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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.