wheels clean and the walls wiped down. Run your hand over flat surfaces and see how much dust you detect. The restroom is often overlooked by owners, but if you keep it dirty, it can make a negative impression on your entire operation.
Some Laundromat owners refuse to put paper toilet rings and liquid hand soap in their restrooms because they can be stolen or vandalized. If you choose to put these items in your bathroom, it's a good idea to use a foaming antibacterial soap such as the one sold by Proctor & Gamble. You don't need to purchase soap with an "E-2" rating (no smell)unless you're also going to be serving food. The lack of fragrance in E-2 products allows workers to detect foul odors during food preparation.
A soap dispenser also is a much better choice than a bar of soap. If you're going to have a pay toilet lock on your
toilet, you probably need to have the proper supplies. Some cities and their health departments might also require
these items. to have a pay toilet lock on your toilet, you probably need to have the proper supplies. Some cities
and their health departments might also require these items.
Keep your backroom areas clean of debris and dangerous chemicals and never store any chemical cleaner, WD40
or abandoned clothes near a water heater. Clean is usually the responsibility of your cleaning crew. In addition to
knowing how to clean, require your employees to treat your customers with respect and to always display a pleasant, cheerful and courteous attitude to your customers. Talk to your customers and ask if they are treated well when you are not there to observe.
A clean Laundromat begins with hiring a good employee. Find someone who lives nearby and can make frequent trips to your Laundromat. If you don't provide a uniform or an attendant apron, make sure the dress of your attendant reflects cleanliness. (You might also elect to use a contract cleaning service.)
Take the time to train your enployees so they understand what is expected of them. Make a list of the items they must do everyday and what priority you give to them. I always want my workers to check the restroom first to ensure that there is toilet paper, hand towels and no water on the floor. Remember that some people are better at keeping things clean, so you can't be afraid to replace the workers who just don't seem to understand what clean means.
It's hard for some owners, but you have to do it to be a successful operator. Make a plan and work the plan: 1) Make your store feel safe, 2) Keep your equipment working, and 3) Keep your Laundromat relatively clean.