NEW ORLEANS — In one of the final educational sessions of Clean ’09, Bob Eisenberg, president of Qualclean Equipment, Blue Bell, Pa., and Michael Sokolowski, executive vice president of the Coin Laundry Association (CLA), discussed the basics of coin-op investment and operation for first-timers and owners thinking of adding new locations.
In the session, Evaluating An Investment in Coin Laundry, Eisenberg reminded attendees of a few basic facts and definitions regarding the industry: There are approximately 35,000 stores in the United States with a combined annual sales volume of more than $5 billion, and the industry continues to grow after 60 years.
According to Eisenberg, self-service laundries provide a basic necessity in a recession-resistant business, and the industry is an easy one to operate in comparison to other small-business endeavors, plus there’s good cash flow and return on investment with very little inventory.
There have been several shifts in demographics lately that provide additional opportunities for today’s coin-laundry investors, Eisenberg added. The down economy creates more “working poor,” who are traditionally coin laundry customers, for example.
Eisenberg also walked session attendees through the basics of starting up a new self-service laundry, with tips for opening the store and initial setup. He stressed the importance of due diligence and working with a reputable distributor.
Sokolowski did a quick comparison between building a new store and buying an existing store, pointing out the pros and cons of each. Ultimately, he said, the decision comes down to the buyer’s financial resources and the availability of desirable locations and stores. He urged potential laundry owners to be patient and willing to wait for the right opportunity.
Sokolowski also went through the day-to-day operations of a laundry owner for those new to the industry. He discussed everything from collecting procedures, administrative tasks, security issues, employees, maintenance, vending and inventory, customer service, and safety.