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1

Decide Which Type of Laundromat Is Right for You

Believe it or not, there's more than one type of laundromat to choose from. The two biggest categories are:

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    Self-service

    In which customers simply pay to use the facility's washers and dryers

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    Full service

    In which customers can pay to use washers and dryers but also have access to additional services such as wash and fold, dry cleaning and the like

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    Delivery service

    In which customers leave their laundry outside their door for pickup and delivery, saving them time while still taking advantage of laundry services.

With a self-service laundromat, you can expect to hire minimal employees (or no employees at all, if you don't mind doing the cleaning yourself). With a full-service laundromat, though, you'll need to hire staff to wash, dry and fold customers' clothes.

But remember, it's your business, and you can have some fun with it if you want to. Take for instance the World's Largest Laundromat in Berwyn, Illinois. With a children's play area, free donuts and coffee, plenty of TVs and even a bird aviary, this laundromat is anything but basic.

Another prime example is Spin Laundry Lounge of Portland, Oregon. With a focus on sustainability, an eco-friendly soap shop, artisan laundry accessories for sale and on-site arcade games, this laundromat turns a chore into an experience.

World's Largest Laundromat
World's Largest Laundromat
Spin Laundry Lounge
Spin Laundry Lounge

So don't be afraid to get creative while deciding which type of laundromat you want to open, whether you want to keep it simple or start your city's first laundromat/cafe/comedy club combo.

 
2

Get to Know the Laundromat Industry

Before you start your journey toward becoming a laundromat owner, it's important to get familiar with the laundromat industry as a whole.

Laundromat History and Current Trends

The first modern laundromat was opened in Fort Worth, Texas, in the 1930s, and coin-operated machines were invented in New York in the 1950s. Both have been widely used ever since, and today the U.S. laundromat industry brings in about $5 billion per year.

There are approximately 30,000 laundromats across the country today, and the majority are individually owned and operated.

Laundromats tend to be the most successful when located in close proximity to people who rent apartments, though homeowners who need to use large-capacity machines patronize laundromats, too.

 
3

Plan Your Laundromat Business

So you've decided that you want to open up a laundromat business, and you're ready to get started. Now, it's time to plan your business. To do so…

Consider Potential Locations

Location is everything when it comes to laundromats, so be sure you're opening yours up in a place where there's sufficient demand. Remember, most of the people who use laundromats don't have a washer or dryer of their own — think renters and college students.

Check Out Retail Space

Most laundromats occupy at least 1,000 square feet of space, so be sure there's retail space in your chosen location that's big enough.

Research Other Laundromats

If there are other laundromats in your preferred location, research who owns them, how long they've been in business, what they charge and how many machines they have. Better yet, pop in to do some laundry yourself — you'll get to see everything firsthand (and leave with fresh, clean clothes to boot).

Identify Your Unique Selling Points (USPs)

If there are other laundromats in your area, you'll need to have something that sets yours apart. For instance, maybe you'll have an attendant there 24/7 to keep everyone safe, or maybe you'll have a staggering selection of detergents and fabric softeners.

Choose a Name

Now's a good time to start thinking about what you want your laundromat business to be named. And once you come up with one you like, be sure to conduct a business name search to see if it's already been taken.

 
4

Write a Business Plan

All types of businesses can benefit from a business plan, and laundromats are no exception. So before you start shopping for washing machines, create a business plan first.

When you're finished, your plan should include:

  • An executive summary that describes your laundromat and what will make it special
  • Your goals, such as to generate a certain amount of profit within one year or serve a certain number of customers within six months
  • A description of your laundromat business, including where it will be located, your main target demographic and the retail space you'll occupy
  • A market analysis that examines the demand for a laundromat in your chosen location, as well as a summary of nearby competitors
  • An overview of your business structure, i.e., whether you'll have employees or not and whether you'll be going into business alone or with a partner
  • Your business model, which will include charging customers to use your machines and may include vending machines, detergent sales and the like
  • How you'll market your business, such as through local online search ads, social media, local publications and online map listings like Google My Business
  • Financial projections, revenue and profitability based on how much you'll spend to open the business, how much you'll spend on ongoing costs and how much you expect to earn
  • Appendices, which can include any data sources you've used while creating your plan, as well as any other resources you want to remember
 
5

Set Up Your Laundromat Business

To get your laundromat business up and running, you'll need to officially form your business. And to do that, you'll need to decide on a business structure.

Possible business structures include:

Which don't require you to file any paperwork with the government (but also don't provide any legal protections).

Which separate an owner's personal assets from those of their business.

Which can offer tax advantages for larger companies.

Which are best suited for large, publicly traded businesses.

For most laundromat owners (and most entrepreneurs in general), an LLC is the best choice. That's because you'll have fewer regulatory requirements than S Corps or C Corps, but you'll be able to keep your personal assets separate from your business assets — something you couldn't do with a sole proprietorship.

Once you've decided which business structure is right for you, you can make the business registration process a breeze by filing your laundromat with Incfile.

Your work's not done yet, though — obtaining retail space and commercial washers and dryers will also require an initial investment. According to some sources, that investment will cost you somewhere between $200,000 and $500,000.

However, you could end up spending much less (or much more) depending on the cost of rent in your chosen area and the number of machines you plan to buy. For instance, if you buy a laundromat with machines already in it, you won't have to worry about the cost of machines, but you'll likely pay more for the space.

Whatever the case, make sure you know what kind of initial investment you'll need to pay beforehand.

 
6

Hire Laundromat Employees

You don't need to hire employees to have a laundromat, but doing so will ensure that your facilities are always clean and your customers are always taken care of.

If you do choose to hire employees such as janitors or attendants, you can find qualified candidates by:

  • Posting a notice in your laundromat's window
  • Placing an ad on a local online job board
  • Asking friends and family if they know anyone who'd be interested in the position

Just don't forget that if you have employees, you'll also need to have an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

 

Online Resources for Laundromat Owners

Over the course of your entrepreneurial journey, you may find yourself wishing you could get advice from other laundromat owners, investors and industry experts. With the help of the internet, that's not just a possibility — it's something you can do right now.

Some of the best online resources for laundromat owners include:

  • Coin Laundry Association: From in-depth industry reports to directories of parts manufacturers to members-only forums, CLA is a one-stop shop for laundromat owners.
  • Laundromat Resource: As its name suggests, Laundromat Resource is chock-full of resources for current and soon-to-be laundromat owners (plus, its forums are completely free).
  • Laundromat Owners Forum: If you have a Facebook account, you might want to join this active group of more than 11,000 laundromat-owning members.

If you're ready to become a laundromat owner and join the thriving laundromat industry, start your business with Incfile today. We'll make the paperwork a breeze so you can get back to designing and running your area's best new laundromat.

Laundromat FAQs

As you conduct your research and plan your strategy, you might have a few questions. Here are the answers to some of the most common ones:

What Are the Ongoing Expenses for a Laundromat?

Most laundromats' ongoing costs can be broken down into a few basic categories: rent, utilities (primarily water and electricity), insurance, cleaning and machine maintenance. If a laundromat chooses to hire employees, their wages will constitute an ongoing expense as well.

How Does a Laundromat Make Money?

When people want to use a laundromat's washers and/or dryers, they must pay per load of laundry, usually with coins, cards or both. Some laundromats also sell various washing products, snacks and drinks.

How Much Profit Can a Laundromat Make?

The exact amount of profit a laundromat makes depends on its location, customer base, special amenities and other factors. But generally speaking, most laundromats have an average return on investment (ROI) of 20 to 35 percent.

In terms of revenue, a coin-operated laundry facility can generate anywhere from $15,000 to $300,000 per year. The percentage of that revenue that's classified as profit depends on each laundromat's overhead and operating expenses.

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