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Running a Coin-Operated Laundry

Like many coin-operated business ventures, coin operated laundries offer ongoing cash flow with limited demands on your time. You can operate your business in one of three ways: you can operate a laundry room within an apartment building or complex, have your own facility, or both. By operating a laundry room, you have a ready-made clientele, do not have to worry about finding a good street location, and have some measure of security; however, laundry rooms also are generally restricted to the tenants and thus this approach caps your potential client base, and you will probably have to share a portion of your profit or pay a set monthly fee to the building owner. Having your own facility makes you responsible for location related issues as well as attracting a customer base. Because of the "public access" nature of these businesses, you will likely need to pay for an attendant for daily cleaning, assisting customers who run into difficulties with the machinery, and as a security measure to discourage vandalism and theft.

Getting started means finding a location and acquiring the laundry equipment.

  • choose a location based on current and anticipated demand. Since your customer base primarily will be people who do not have laundry machines of their own, look for large groups of apartment dwellers or renters in duplex homes. If a significant segment of your customer base will drive to the laundry, adequate parking is also necessary. Then, try to judge the local competitive landscape: if a rival coin laundry opens nearby (e.g., in a large apartment building that previously did not house one), your customer base can erode overnight.
  • commercial laundry equipment can be very expensive and thus require a large investment upfront. In addition, plan for significant repair costs. If you buy an existing laundry, with older equipment, this maintenance cost is likely to be higher than for one with newer machines.

You can save substantial money if you repair your own machines. This requires an additional time commitment and a desire to work with machinery, but it does not require a lot of knowledge.

Finally, because operating coin laundries is a popular business venture, a lot of information to help you get started is available. You may find it a good investment to learn from others' experiences before you start, even it it ends up persuading you that this is not the right business for you.

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