Why Location Matters in the Success of your Laundry in Category Getting Started
Every retail operation must have a location to do business. Given a choice, all commercial laundry owners would choose a great location. The only way to make an informed decision is to evaluate the location and its benefits. This evaluation process is nothing more than gathering the relevant information regarding the prospective site for the laundry. The more pertinent information gathered, the greater the opportunity to uncover that great laundry store location.
Before beginning the search for that great location, consider the type of laundry that you’re looking for: Should the store be located in the country, suburbs or in an urban center? Should the store be in a strip mall, a free-standing building or on a commercial or residential street? Are you going to rent the location or own? Will the store have off-street parking for customers? Is the parking sufficient for the laundry? Are neighboring businesses going to reduce parking at critical times like nights and weekends? How big will the store be? 3,000 square feet? Bigger? Smaller? Should the store be attended or unattended? What additional services such as drop-off laundry, dry-cleaning, shoe repair or tanning should you offer.
After finding several potential sites that meet your criteria of proximity, availability and space, it’s time for the next step. Now you want to begin to gather the necessary information to make a decision on your laundry. Is this site a great location, a good location or a poor location? Gather information on the demographic and population makeup of the site; its marketing area; the competition provided by other laundries in the marketing area; the traffic patterns in the area of the potential store; the visibility of the store; and what other types of retail stores are in the immediate vicinity.
Do you know who the potential customers living in your area? What are the demographics for the neighborhood you will be doing business in? Some of the things you need to know are: population; percentage of renters, condo owners and homeowners; percentages of single households, single parent households, and families; average income in regards to percentages of the population; any population increases or decreases. The “typical” customer is in the middle-to-low income bracket and lives in apartment buildings, condominiums, mobile homes, college campuses, etc., but of course, customers can vary greatly.
Your Dexter Authorized Distributor can not only professionally recommend potential laundromat or washateria locations, but also can provide you with a complete demographic report of the neighborhood and help you analyze if this market has the critical mix of population to help your neighborhood become a success.
Analyze Your Competition
Before opening a laundry, or any business for that matter, you want to be sure to analyze the competition you have in the market area. Be sure to visit existing stores and apartment laundry rooms in the area so you know what amenities they offer and what you have to compete with. When you’re visiting the competition, be sure to note: the size of the store; services they offer (dry-cleaning, wash-dry-fold, etc.); whether the laundromat is attended; how the store is equipped (number, brands, and types of laundry equipment); vending price for each size of machine; how many dryers; whether there is a sufficient amount of dryers to take care of the peak washing times; is there a changer, an ATM, a soap vending machine; is the store card or coin operated; do they offer snacks, video games or other vending; what other amenities are offered (wireless internet, free coffee, etc.).
Be sure to note the condition of the store. Is it clean and well maintained? Is all the equipment functional? Do they have machines out of order? Do the washers and dryers look new or old? What types of signage does the store have inside and out? Are there enough chairs and folding tables for the customers? Is the store hot or cold? Is it air-conditioned?
Take a look at the outside of the store and do some consideration on how customers get there. Do they drive? Take the bus? Walk? Is this laundromat on a main thoroughfare or on a side street? How visible is it? Can customers easily access the store? Is it located on a one-way street? Is the street divided by a permanent barrier? Will customers be able to maneuver easily into the store’s parking lot?
When customers leave with their clean clothes, will they be able to safely enter the traffic flow? At what speed does the traffic pass by the store?
For the outside of the laundromat, also take a look at the parking lot and neighboring businesses. Do they have a parking lot and are the number of available spaces sufficient? Is the lot clean, maintained and well lit? Can the store be seen easily from the road? How much of the storefront is glass? What kind of signage can be used to attract customers? Are there any signage restrictions for their area? Be aware of other retail stores, bars, offices, banks, etc. in the store’s neighborhood. Do the other businesses require long-term parking for their customers? Are they successful and profitable? Look run-down and dirty?
These basic questions help evaluate a potential laundry site. These issues must be adequately addressed before moving to the next series of steps in securing that great location. The most important thing to remember while searching for a great location is to do your homework.
Selecting a Location
Researching each potential site is vital to finding the right fit for your business. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and rely on your Dexter Authorized Distributor for guidance. That’s what they are there for! Take advantage of their many years of expertise to maximize your investment’s success. When looking at a location for your laundry, here are just a few things to keep in mind.
- Utilities: A potential laundromat or washateria location should have the capability to provide all the necessary utilities …water, sewer, gas and electricity that you will need to operate your business. Be aware that there may be initial water and sewer hook-up fees, which are also called impact fees. They could cost several thousands of dollars for an entire store and should be carefully evaluated. Occasionally the landlord may be willing to pay these fees as a condition of the lease, however if they refuse, they may agree to amortize the cost of the impact fees into the rent so the renter does not have to produce the capital at start-up when there are many other initial costs.
- Visibility: Another consideration when selecting the location for a coin or card laundry is to look for a good, well-lighted building that is not too far from the street, preferably at or above road grade level. Make sure to look for good visibility from the outside of the store. Keep in mind the speed limit and traffic direction on the street when considering a location; can drivers see the store and its signage while driving by? Can they easily turn into and out of the parking lot? You’ll want to avoid locations in heavily congested areas that are difficult to access. Check and see if there is anything blocking the view of the potential laundry from the street. If things such as signs, trees, other buildings block the view of this business you may want to think twice about this location.
- Type of Building: You will need to make a decision on whether your laundromat should be free standing or in a cluster of stores such as in a shopping center or mini-mall. There are pros and cons to both. Free-standing buildings offer more for potential layouts, but strip center laundries have an advantage of late-night activity and ample parking. If acquiring a store in a strip center, when possible, negotiate the lease when the strip center is being built. Get in early to pre-negotiate for a better chance to arrange for the landlord to build in many of the early costs. There are a lot of benefits for a potential store owner in a strip center, primarily a long-term lease, which is the security that most landlords are seeking.
Be sure to work closely with your Dexter Authorized Distributor to look into any city or county permits, taxes and regulations that may be in place for laundries in your area. They are familiar with local rules and legislations and can assist you with the paperwork. For example, some cities require building permits from the Public Works Department if doing extensive remodeling, Or if building a new store, the city or county sanitation district may require the owner to pay a sewer hook-up fee per machine. Some cities enforce parking requirements and safety codes. These types of considerations should be thoroughly investigated before committing to any potential laundry location.