New Year’s Resolutions

By Bob Nieman, CLA Member posted 20 days ago

  

Laundry Owners Reveal Their Top Business Goals for 2017

CcoverStory_624x358px.jpgEach January, many of us make a list of resolutions to help us live better lives throughout the year. Whether those resolutions are to eat healthier, work out more often, get out of debt or just be nicer to others, the New Year provides the opportunity to begin with a clean slate.

Of course, resolutions can go beyond simply providing that added incentive to get you into the gym a few more days of the week or to keep you from binging on fast-food at lunchtime. They can be extremely useful with regard to your laundry operation, as they can help you more clearly focus on your business aspirations for the upcoming year.

January is the perfect time to review your organization’s goals and to create new ones. All those lingering issues with your laundromat that tend to rattle around in your head late at night should come to the forefront now. In addition, what new ideas have you been thinking about but not yet implemented?

Since the first step toward realizing our goals is to set them, New Year’s resolutions offer the perfect opportunity to put those goals in writing. To help you begin compiling your own to-do list, we’ve asked a number of today’s leading laundry owners to share their own New Year’s (business) resolutions for 2017:

Bob Frandsen
Maytag Laundries
Rush City, Minn.

In 2017, we’re going to replace our old 30-pound stack dryers with new 35- and 45-pound stacks in the last of our eight laundries. The other seven stores have already been upgraded to include new stack dryers. Of course, whenever we upgrade to new equipment, it’s also a good time for us to increase our vend pricing – so the new 35-pound dryers will be $1.75 for 30 minutes, which is up from $1.50 for 30 minutes with the older dryers. In addition, the 45-pounders will cost $3.00 for 30 minutes of drying time, while our 76-pound dryers will go from $4.00 for 30 minutes to $4.50. Having three dryer size options in every store has worked out well for us. All other vend pricing will remain the same for 2017.

Also, we’re in the process of building a new website, which is scheduled to go online this month.

Rita Ferrero
Sierra Laundry
El Dorado Hills, Calif.

Our plans for 2017 include three major projects:

•    Building a new store from an empty shell. This store will be in an area that’s not your “typical” laundromat location, so we’ll will need to get creative with our marketing and capture strategy.

•    Replacing the tile floor in our first laundry with finished concrete.

•    Place more of an emphasis on our business’ internet marketing program.

Bruce Walker
Wash It Kwik
Denton, Texas

My top goal for 2017 is to pay off my business loan by April. I will then be 100 percent debt free – I will own the land, building and equipment. Being debt free brings peace to me and my family, and it enables us to make better decisions with our money.

With a strong cash position, I’m in the driver’s seat. I can’t stand going to the bank and asking for permission to do something. It makes me feel like a child.

Also, with no debt, I can be more generous. In April, a few friends and I are riding dual sport motorcycles from Texas to Nicaragua, and then donating the bikes to a missionary. Furthermore, each of us will be raising an additional $10,000 or more to help build a sports facility – the website for this project is rideextreme.org.

Cash also will be used to replace some aging equipment this year. I’ll be replacing a few 30-pound stack dryers with new 45-pound stacks. And I also plan to replace my aging delivery van.

Lastly, I want to increase my retained earnings substantially, to be ready for any additional opportunities in the marketplace.

A Multi-Store Owner in the Southeast

I will be remodeling one store with a new floor and expanding the space for added seating. In addition, I will be remodeling another store, expanding space for a seating area and adding a restroom.

I’ll be installing new tankless water heaters in a few of my stores, while adding new windows and doors to a few others. I’ll also be putting in new washers and dryers at several of my laundry locations.

Stephen Bean
Woodward Coin Laundry
Detroit, Mich.

As far as our laundry is concerned, we are planning to produce and run more television commercials, as well as boost our online presence especially with regard to the various search engines.

In 2017, we’re looking to capture a greater market share, so we will continue to stress cleanliness and excellent customer relations with our attendants in an effort to increase the “chatter” of positive word-of-mouth publicity.

Michael Zoller                        
Aqua Clean Laundry and Bubbleland
Chicago, Ill.

It’s always our goal to increase revenue. Unfortunately, the city of Chicago is forcing us to raise vend prices with all of their new taxes, and that was not one of our plans.

We have formed a new company, Neighborhood Laundry Solutions Management, LLP, which will focus on not only managing our laundromats but anyone else’s that would like us to help them out. We are always on the lookout for new laundromats to purchase and, if things work out right in 2017, we will have another one.

As far as capital projects, we have several on tap for 2017. We will be putting in a new card system at our Bubbleland location – a system that accepts both cash and credit cards. And we also will be adding new equipment to both stores.

Finding new revenue streams is always a top priority for us at Neighborhood Laundry Solutions, and it will continue to be top of mind with us. We are always looking at what works and what doesn’t work at other store, as well as what new technological advances are in the laundry business.

Tom Rhodes
Sunshine Laundry Centers
Vero Beach, Fla.

We recently updated one of our older laundries and are now in the middle of conducting an extensive renovation at one of other older stores, which was built in 1982 – and definitely looked it.

Regarding any major upcoming purchasing or selling decisions for 2017, I’ve come to rely heavily on the quarterly ITR Economics report – available to Coin Laundry Association members – to help govern our purchasing and selling decisions.

John Henderson
Liberty Laundry
Broken Arrow, Okla.

We will be taking advantage of an opportunity to add more space to one of our locations this spring. This store was the second one built in our three-store chain, and it’s in a leased space within a small strip center. At 2,400 square feet, it’s the smallest of our stores, but it’s also the busiest. At times, drop-off laundry orders cover the floor of our service area, making it extremely difficult to conduct business.

Back in 2010, when I negotiated the lease on the store, I turned to the Coin Laundry Association to get information on how to do that, as I had never negotiated a lease before. Fortunately, one of the topics I found in a white paper published by the CLA was asking for “right of first refusal,” which is basically calling dibs on taking over the lease space next door, if it becomes available.

You see where I’m going with this, right?

The space that’s becoming available is small – only 800 square feet… 20 feet by 40 feet. The layout and lack of easily accessed utilities make it impractical for installing laundromat equipment, but, boy, it’ll make one heck of a closet!

The landlord anticipates it will take him a couple of months to renovate the space, as it had been occupied by a dog groomer for more than 20 years. He plans to completely gut the space, replace the HVAC including ductwork, and basically make the place habitable again. We will be adding a doorway between the locations as well. Although the space will be welcome storage for us, I’m also contemplating ways to make enough additional revenue from it to at least pay the rent.

One idea is possibly installing a flat iron to expand our tablecloth business. I’m also thinking about turning the front part of the space into a retail area, either for our customers or perhaps subleasing it. That’s another CLA-inspired line item in my original lease, which will now cover both spaces. Most likely, we will take over the space in March or April.

Other 2017 goals include continuing to pay down debt, refining our processes and reducing employee turnover.

Ron Kelley
EZ Coin Op
San Jose, Calif.

Here are some of my major plans and goals for 2017:

“Store No. 1” is going to receive a complete remodel. This will include updating equipment to 320-plus G force. In 2011, the first part was done with the installation of 18 high G force machines. They have worked out exceptionally well, so now the remaining 15 frontloaders will be replaced, and 20-pounders will replace all but eight of the store’s toploading machines. My 20 12-year-old 30-pound stack dryers are being replaced with eight 45-pound stack dryers and 11 30-pound stacks. What’s more my six 75-pound dryers will receive complete facelifts, with all new graphics and trim pieces. The T-bar ceiling will be replaced, and the lighting updated with LED bulbs. In addition, the customer service area will be redesigned, and the restroom will be on par with the nicest in the industry. Lastly, a new hybrid card system, which has already been purchased, will be installed.

“Store No. 2” was a new buildout in 2014. Some of the newer equipment was reused, so in the fall it will receive replacements for those frontloaders and nine new 30-pound stack dryers to go with five 45-pound units and three 75-pounders.

“Store No. 3” is going to receive new wall covering and an update to its restroom.

Also, I’ve identified a specific area where I would like to add a fourth store, but thus far trying to locate the building has been frustrating. However, I’ll continue to search for what is necessary.

Andrew Modrall
Newport Wash & Tan
Newport, Ky.

I have just one store, which I built from scratch about 11 years ago. The laundry portion of the store is dominant, and tanning represents only about 5 percent of my revenue.

I have three tanning rooms, near the front counter of the store, which is fully attended. Because our wash-dry-fold business continues to grow, the plan for 2017 is to reduce our tanning rooms by one and use that additional space for shelving and hanging bars to help further facilitate the WDF segment of the business.

Since our second year in business, the store’s attendants have handled the wash-dry-fold business during their regular shifts. However, this portion of the business is growing so rapidly that this year we plan to add another staff member, who will work exclusively on wash-dry-fold orders at night when the laundromat is closed.

We also plan to promote our drop-off laundry business through local channels, as well as on social media. To date, our wash-dry-fold business had grown simply through word of mouth and a sign in the store window.

For the longest time, we charged $1 per pound for WDF loads. However, last May 2016, we increased our price to $1.25 per pound. Our thinking was that this price increase would slow the growth of this segment of our business without reducing our drop-off laundry revenue.

We were wrong!

Business didn’t slow down at all. Wash-dry-fold is a service that today’s convenience-minded customers want – and a 25 percent price increase didn’t deter them. It’s this boost in price – with no slowdown in volume – that has prompted us to take steps to expand this part of our business.

Art Jaeger
Simi Valley Laundry Center
Beverly Hills, Calif.

The best way to defeat the myth that stores plateau after three years is to annually perform business planning – with the annual objective of increasing your revenues, reducing your expenses and enhancing the customer experience.

In 2016, we removed our last eight toploaders, replacing them with five 70-pound washers, added multi-vending capability, upgraded our POS systems to accept chip cards, purchased a van to further our commercial laundry operations, added ceiling fans and new evaporative coolers to another location to provide a cooler environment for our customers, and installed Power Save units to reduce electricity costs and provide surge protection in all locations.

For 2017, we’re currently planning the following:

•    Re-facing the channel letters at a location where they’ve become faded due to direct exposure to the sun.

•    Upgrading our oldest in-store surveillance system from an eight-camera system to a 16-camera HD system with independent IP addresses.

•    Upgrading two locations to LED lighting, as inspired by the article in PlanetLaundry’s November issue.

•    Examining the feasibility of developing a separate commercial laundry processing location to help alleviate the intense competition for washers and dryers between our in-store customers and our wash-dry-fold needs.

•    We will be increasing washer, wash-dry-fold and possibly dryer prices to coincide with state and city increases in the minimum wage.

•    We will add two new employees to our wash-dry-fold staff.

Yvette Morton Williams
Wash & Spin Coin Laundry
Atlanta, Ga.

Our laundry underwent several improvements in 2016. We installed automatic door openers, a new 100-pound washer and two new 75-pound dryers to better serve our large-volume customers. We also changed all of our seating and painted the store.

In 2017, we plan to revise our company logo, website and other marketing materials, as well as our surveillance system – updating some of the original cameras with 1080p models.

Mark Murray
Adrian Fabricare Center
Adrian, Mich.

We develop a short “annual plan” in December each year, which incorporates all of our major goals for the following year. The plan is simple, typed on about half of a page and posted for all to see. I hang a copy of this annual plan on the wall in front of me so that I see it every day. This list includes new processes, marketing goals, training priorities and equipment needs for the upcoming year. These are the goals we work to meet. We just reviewed the 2016 goal sheet – celebrating the successes, while also challenging ourselves on the items that fell between the cracks.

For 2017, our goal sheet includes installing six additional 60-pound washers and four additional 50-pound dryer pockets, as well as adding several folding tables and minimally updating the store’s décor.

However, the majority of our focus will be cross-training our staff to be able to cover each other's responsibilities. Training will be our highest priority in 2017.

Boyd Woodard
BW Laundry Inc.
Newport Beach, Calif.

Here’s a brief list of some of key upgrades and changes I’m looking to make with regard to my laundry business in 2017:

•    Replace florescent lights with energy-efficient LED bulbs in my largest store.

•    Drive market penetration with a spring promotional and direct mail campaign.

•    Grow my drop-off laundry service by redesigning the company website, while also enhancing my marketing campaign through increased use of social media and improved SEO.

•    Convert my quarters-only store to dollar-coin-only, as well as raise my vend prices across the board.

•    Always keeping an eye out for another good laundry location.

Eric Benson
World’s Largest Laundromat
Berwyn, Ill.

Typically, we favor year-long commitments to ongoing innovation over annual initiatives. However, with that said, we do have two major goals for the business in 2017. We plan to increasingly promote our own custom-made brand of laundry detergent called Gigi, which we’ve used in our drop-off laundry business and began selling to the public last year. In addition, we’re looking at the possibility of updating and modernizing the store’s exterior signage.

Ken Barrett
Washin’ Coin Laundry
Pell City, Ala.

In 2016, we opened a new store about three miles from one of our current stores. This was not on my list of 2016 plans, but we have to be ready for opportunities when they arise.

The past few months have mostly been monitoring the customers as they adjust between the stores. As expected, a number of my self-service customers have moved to the new, unattended store. With this change, our 2017 plans will be to increase the drop-off laundry volume at our attended store now that we have more access to the equipment.

Other plans include a restroom renovation, flooring upgrades and a review of our operation standards to confirm they are accurate and to ensure that our attendants are as efficient as possible when it comes to handling the increased production. This increase also may require an expansion into an adjacent storage unit/office area that we own.

I’m also working on a marketing calendar and budget for 2017 so that we can be more proactive and less “seat of the pants” throughout the year.

Tyesha Offiong
A&Q Laundry Room
South River, N.J.

My goals for A&Q Laundry Room include three key initiatives:

First, we’re looking to expand the A&Q Laundry Room brand to a different location. I’ve done some research and have a couple of locations in mind that range from 2,500 square feet to 3,500 square feet. The new location could be an opportunity to gain some insight into card systems in order to aide in streamlining the management of our equipment. The experiences of our current Laundry Room have educated us as to what to do and what not to do. For example, “do” install flooring that is durable, with less maintenance and cost efficient; although commercial vinyl tile may seem like the most economical way to go, the overall maintenance adds up. “Don’t” hire attendants that merely can do the job but lack the proper personality. Customer service requires a person who not only can do the job but also has the personality to engage with customers. And, clearly, when the new location is ready, marketing, grand opening events and advertising will be other key goals.

Secondly, we plan to explore utility reduction opportunities. We can’t forget about our current location. Our utilities have seen a decrease over the last year. However, we will be looking to discard our old water heater and install an on-demand water heating option to further reduce utility costs and improve the customer experience. We’ll also begin looking for a more efficient heating option to keep the store warm during the winter season. There is no time like the present to retool and address what is or isn’t working when it comes to reducing utility costs.

Lastly, we’d like to increase our laundry’s marketing. The business’ overall foot traffic has increased since we opened in 2015, but we can always use a boost in marketing and advertising. Although word-of-mouth is great, perfecting our direct mail marketing and tapping into social media is a key. We currently offer random raffles, free wash periods and free soap as incentives for our customers. We also encourage customer feedback and suggestions for ways to improve the overall experience. These suggestions have led us to add new products to our inventory, which has boosted our over-the-counter sales by 30 percent.

Eliciting customer feedback is critical. However, the observations and feedback from our attendants is equally important. Acknowledging their contributions creates employee buy-in – which means happy employees and, in turn, happy customers. Happy customers mean repeat business, free advertising and increased revenue.

Martin Vago
Mas PQ Services
Hollywood, Fla.

My list of business goals for 2017 includes (1) hiring a new bilingual attendant, (2) replacing all of my fluorescent lights with LED lighting; (3) increasing the volume of our wash-dry-fold business, (4) replace our existing floor with porcelain tile flooring and (5) looking for – and hopefully purchasing – a second laundry location.

It sounds like a lot, but I can do it.

Cathy Neilley
Spin Doctor Laundromat
Hamilton, N.J.

In 2017, we’re looking to complete the outline of a Spin Doctor franchise/licensing offering. The outline would include the type of equipment required, branding elements, the level of training and an FAQ document that would provide additional details about the operation.

Also, we’ll be adding a part-time manager to the staff; preferably by promoting within. This step will free me up to be think more strategically and to more effectively drive the growth of the laundry business.

In addition, we are trying to find a drycleaning partner. A significant number of drycleaners in the area also perform wash-dry-fold services, so if I successfully identify a dryclean-only enterprise willing to partner with me, I can effectively broaden my scope of services and compete for business customers who especially want both drycleaning and laundry services.

Jim Whitmore
Sunshine Express Laundry Centers
Gloucester, Mass.

Last year was a very good year at Sunshine Express Laundry Centers. We’d done some end-of-year tweaking of our equipment mix and are hoping for a strong 2017 – with growth in the 15 percent range.

With that said, one of our major goals for this year is to update our company website by the end of May. Also, we plan to have a structured program for online marketing and social media development in place by the end of March. A third initiative for 2017 is to have new exterior signage by September 30.

Those are my top of list for this year, along with staff development and training. What’s more, our leases no doubt are one of our great assets, so we will be revisiting and reviewing them by the end of March as well.

A Laundry Owner in the Midwest

Our plans for 2017 include implementing a free transportation service – to pick up and deliver customers and/or laundry to the store. We also plan to grow our full-service product by seeking new commercial accounts this year. We have an extremely busy self-service operation during the day, but we’d like to increase our turns during the overnight hours.

Enrique Del Rivero
Los Lavaderos
Los Angeles, Calif.

In 2016, we attended the CLA’s Excellence in Laundry Conference in Ojai, Calif., and it helped us focus on what our business goals for this year should be. Given that, the obvious main goal in 2017 – and every year – is to increase profits while keeping our expenses under control.

In addition, this year we will remodel two stores with a modern-looking minimalist style that has helped separate us from other self-service laundries and also tends to appeal to today’s Millennial customers.

With an increase in the minimum wage and utility costs, we are scheduled to raise vend prices on certain types of washers. We also plan to be boost our energy efficiency by installing LED lights outside and taking advantage of utility company incentives.

Moreover, we’re scheduled to expand our pickup and delivery service for wash-dry-fold laundry, which is a segment of the business we expect to see grow by 20 percent in 2017.

The last goal is to try to find a laundry with property to purchase, as this would strongly position Los Lavaderos’ continued growth in the industry.

John Albers
The Laundry Shop
Franklin, Wis.

Perhaps one of the biggest things we haven’t been doing lately is advertising and promotion. So, in 2017, I want to get back to advertising and marketing the laundry business. We plan to update our website and find better ways to perhaps leverage the internet to promote the business. We’ll certainly be looking at the major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing – and doing what we can to optimize our listings on those search engines.

The other major initiative we have planned for this year is to concentrate on adding some extended-stay hotels to our list of commercial laundry clients. Lately, our wash-dry-fold and commercial accounts business has been taking off. It’s been the area where we’ve seen the most growth. It’s catching on here in Wisconsin, and people are loving the service.

Those two area are where we plan to focus the majority of our efforts in 2017.

Marty Mullican
Owasso Express Laundry
Owasso, Okla.

For an internal operations standpoint, we want to update, organize and expand our Owasso Express Laundry employee manual. We made a good start last year, but now comes the discipline of keeping it updated, fresh and relevant as we learn, mature and expand the business. This manual needs to be a living document – not living, but undernourished or on life support.

With regard to management and leadership, we will have our store manager join us at The Clean Show this June in Las Vegas. She has never been to the show before, and we believe that anyone who manages a 4,500-square-foot, fully attended, modern laundromat with a growing wash-dry-fold service needs to attend at least one Clean Show. So we’re making that happen. In fact, we’ve already purchased the tickets and hotel rooms.

As far as marketing and branding, we will expand our internet and social media presence in 2017 by adding a Google-certified “street view” internal virtual tour. We just contracted with a Google-certified photographer, and it will happen this month.

As for me personally, I plan to say “thank you” more – to both my customers and staff. It’s sometimes easier to point out areas of the business that could be improved, while leaving the appropriate gratitude for my customers’ loyalty and my employees’ hard work in silence. Owning and running an attended self-service laundry truly is a team sport – especially with a growing wash-dry-fold practice – and I have much for which to be grateful.

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