CLA Connect Open Forum

last wash

  • 1.  last wash

    Posted 02-12-2018 17:31
    Hi All,

    I am having a rough time at the moment with customers and our last wash
    at 8:30pm. Some are good...lately too many are being rude and getting
    into it with my attendants.

    Recently a husband and wife got so bad that the police had to come out.
    There is more to this story, but at this time my insurance company has
    it under investigation.

    I have been thinking of hiring a security guard for the last two hours.
    Providing I can get one for two hours each nite.

    Any ideas would be wonderful....

    Thanks so much.

    Debbie Hutchison

  • 2.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-12-2018 17:46

    Instead of hiring a security guard, consider extending your last wash to 10:30 PM. That might work better for you and your customers.

    Larry Adamski
    Muskegon Laundromat
    Spring Lake MI

  • 3.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-13-2018 11:27
    While I agree with you on most things, Larry, I don't think that customers should bully the owner into changing the hours. If the customers are becoming unruly or violent to the point where police have to be called, it speaks of a problem that is deeper than the hours. If the hours do not work for the customer, they should not go to that laundromat. The hours should be communicated clearly such that it's not a surprise to the customers. Maybe working on communicating the hours better with signage is needed. It sounds to me more like the attendant is rude or inflammatory towards the customers and may be inciting bad behavior. The best course of action may just be to invest into some cameras to make sure the kids play nice.

    David E
    Store Owner

  • 4.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-12-2018 17:54
    Edited by Curt Harrington 02-13-2018 13:07
    On that same sign (posted right next to the door as you walk in) [and at several other locations] state LAST DRY 9:00 PM. Then when they come in have the attendant ask "Are you just drying" or Are you just washing". That helps.
    Larry has a good point.  My sign says LAST WASH 9:30 PM. LAST DRY 10:00PM.
    All printed hours are 6AM-10PM despite the door being open at 5:43AM and actually closing at 11PM.

    Curt Harrington


  • 5.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-12-2018 18:24
    Our last wash is 10:30 but we use to have security issues at our one store so we now turn off the auto slide door and lock it.
    if customers need to leave we can let them out and relook and of course you have to try to remember who was washing and left and is now trying to get back in but REALLY helped!

    Ross Dodds
    Wash On Western & WeHo wash
    Los Angeles, CA

  • 6.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-12-2018 20:18
    I hired the barber shop guy next door as a contract attendant and security guard for the last 2 hours.  Flat rate fee.  Beneficial for both of us.

    Chris Mallam
    Norfolk VA

  • 7.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-13-2018 11:13
    Now listen to the GODFATHER !!!!
     What i ran into and how i solved it !!!!

    My mat opens 7-11pm. First had clear sign on the inside. LW at 930. Like usual people coming to wash at 1045pm.initially i let them as we were new.  Once they left at 130am. I said enough. So had on the Front door  in bold vinyl letters LW at 930pm. It dropped some altercations.
    But worse was people coming to wash at 8pm. Leave and come back to put in dryer at 845pm them leave and then show up at 1058pm to get their stuff. AND I AM SITTING ALL ALONE WAITING ON THEM. Now just imagine if it was a employee waiting on them on payroll.

    So then i removed the closing time off front door AND made my closing time on Google as 930pm.

    NO DROP IN BUSINESS. but now we out by 930-10pm.

    And some are still confused as ONLY left LW at 930 on door that they still think we close at 930pm. The smart ones will ask what time we close and i will tell them at 11 but u aint here when load done after 930. We gone. AND I MADE SUCH A SIGN AND PUT IT IN ALL MY MATS ON FRONT DOOR.


  • 8.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-13-2018 12:42

    Hello Thomas,

    To avoid having rough time with customers,

    To avoid aggravation from customers becoming unruly or violent,

    To avoid hiring security personnel or paying overtime to employees

    To avoid customers bullying the owner into changing the hours

    You should train / groom / educate your customers that your work schedule is conscientiously and meticulously set up to satisfied everybody's needs <customers, owner-investor, employees, security, confort, convinience, etc, etc.> and If the hours do not work for the customers, they should not go to your establishment and seek for another laundromat.

    Each one of us at the same time are clients of all kinds of stores, banks, government offices, doctors, hardware stores, etc. etc. and we adapt our daily activities, routines and needs to the working schedules that those establishments had established according to own policies, goals, market participation, profit-making desire, objectives among many others.

    Your working hours should be communicated clearly such that it's not a surprise to the customers.

    Work on communicating your working hours with better signage and more information

    Wall-pasted all over the store <walls, front door entrance as you walk in, on top the machines, front desk, restroom entrance, seating areas, next to TV, video games, vending machines, coin change, etc.> something like this:

    • OUR SCHEDULE to serve you 7 days a week 365 day a year
    • Open 7:30 a.m.
    • Closing 21:00 p.m.
    • LAST washing machine activated at 19:30 p.m.
    • LAST dryer activated at 20:45 p.m.
    • Lights off 21:15 p.m.
    • Alarm connected to police activated 21:16 pm

    On clear warning there are no deceptions, they are not accepted if´s, or´s, but´s expressions.

    You should also coach your employees to avoid rude or inflammatory demeanor towards the customers objections to work schedule and maybe inciting bad behavior both ways,

    Tutor your employees in the way you want / require and demand from them to inform, make understand and accept to the customers the work schedule OF YOUR BUSINESS. (Everybody´s Place of Doing Business)

    Miguel A Gonzalez

  • 9.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-13-2018 12:57
    Hi All,

    Want to say thanks for the info.....

    We close at 10pm, so that is why our last wash is 8:30pm.

    Any other input is welcome.


    [Debbie] Hutchison]
    Store Owner/ Employee
    The Laundry Company
    Carmichael CA

  • 10.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-13-2018 13:30
    I think you should consider staying open until 11, last wash 9:30. Consider the customer who works until 5:30 or 6, has to commute home, feed the kids, gather up the laundry and get to your store. 8:30 might be tough to do!
    I instruct my attendants to tell everyone who walks in after 9 that we close at 11. The front door gets locked at 10. We still have people come in and want to wash after 9:30. If they are a new customer or someone just having a tough day and my attendant can stay we allow it. This policy creates a lot of good will, but if it becomes a habit with someone we say no, get here earlier. My attendants have a life too!

    Brad Seder
    Store Owner/ Employee
    Santa Rosa CA

  • 11.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-13-2018 15:08
    Simple solution that works in some areas but maybe not practical in others. AUTOMATIC DOOR LOCKS.  I did on 5 locations about 2 years ago.  I have some that come in just before closing simply because the doors are locked and they feel safer. They can get out but can't get back in.  No one is rushing them to leave now and they will normally spend more money than being pushed out.

    If if someone comes back 5 minutes too late, with a good attitude, I will usually go let them in. If they call an hour too late, I am "usually out of town" and they can get them in the morning when doors automatically open again.

    Tommy Riddle
    Store Owner/ Employee
    T & T Laundries, Inc.
    Henderson NC

  • 12.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-14-2018 07:47
    Another solution that is possible only if the location & you can support it could be to go with a 24 hour unattended or semi attended business model.

     You didn't state where you are but maybe.  I've seen several in the Florida west coast and a few in SoCal.  There is one which I actually used twice is just North of downtown LA off of the 101 fwy.  So it is possible.  Good luck with finding the best path to resolution.

    Store Owner/ Employee
    Cocoa FL

  • 13.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-14-2018 09:02
    Edited by Paulie B 02-14-2018 09:03

    Going 24 hours is an interesting option for some mats. It certainly solves this problem, but there's more.

    Many years ago, the contractor who built my mats suggested that I switch to 24 hours.
    At the time, we were closing at 11pm, and we had the same problem as the others here, with customers banging on the door, or leaving much later than our closing time. A complete disregard for the attendants and our policy.

    My contractor, who built many mats in NYC said "Not only will you make more money at night, but you'll make more money during the DAY!"
    He went on to explain that all things being equal, customers will always choose the 24 hour mat above one that has opening & closing hours because it's simple. No need to remember a store's hours. People LIKE simple & easy.

    I did go to 24 hours, and he was right. My business during the day went up, and of course, all the closing issues went away.

    Paulie B
    Mr Machine
    New York City, NY

  • 14.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-14-2018 10:49
    Edited by Michael Walsh 02-14-2018 10:51
    Paulie & others,

    There used to be two laundromats in our area that were & one of them still is 24 hour.  Both had horrific fires that somewhat totalled out both of their facilities.  One them rebuilt in a very grandiose way & remained 24/7.   I don't want to speculate ... but do insurance companies factor IMHO an increased risk factor???  I would hate to be paying for increased insurance premiums when I really believe closing at night does make for less risk for the insurance company.  Sure things can still happen ....but alarming the doors & infrared alarming inside seems like would make the insurance company's percentage of the most horrific claims go down.  We are talking mega data long term gathering by the underwriters now.

    High traffic areas ... where there is a flow of people all the time could be an exception but still having personnel more likely to be called because one is open seems to a potential pain.  Recently, one of our local grocery supermarket chains went back from 24/7 at one of their locations here because of security concerns for the amount of business gained.   That is different though a bit because of the stocking logistic needed to be done during slack hours possibly.

    Unbelievably good camera systems have somewhat changed the logistic since back in 1960 when we were open 24 hours possibly.  Maybe an area with no homeless population ... would be a better bet ... not sure....

    Can some of you share first hand where the laundromats that open & close do a better job of staying on top of things just for the simple reason that they are not spread too thin for too many hours 365 days a year?  That statement about the increase even during the day could apply but I for one am a bit wary.

    Michael Walsh
    Store Owner/ Employee
    King Koin Laundry, Car n Dog Wash
    Bismarck ND

  • 15.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-14-2018 18:06

    Insurance rates do go up when you switch to 24/7. Not only for the business, but for the whole building as well.

    Funny thing is, about 9 years ago, a fire broke out about 2:30 in the morning in a convenience store that was in the same building as we were, about 5 stores away from us.
    Since we were attended 24/7, my employees smelled smoke, called the fire dept.
    Two stores were gutted​, a couple more had smoke damage, and we were spared.

    So that was a case where a 24/7 laundromat SAVED the building from total ruin.

    Paulie B
    Mr Machine
    New York City, NY

  • 16.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-14-2018 10:52
    Edited by Miguel A. Gonzalez 02-14-2018 10:57

    Hello all,

    For all those owners operating 24 hours laundromat , can you give me (us) <non 24 hours operators, but evaluating pros and cons> a break down your sales and customers visitors, and equipment TPD usage during the "Owl Shift" hours from 23:00 pm to 6:30 am (in comparison to the regular working hours from 6:30 am to 23:00 pm.

    Percentage wise how much revenue is the "Owl Shift" of your total sales?

    Also percentage wise how much is the "Owl Shift" of total TPD?

    On an average how many customers / visitors use the "Owl Shift"

    If you are attended how much represents salary, fringe benefits and payroll taxes of your total employees´ s expenditure?

    How often and how many times your stores at the "Owl Shift" have been vandalized of your attendants been at gunpoint robbed? And how much was your damage / loss? Does it compensate the risk vs. the revenue obtained?

    My operations are from 7:30 am to 21:00 pm and I want to gather as much valuable and tangible information as possible from the 24 hours experts in order to evaluate it is worth and profitable to even remotely try to go 24 hours

    Hello Paulie,

    Can you deepen/ elaborate on your whole statement and your own experience about " My contractor, who built many mats in NYC said "Not only will you make more money at night, but you'll make more money during the DAY!"

    He went on to explain that all things being equal, customers will always choose the 24 hour mat above one that has opening & closing hours because it's simple. No need to remember a store's hours. People LIKE simple & easy.

    I did go to 24 hours, and he was right. My business during the day went up, and of course, all the closing issues went away. "

    Did your contractor at the time of the advice show you some hard-real-actual numbers from other stores or just "played by the hearings" of other operators?

    Did you believe him and thought let´s give a try or has he presented enough good arguments to convince you?

    How come you will make more money at night, but you'll make more money during the DAY!?, and

    How come your business during the day went up? Were you attending more customers? Were your customers individually expending more money or using more or bigger machines?

    Maybe some of your not so regular customers or commercials accounts, they visualized fewer clients during the day shift and chose to take advantage of that window opportunity?

    Are you still or not 24 hours today?


    Thanks in advance

    PS All information provided will not be shared without previous approval


    Great argument " Can some of you share first hand where the laundromats that open & close do a better job of staying on top of things just for the simple reason that they are not spread too thin for too many hours 365 days a year? " Let´s hear some responses.
    Miguel A Gonzalez

  • 17.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-14-2018 14:11
    Hola Miguel,

     I don't know that no of turns per day, er night are the primary or only motivators.

     The places that I've patronized have a varying degree of activity.  The key advantages I see are eliminating the OPs issue for one.  Cost savings of not having to pay for attendants at all or some of the time.  Opening & closing as an example.

     What kind of price do you want to put on convenience?

     The key of course is the mat location & demographic.  There are locations in South LA for example where it's just too risky.

     Insofar as fire issue that another user posted above.  Theoretically those can & will happen regardless of time of day attended versus unattended for example.

     The fires are typically related to poor maintenance or lack.of attention.

    Store Owner/ Employee
    Cocoa FL

  • 18.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-14-2018 18:16
    Edited by Paulie B 02-14-2018 18:17
    Yes Miguel,

    My contractor was at the time, the most popular builder of mats in NYC. I knew him for many years and I trusted his opinion.

    It's true...At least for me...

    He said (and I agree) that going from a regular mat that closes every night, to a 24/7 mat, upgrades the value of the store in customer's minds.
    When all things are equal, people will choose the 24hr mat simply because they know in the back of their minds, that they will never have to think about if it's open, when it closes, etc. It's a matter of laziness, I suppose.
    So more DO come during the day. It's the damnedest thing!

    We were never held up during the night but, we WERE held up at 11am in the morning!! They robbed us and the customers.

    It does cost a lot more to staff a 24/7 mat, but we already had more drop-offs than we could handle during the day, so I found it handy to get ahead of the pounds overnight.

    The mat is still 24/7 to this day. If you don't have a lot of dropoff work, it will be hard for you to pay the salaries. You have to pay a healthy night differential to get quality employees during the graveyard shift.

    Paulie B
    Mr Machine
    New York City, NY

  • 19.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-14-2018 13:52
    Hi Paulie,

     Yes, I agree. There are many mats in Tampa & south Florida that operate in a 24 hr format.  The older ones are open air even which is altogether a different dynamic.  But they work.

    Store Owner/ Employee
    Cocoa FL

  • 20.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-14-2018 16:24

    Hello Juan,

    What I trying to do is to evaluate, using this Mexican expression "in someone else's shoes instead of mine" <actual 24 hours operators>, it is not only the primary motivators but the amount of income to be obtained during the "Owl Shift", as well as TPD (Owl Shift), vandalism, extra workforce needed, the chances of assault during the same shift, the comparison of risks involved or to put price on convenience to either customers or to me as owner to operate during that period and the paybacks-costs that involve.  Trying to balance benefits against hazards.

    I believe your operations are not 24-hours. So what I need is to do is gather as much as potential valuable information from some 24-hours operators without having to experiment in my own operation. Your experience in the places that you have patronized that have a varying degree of activity is good for your objectives but does not offer me any information I looking for.

    You know, as I mentioned before, I am located in Mexico City, and attended 100% of the time <there I not such not attended any type of business concept down here, not a single one> and although there are establishments that operate 24-hours such as grocery supermarkets, hospitals, restaurants, drugstores and more, they are large chain enterprises with many outlets disseminated around the city some of them in very nice and convenient areas but also in areas of medium to high danger so they can match / equilibrate the benefits to be obtained against the risks to run so many stores in such varied environments. They have deep pockets to cover any inconvenience or having their insurance providers to cover any damage to a specific store because they have so much power to intimidate and threaten the insurance company to switch providers at the least provocation for not covering the damages suffered.

    Also, they have so many employees that for them is really easy to enforce the manipulation and movement of workers around the city and changing their working shifts with minimum considerations. For them, image and "the so-called convenience to customers open 24-hours" the marketing plus and strategy, but for small operators, as myself, we need to really evaluate any possible decision we take on our stores.

    It is not easy to arrive without firm evidence to the conclusion that starting next month I will be operating 24-hours without considering all the pros and negatives.

    I do not want / like to be disturbed in the middle of the night and to have to run to the store because there were some shooting and somebody either got hurt or died and star dealing with corrupted police, dealing with the families of the assaulted person threatening to bring law suits, firemen putting down fires, vandals, drifters, insurance agents so on so forth.

    Yes, I like to provide convenience to my customers, which I consider I do, but also to myself. That is the reason I want to experiment with somebody else´s experiences.

    Yes fires are typically due related to poor maintenance or lack of it, but also due to drying garments impregnated with flammable related chemicals, that is why you must have an attendant in a 24-hour operation either to educate / control customers or to put off the beginning of a fire and minimize the damages if any.

    Miguel A Gonzalez

  • 21.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-15-2018 05:02
    Hi Miguel,

     El D.F. would not support a 24 hour unattended location at all.  Also the likelihood that being open 24 hours and attended would not fit the business case for all of the reasons that you identified.  The risk factor alone is enough to make that option a non-starter for you.  This is why I qualified my statement by stating if your location would support it.

     I've seen several in Florida.  The open air ones are interesting to me but they are money makers nonetheless.  I've also seen & used several in SoCal. I personally know of 2 that keeps very busy but they are so because the core of the 3rd shift operations are wdf activities. But those are simply the exception as opposed to the norm.

     I'm headed to Louisiana soon.  I'll be gathering additional data points & making more observations while there.

     The 24 hour model eliminates the OPs issue with customer conflicts and the other advantages identified previously.  But as you captured, it is not for all.

     The OP should consider staying open longer hours or just find a way to deal with the last wash concerns. The last wash issues are part of the business.  Those that have to open & close deal with that on somewhat of a daily basis.

     Attitude is everything.  If the customer is a regular or comes at me correctly, we've been known to let them in.  After all it takes at least an hour to get everything cleaned up, checked , & ready for the next day.  Even if it doesn't it's part of the customer service that makes you stand out & apart from others.

    Store Owner/ Employee
    Cocoa FL

  • 22.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-15-2018 16:08
    Hi this question is for the guys who are using automatic locks, would you mind sharing about the specific types of locks... brand etc.
    My current manager/ best most reliable employee have expressed a need to slow down (65) she’s the one that opens the store every morning... never missed a day in 8 yrs. she still wants to continue working but would come in later in the day.
    this has started me thinking about what I’ll do when that day comes . We have tried over the years to find her replacement but to no avail. So auto locks on timers is something that I have been considering, we do have another wrinkle to consider ...
    Apart from the front door we also have a roll up gate that that would have to be motorized and able to be open remotely
    Has anyone done this before and will to advise?
    Thanks All

    Sent from my iPhone

  • 23.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-14-2018 17:00
      |   view attached
    I think we all have this issue from time to time. We are a Speed Queen Quantum store so our washers are programed to turn off at 9PM. This takes away any conflict between Attendant and Late Customers as the Attendant has no way to turn them back on. Our Dryers switch off 10PM. To help motivate the slow folders to leave on time we made up this poster. I want to take as much conflict away from the Attendant as possible.

    Ed Ellis
    1 Clean Laundry
    Saint Cloud, FL

  • 24.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-15-2018 11:26
    Three stores, two full time attended card stores, open 7am to 10PM.  The third is an unattended 24 hour mat, which is deliberately less high tech and also has older equipment (Gen 6 wasco).

    Of these, the 24 hour grosses far less, but to be fair, it is a smaller store literally side with a card store next to it.  However, it does over twice as much business as the card store next to it (water bills are publicly available here).   It takes far less effort to run, in fact I haven't been to that store in over 2 months  (actually, I think I've only been there about 4 times in the past 6 months).  I take a look at the cameras every so often at night and have the police come and run off the occasional homeless guy.

    The point is that you have few to no employee issues, no closing issues, and the customers self resolve most problems.   I have somebody cleaning daily and another person who handles repairs and collections.   The biggest problems are the coin machines going down (always have at least 2 well stocked with quarters), and the occasional flood when something breaks.  We handle refunds by mail and if somebody calls really upset, we'll send them to another of our stores and take care of them.

    Not every store solution has to be attended, high tech, clean as a whistle.  There are some customers who simply want a decent product, available when they want it, and to otherwise be left alone.  However, I do think every store needs to have good looking, good working, fully functional equipment in a decent environment.   I see lots of ratty run down stores with half the machines out when I visit other stores around the country and wonder why anyone uses them.


    Charlie Smith
    Charlottesville, VA

  • 25.  RE: last wash

    Posted 02-15-2018 11:59
    Interesting discussion & points to consider.

     Twice in a few months seems very strange but if it works why not.  Seems to me that leaves too many things @ risk.

    Key Interesting observations / takeaways are.

     Your unattended coin store does more business than the card store that is nearby.

     If you only visit your mat on rare occasions, imagine what a competing 24 unattended location with consistent oversight & better condition than yours would do?  Not saying someone would or should do that but the key point to consider is that those types of attention to detail is what'll make or break a mat whether existing or new.

     My experience tells me that customers, at least my customers want more than just a decent location & equipment.  We give our guests the best that we can provide.  Almost new looking and functioning equipment regardless of the equipments age. A bright, clean, & safe location, excellent customer service, etc..

     And again our & customer traffic flow.proves it's working. .

    Store Owner/ Employee
    Cocoa FL