Have you ever felt so confident in your well-ironed suit/dress going for that business meeting? How about the day you were going on that first date, feeling so good and smelling so fresh? Would you have still felt the same way, if the person you were meeting for the first time on that date, appeared looking so shabby, all rumpled and very un-kept?
What would you have done, if you were in a position to help that your date, wash and iron his/her clothes? What if you have your own laundromat business that you would have referred him to? Okay I am very sorry, I am not here to talk about a business meeting or a casual date. However, I will be talking about how to start a laundromat business in 2021 and profit from it.
There is no gain-saying the fact, that despite all the technological advances in the world, and with so many tools at our disposal to help us manage our time, yet people all over the world are still been pressed for time on a daily basis. This is perhaps due to the fact that there are more and more things dragging and vying for our attention.
It is very ironic that we now have more tools and less time at our hands. The good news however, is that this lack of time is allowing more and more entrepreneurs to step in and close up the gap. One of such areas where opportunities are springing up is in the area of starting a laundromat business.
As more and more people are jostling to meet up with the demands of family, job and everything else that drags their attention, they are having less time for household chores like doing laundry. This is a very big opportunity for starting a laundromat business and thereby help fill this gap. More so, another massive opportunity area, is because in the quest to address the perennial shortage in housing, more houses are been built and most of the houses don’t have onsite laundry services, it then mean there is a growing need of people who wants and needs their laundry done. Who else would provide this service if not you?
In this practical guide, we will be looking at the step by step process on how you can start a laundromat business, scale it and profit hugely from it. You may not have all it takes, but we promise that if you can follow through with the practical steps outlined below, you will have your laundromat business up and running in no time.
- CHOOSE A NICHE
The first and important step in starting your laundromat business is to decide on the niche or rather the type of customers you want to serve. There are many options available to you, but you have to decide which format of laundromat business you will be operating with.
The question is, will you be offering services to apartment buildings dwellers, businesses/corporate organisations, college/university students, where customers come in and do their own laundry or will you be operating a format where you do the laundry for them, like washing and folding service, and will you be including delivery service? So will you be offering all of the above formats of services or which option will you be going with?
After deciding on the format for your laundromat business, you will also have to decide on your business model. Will you be using a franchise model or will you be buying the machines on your own to start the business? Each of the models have their advantages and disadvantages, but it is left for you to decide the model that will best fit your resources, location, and determination for success.
As a guide to help you decide, don’t just choose a model out of excitement, but rather you should conduct a market survey, find out what other types of laundry services are existing in your intending location and also find out if there will be enough demand for your services in that area.
Information they say is the currency of the 21st century, and having the right information about laundromat business in your area will help you decide if your decision will become a wise and profitable one in the future or not.
- GET A NAME AND REGISTER YOUR BUSINESS.
As a business owner, you would not want a situation where customers will be wondering or trying to remember the name of the business they are dealing with. So you have to go through the process of coming up with a catchy and sticky name for your business. A name that will not be difficult to pronounce or too hard for customers to remember.
Once you have come up with a name that you are satisfied with, you should immediately contact the company house of your state or country and get the name registered. You have the option of registering your name as either a sole proprietor, limited liability partnership or limited liability company. You may have to contact a lawyer for proper advice on the best form of business structure that will be best suited for your laundromat business.
Once you get the name registered, you should quickly reserve a domain for your business if the name is available, and also create social media accounts with the name, as you will be needing them later for your marketing efforts.
Now that you have your business registered, it is the best time to also register with the customs and revenue board, so you will be able to remit taxes when you start operations. You should also apply and obtain Employer Identification Number (EIN), as this will be a requirement in applying for other permits and licenses your business will need to operate fully.
In registering your business, we will recommend you register your business as a limited liability company, as doing so have some advantages, when it comes to situations such as losing of personal assets when the business runs into trouble, the limited liability option will preserve your personal assets if such situations arise.
- WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN.
Planning to start your laundromat business without a business plan is like starting your laundry business without washing machines and other equipment, you may be able to wash few clothes manually, but there is an extent to which you can go, if you want to run it as a professional business that will generate sustainable income.
In like manner, having a business plan will serve as a road map and a compass for your new business. The process of writing your business plan will help you to think through the whole process of what your business is all about, what services you offer and how you intend to achieve them.
Your business plan should help you answer questions such as
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
You can either write the business plan on your own, or hire a professional to do it for you. If you decide to do it on your own, there are so many free business plan templates you can access online and use them as a guide, and then tailor them towards the specific needs of your business.
Depending on the needs of your business, your business plan should be in-depth and detailed, so you can present them to investors, partners and bankers if you need a loan, which there are all indications, you will probably do.
All business plans may be slightly different from each other, but generally speaking, all business plans should have the following components.
- Executive summary
- Business structure
- Marketing plan
- Target audience
- Financial plan (source of funding)
- Financial projection/cash flow
- GET PERMITS/LICENSES/INSURANCE
Beyond registering your business, you will also need to get some required permits and licenses. This however depends on your state and country of operations. A good step to take is to contact the chamber of commerce or any relevant association and find out the permits and licenses that are required to operate a laundromat business. For instance, in most cases, you might need a health department or water pollution control license, but it all depends on your state and country of operations.
It is safest to consult a business attorney for proper understanding of all the permits and licenses needed, as you would not want the state authorities to close up your business in the future, simply because you do not have the requisite permits and licenses
A non-negotiable, however is getting insurance cover for your laundromat business, as you cannot do without them. Every business have some reasonable levels of risks and uncertainties, and you will not want to leave your business to chance or luck.
So it is very important that you consult an insurance broker to guide you properly on the different types of insurance covers and the one that will be suitable for your business.
- GET A LOCATION
Remember the work you did earlier by choosing a niche for your laundromat business, now is the time to get an actual location for your business. Now that you have your business registered and you have a handy business plan, you should then find a location that will be suitable for your business.
You may decide to start your operations from home, if you are starting on a small scale and if also your state laws allows you to operate from home, if not you should however look for a commercial space, bearing in mind that your laundromat business will require some plumbing work in your new found space, unless you are buying over an already existing laundry business.
While looking for a location, there should be two key factors at the back of your mind, which is the right space and the right location. It will make no sense for instance to find the right space, without the right customers, that is why it is very important to find the right space and the right location.
As a guide try as much as you can to find a space close to apartment buildings, colleges/universities, as renters and loungers will represent a high portion of your potential customers if that is the niche you want to serve
In your quest to finding a location, do not fail to also consider security, so that your business don’t become a victim of robberies and other crimes.
- GET YOUR EQUIPMENT
We gave an analogy with business plans and washing machines, so you cannot effectively start a laundromat business without getting the right equipment and machines for the business. Now that you have secured a location for your business, it is time to buy the equipment needed. The machines and equipment you will buy will however depend on the size of the space and the resources available to you.
The essential equipment you will need are as follows
- Change machines
- Credit card payment system
- Laundry carts
- Security cameras
- Soap dispensers
- Vending machines
- Change machines
From your business plan you would have been able to capture or anticipate the likely costs for the equipment, and washing machines no doubt are the most expensive items on the list. On average, laundry machines can cost you anywhere from $500 to $300,000+, depending on size and capability.
- SOURCE FOR FUNDING
You probably might not be fortunate enough to have inherited large sum of money, so you will obviously need some money to start your laundromat business. We will therefore list the various options available to you to raise the capital needed to start your business.
- Personal savings
- Friends and family
- Bank loans
- Business credit card
- Equipment loan
Each of the above options have their pros and cons, simply weigh your options and see what works best for you. For instance though grant is free money, but not all types of businesses are eligible for grants, more so, you might qualify for equipment loan, as the equipment will serve as the collateral for the loan, but again, it depends on the size of your business and the state or country where your business will be located and the prevailing circumstances as at the time you are getting ready to start your business.
- OPEN A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT.
Many entrepreneurs will always want to fall into the temptation of using their personal account as their business account. It is a wrong thing to do, you should therefore open a business account separate from your personal account, as this will save you a lot of trouble in the future, when it gets to the time of paying taxes.
There are many available options with regards to business accounts, so you should contact your local bank, find out about the different types of business accounts and make a decision, based on the account type whose terms are favourable to your business.
A major advantage of having a business bank account is that it will help boost your credit score, which will eventually enable you to apply and qualify for a business credit card.
When you finally decide to get a business credit card, it is advised that you choose one that have 0% introductory APR, as this interest free period will help you scale and stabilise your business.
- MARKET YOUR BUSINESS.
Your laundromat business might be as sparkling as a freshly washed and ironed suit, but if you don’t make any efforts to market your laundromat business, nobody will know about your business to patronise it.
In your marketing efforts, you should go beyond the traditional form of marketing and be more innovative and creative with your marketing strategy. The more reason you started your business is to get customers in, so your marketing should draw them in large numbers.
You can use any of the following creative ways to reach out to your prospective customers.
- Social media
- Build a website
- Targeted adverts on google, Facebook etc.
- Listing in directories
- Write blog posts
- Newspaper/magazine adverts
- Word of mouth
- Search engine optimisation
Your messages and the channels you will choose should be such that will resonate with your target audience. So study the medium and channels that your audience spend more time on and tailor your messages with a tone and imagery that will relate with them.
When you adopt the above marketing strategies, your customers will in no time start flooding your business, so you have to offer excellent and professional services so as to keep them coming back. You can also adopt strategies like installing free Wi-Fi in your business place or have television so as to keep your customers entertained, while waiting to get their clothes.
HOW WILL YOUR BUSINESS MAKE MONEY?
You will basically make money by charging customers for the services you provide for them. You can also make money by selling items like detergents or other house hold related items, or you can have a vending machine installed in your business place or sell soft drinks and snacks, so customers can have something to munch on while waiting to get their laundry done.
HOW MUCH PROFIT CAN A LAUNDROMAT MAKE?
The average annual income of a laundromat in the U.S. ranges from $30,000 to $1 million, according to Brian Wallace of the Coin Laundry Association. Average profit margin is between 20% and 30%.
You can make less or more depending on factors such as size of the business, number of customers and also if you are working in the business, instead of paying more staff and also carrying out your own maintenance for instance. If you have multiple locations, you may be able to net 10-20% margin after operational costs.
There are no guaranties that magically following the above steps will move your laundromat business from point zero to destination one billion, but the above steps will surely get you started, and you will then need your skills, talent, resources and determination to complete the rest of the journey.
The key decisions you will make along the way and how willing you are to follow through with your business plan will become the foundation upon which to build a sustainable and successful laundromat business.
You can read a million of this type of practical guides, but if you are not willing to take any action, nothing will change. Are you the person we can count on to make that bold decision and start a laundromat business? Will you be able to carry the responsibility? Prove it with your actions then.
What are your thoughts with regards to this guide and are there any business ideas you want us to write about? Let us know in the comment section.