Smart Investment Leads To A Growing Laundry Business
In 2013, real estate broker Louis Oh found himself wanting to pursue a new business investment that would provide additional income. Louis was not ready to give up real estate completely; he needed to find an investment opportunity that would provide him with a flexible schedule so that he could continue his real estate work.
Originally, Louis looked into opening a restaurant franchise, but when speaking with a laundromat owner in his community, he learned about the hands-off management capabilities and steady income associated with a vended laundromat and knew it would be the perfect investment opportunity.
GETTING STARTED IN THE LAUNDRY INDUSTRY
Once Louis made his decision to invest in a vended laundromat, he began searching for the right opportunity to ensure success. Louis found Automated Laundry Systems, an IPSO® laundry equipment distributor located in Burbank, CA, who is known for developing turnkey laundromats. In a turn-key laundromat, the distributor coordinates the design and build of the store, and then has an investor step in to acquire and run the laundromat business.
Louis worked with Automated Laundry Systems and their professional design services team to turn his vision of a bright, clean and welcoming store into a reality. Automated Laundry Systems helped Louis make the store more customer-friendly by adding better lighting, painting and designing the store layout. Louis officially began running Amor Lavanderia on December 1, 2013.
"After nearly two years of owning the laundromat, my IPSO laundry equipment continues to run very well. There is a designated technician from Automated Laundry Systems who comes in once a week to check on the machines. And, while minimal maintenance has been needed, it is great to have one consistent person for these visits. I trust my technician and he has a good understanding of my business and the equipment," Louis says.
When Louis made his decision to work with Automated Laundry Systems to develop the turn-key laundromat, he went to a few banks to discuss financing the new business endeavor.
Louis found that the banks he spoke with did not have a good understanding of the laundry industry, so it was much harder for them to provide the financial support and counsel Louis needed. Louis found that beyond equipment, IPSO offered many additional areas of support and expertise that benefitted a first-time vended laundry owner. Louis saw this as the perfect opportunity to help him get started. He worked with IPSO Finance, the equipment manufacturer's in-house finance operation, to develop customized terms to help Louis finance the business.
"IPSO Finance has extensive knowledge of the laundry industry, enabling them to guide me as I created my initial plans to invest in the laundromat. We developed terms that were flexible for my specific needs and these customized terms helped make it possible to set up a payment schedule that allowed the business to grow and begin to turn a profit quickly," Louis recalls.
CREATING A SATISFIED CUSTOMER
The location had ideal demographics for a successful laundromat, and was designed and built to create a comfortable and relaxing environment to attract new customers. Louis also added large televisions and a vending machine, offers a wash-dry-fold service and has an attendant on the premises at all times. Additionally, Louis provides large faucets, soap and paper towels for customers to use for additional cleaning needs. To further please customers, he has impeccably clean restrooms available and air conditioning – amenities that competitive laundromats do not provide.
"There are other laundromats in the area, but I knew that I would not have a problem bringing in and maintaining a customer base if I made my store clean and a place where people felt comfortable," Louis shares.
Amor Lavanderia is open 24 hours a day to accommodate diverse schedules, which also helps Louis' business stand out from other laundromats in the area. Even with customers in the laundromat at all times, Louis makes it a priority to keep the entire laundromat and the machines very clean. Louis' staff cleans each machine every night, which is not an easy task, as the 7,000 square foot laundromat has more than 80 washers and 88 dryers.
"My customers are very happy with the size and cleanliness of Amor Lavanderia. There are many different machines to meet customer needs, including washers that range from 18 to 80 pounds," Louis says. "When I speak to my customers, nearly all of them are happy with the services provided and express their appreciation for a large, clean laundromat in the neighborhood."
Additionally, customer service is very important to Louis. He has all of his employees welcome the customers into the laundromat whenever they arrive and ensures, his staff can help them to the best of their ability.
To help bring in new customers when Louis opened the laundromat, he handed out fliers and completed door drops to promote the business. He also provided a free laundry bag to customers when they showed the flier during their first visit.
"These grassroots efforts were very helpful in attracting new customers when I first opened the laundromat," shares Louis. "Now my customers continue to come back and tell others about Amor Lavanderia because they are always very satisfied with their experience. Word-of-mouth and customer referrals are my best form of marketing now."
PLANS FOR A GROWING BUSINESS
After nearly two years of running a profitable laundromat, Louis is looking to expand his business. He plans to purchase the building that he currently leases from his distributor, and is also looking to purchase another laundromat in the near future.
Louis has already begun conversations with IPSO Finance about a second laundromat, and once a new location is found, he plans to work with Automated Laundry Systems to ensure the new laundromat has the same aesthetic qualities – high ceilings, bright lights, new paint and a clean environment – that he knows have a positive impact on his customers.
"I am very happy with my decision to invest in a coin laundromat. The business has provided me with the additional income I was looking for and still lets me continue my real estate work. Automated Laundry Systems and IPSO Finance helped me get started in this industry, and they continue to provide ongoing support. I have learned a lot in two years and look forward to expanding my business," Louis says.
Contact us to learn more about how IPSO can help you get started in the vended laundry business, and visit our distributor locator to locate a distributor near you.