2021.6.11

Are laundromats profitable?

Written by Kit Jenkin

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Are you searching for a new investment or business idea? Have you done all the research but haven’t yet found the right option for you?

Well, we’ve got a suggestion for you: laundromats!

Now, we know what you’re thinking: laundromats? How profitable can a laundromat possibly be?

Turns out, they can be very profitable. 

According to the Coin Laundry Association [1], the average laundromat in the US can have annual revenues of around $300,000. Statistics show that owning a laundromat is a very safe investment, too. According to Laundrylux [2], 95% of laundromats live past their first five years and provide returns that, in aggregate, are 25% higher than returns from the average mutual fund. 

Laundromats are also recession-proof [3]. They don’t experience a typical business cycle - there may be peaks and dips here and there, but it’s an industry that stays steady.

So, if you’re efficient and savvy, you should be able to turn a healthy profit from your laundromat.

However, it’s not that simple. A good business owner needs to continuously keep every aspect of their business in tip-top shape to turn a profit. Many people invest in laundromats because they think it will give them the flexibility to pursue other interests or jobs with a passive income stream. 

But laundromats, like any business, require attention and hard work. You could make a pretty penny [4], but you could also sink a lot of money into a failing business.

Here are some factors that can affect the profitability of your laundromat. 

Costs

This is one area where new investors may get in over their heads. Running a laundromat can be expensive, especially in the short term. The start-up costs [5] for a laundromat can run to upwards of $200,000. This can include the cost of mortgage downpayment, repairs, renovations, and machinery. There are some success stories available to read on lundromats101.com which share the journeys of business owners earning massive profits from their laundromats. If you can get over the first hump of the upfront costs, things become much easier.

Competition

Laundromats are an essential service. No matter what, people will need to wash their clothes. This provides a built-in demand that you can easily satisfy. Simple, right?

Absolutely. In fact, it’s so simple that lots of other people think of offering a laundry service.

You’ll be competing with other laundromats in your area, so you’ll want to do some market research before you start operating. What do other local laundromats offer, charge, and do to make their customers happy? How can you then compete with these places?

You won’t just be competing with other laundromats, either. You’ll be competing with apartment complexes that have laundry facilities. Think of things you can offer people that will get them out of their apartment buildings and into your store. 

Location

You know the old saying: location, location, location. So much of the success of your business depends on you choosing the right location for your laundromat. 

Laundromats rely on local people for their business since the laundry industry is highly location-restrictive. Most people don’t want to travel more than a mile [7] to wash their clothes. So, you’ll want to choose a location that’s easily accessible by foot or car, ideally somewhere that’s densely populated. 

You’ll also want to do some research about the demographics of your chosen location. In general, customers of laundromats tend to be fairly low-income [8]. People on low incomes tend to rent, and many rental properties don’t have dedicated laundry facilities. These people will be your main clientele. This demographic could include students, service economy workers, and others. 

Make sure to choose a structurally secure building. . Whether you’re renting or buying your property outright, you don’t want to set up in a building that’s on its last legs. A fixer-upper might come with a tempting price tag, but if you’re sinking thousands of dollars into renovations and upkeep after you buy, that will put a big dent in your profits and may keep you in the red for longer than you want.

Marketing

For every business to survive and thrive, people need to know it exists. Raising awareness of your business is vital for its future growth.

Marketing your laundromat could mean doing lots of things, like:

  • Investing in eye-catching signage for your storefront
  • Taking out ads in local newspapers and websites
  • Using social media to broadcast things significant to your business, like sales and special services
  • Getting your business on online maps like Apple Maps and Google Maps
  • Creating a website where people can learn more about your business
  • Paying for online ads through Facebook and Google
  • Partnering with other local establishments to create mutually beneficial marketing campaigns 

Upkeep

No matter what business you take on, it will need to be maintained. Whether that’s repairing broken down washing machines, retiling your floors, or fixing plumbing problems [10], you’ll need to stay on top of everything in your business so that small problems don’t become big ones down the line. If you have any experience with plumbing or electrical work, you might be able to tackle these problems yourself. If not, you’ll likely have to rely on tradespeople to keep everything in your business ticking along.

Management

A laundromat can be an incredibly passive income stream for some people, but that doesn’t mean you can take your hands off the wheel. You’ll need someone there at least some of the time to monitor the store’s machines, conduct janitorial tasks, refill any detergent dispensers you may have, provide change to those who need it, and more. 

If you’re strapped for time, it can be very easy to hire someone to mind the shop while you’re away. It would be best to hire someone with some electrical, mechanical, and/or plumbing knowledge to ensure they can step in and handle things in an emergency. 

Extra services

While a simple laundromat on its own can be a great investment and passive income stream, it’s by no means the only way to make money. Lots of laundromats offer extra services, such as dry cleaning, fluff-and-fold, and garment repair.

Some laundromats offer large seating areas where customers can sit and spend time while their loads are being completed. This has led to many laundromats offering food and beverages, like sandwiches and coffee. Some even provide free WiFi to let their customers browse the web and work while they wait, turning their humble laundromat into a de facto cafe. 

Other laundromats install arcade games [11] to help their customers pass the time. 

Expand your business

If you’re happy with just running a laundromat, this article should have told you everything you need to know. 

But if you want to expand your business into offering food and beverages to your customers, you’ll need a dedicated point of sale system to handle all your transactions. 

Our cafe and coffee shop POS gives you all the tools you need to run your daily operations:

  • Process orders and take payments in seconds
  • Set up, onboard and train staff in minutes
  • Get online delivery and pickup features
  • Access business insights through any device
  • Take advantage of real-time reporting on staff, customers, sales, margins and stock
  • Connect with hundreds of apps, including payments systems, accounting software, and more
  • Create a branded profile for your laundromat/cafe on our app-less mobile ordering platform
  • Integrate with your preferred payment provider

Contact Epos Now today to find out more about our systems and how we can help.

 

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