Thinking about opening a laundromat? We tell you what you need to know to get started.
Laundromat, Dry Cleaning or Both?
One of the most important business decisions you will make as a laundry startup entrepreneur is the business model you choose for your operation. The laundries business is very diverse. Some business models target low-income consumers, while others cater to the high end of the marketplace.
As you might expect, the Laundromat business model appeals primarily to renters and students who lack onsite laundry equipment. The advantage of a coin-op laundry is that labor costs are exceptionally low and there is the potential to create a 24-hour moneymaking machine.
On the flip side of the market are dry cleaners that target business professionals and individuals with pricier wardrobes. Although there is more work involved with a dry cleaning operation, the financial rewards can be significantly greater.
Before you settle on a specific business plan, you will need to research the needs of your target market since the market itself will often dictate the most effective business model. In mixed use geographies (e.g. apartments and office parks), it may be possible to launch a combined Laundromat/dry cleaning startup.
Marketing Tips for Startup Laundry Businesses
The "if you build it they will come" plan works great in Hollywood, but in the laundry industry it's a recipe for disaster. To bring customer into your business, you will need to create and executing a marketing plan. Here's how to get started . . .
- Discounts. Discounts and coupons are a surefire way to improve traffic to your laundry startup. Laundromats and dry cleaners offer a commodity – service quality is relatively the same from one provider to the next. By offering grand opening and weekly discounts, you can incentivize local residents to give your business a shot.
- Location. Location will be your laundry startup's most important marketing tool. Think about it: for most people, laundry and dry cleaning are a matter of convenience. If you choose a location in a high traffic area, convenience alone will deliver a fair amount of initial traffic. On the other hand, if you choose an out of the way location, no amount of marketing in the world may be able to deliver a sufficient level of business to your operation.
- Targeted advertising. Advertising definitely has place in laundry startup marketing. But it achieves its greatest impact when it is geographically focused. Community newspapers, fliers, even online advertising mediums can be leveraged to squeeze maximum ROI out of your advertising dollars.
Business Plans 101 for Laundromat Startups
Startup entrepreneurs slave over the creation of their business plans, investing countless hours in the details of their startup strategy. Now it's time to address details about your industry.
Industry analyses are standard chapters in laundromat business plans and are often required by lenders or investors. Industry analyses are critical for contextualizing your startup within an industry setting.
Although you'll need to provide the right information, you'll also need to be careful to avoid common industry analysis mistakes because the wrong tone and content here could negate all of the hard work you've invested in the rest of your business plan.
Investigate the Competition
Prior to launching a laundromat within your community, it's essential to see how many competitors you have. We've provided the link below to help you generate a list of competitors in your city. After clicking on the link, type in your city, state and zip code to get a list of laundromats near you.
Is the local market large enough to support another laundromat? If not, you had better be sure that you are doing things much better than the competition.
Talk to People Who Are Already in the Business
After you've evaluated your local competitors, it's a smart move to have a conversation with someone who is in the business. If you think owners of nearby laundromats will give you advice, think again. The last thing they want to do is help you to be a better competitor.
However, an entrepreneur who owns a laundromat on the other side of the country can be a great learning resource for you, as long as they don't view you as a competitive threat. Many business owners are happy to give advice to new entrepreneurs. Our estimate is that you may have to contact many business owners to find one who is willing to share his wisdom with you.
Where would you find an owner of a laundromat who is willing to talk to you but doesn't live nearby?
It's easy. Here's a link you can use to find a mentor outside of your area.
Gaining Access to Laundromat Ownership
Some entrepreneurs buy existing laundromats, while others plunge headfirst into a laundromat startup. But despite the attraction startups have for many entrepreneurs, you should also consider the benefits of buying a laundromat.
If you're on the fence consider this: There has never been a better time to acquire a laundromat. The down economy has resulted in a glut of available businesses, many of which can be acquired for bargain prices.
Don't Rule Out Franchising
You should know that your odds of surviving in business are much better when you franchise instead of doing it all on your own.
If you planning on starting a laundromat, it's worthwhile to determine whether purchasing a franchise might make sense for you.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.
If you sell to laundromats, you're in the wrong place. These resources are more appropriate for you:
If you are interested in starting a different kind of business, please browse our directory of guides below.