The current landscape for vended laundries is full of opportunity – particularly as more people are choosing to use central laundry facilities for their regular washing. However, like any business opportunity, the outcome is influenced by several factors, including location, demographics, equipment and access to utilities.
On a broad scale, local population demographics are an important predictor of laundromat success. Those most likely to use a laundromat generally include time-poor working families and people living in small spaces like high-rise units, so it’s important to choose a location that will be convenient for these customers. Statistics show that approximately 80% of customers at any laundromat live within a short distance of the facilities, which is why it’s so important to consider demographics when choosing a location.
Location & Facilities
The right location can dramatically improve the overall customer experience. Having cafes, shops and other conveniences nearby is a key consideration for customers who want to make their laundry time productive and enjoyable. Given that customers have to carry often-heavy loads of laundry from their cars into the laundromat, close parking facilities are also essential.
Many stores also offer a variety of facilities to improve the laundry experience, including:
- Free Wi-Fi
- Music and TVs to create a fun atmosphere
- Snack machines with discounted treats
- Comfortable seating areas to pass time
The best equipment setup for your business depends on your customer base. Child-free working professionals are generally satisfied with smaller capacity commercial washing machines that provide outstanding wash quality, whereas families generally look for machines with the capacity to handle the weekly laundry load, including bulky items like doonas.
When using large vended commercial facilities, customers expect a better experience than what domestic equipment can provide. The majority of our stores are equipped with industrial washers and dryers for a better, faster laundry solution capable of processing each customer’s laundry in an hour or less.
Industrial equipment is also a more sustainable investment as these machines are durable enough to last 30,000 cycles, or 8 cycles per day for 10 years – significantly longer than domestic products, which typically last around 3,000 cycles before going to landfill.
Electric vs Gas Dryers
On larger sites, dry time is a key consideration behind the decision to use a commercial dryer rather than a home laundry set up. Stores catering to customers in retail spaces need a gas supply capable of meeting the high demands of industrial dryers, and in most cases, it’s impossible to heat these dryers via electricity due to the high amperage demands.
On the other hand, smaller sites in holiday parks or shared living generally opt for electric heat dryers. Also, although electric dryers take longer to dry garments, time is generally less of a constraint in these facilities.
Manual or Automatic
Traditionally, all stores offered manual dosing, meaning customers would need to bring their own detergent or buy small boxes in store at premium prices.
Most of our new stores now use automatic chemical dosing, which improves the customer experience in several ways. Not only do customers love that premium detergents are included for those with sensitive skin, but there is also less chemical spillage, reducing cleaning requirements for owners and maximising machine lifespans.
Since COVID-19 sped the transition from coins to cashless payment technology, customers and owners have become more comfortable with mobile / tap payment, and even struggle to understand why the “coin mindset” was so hard to break. Removing cash from site creates the following advantages:
- The customer experience is simpler and more enjoyable
- Owners receive transaction data which helps with understanding trends and promoting strategically – for example, creating specials and setting promotional pricing for quiet times
- Owners can set up loyalty programs to encourage return visits
- Reduction in theft and vandalism
It’s also worth noting that while the initial outlay and set up costs may seem significant for new laundromat owners, a well-run business in a prime location with the right equipment can generate a significant ROI.
For each new installation, Richard Jay performs comprehensive demographic assessments, deriving information that helps store owners establish a profitable business.