Brian Wallace is the long-time President and CEO of the Coin Laundry Association. He has been an advocate for the industry for nearly 30 years. He has networked with hundreds, if not thousands, of laundromat owners, traveled all over the country visiting owners and laundromats, and facilitated research on the industry to help owners better their businesses.

Brian joins us on the podcast to share what he has learned about this industry, about what it takes to be a great owner and operator, and to talk about the trajectory of the laundromat industry.

In this show, Brian and I discuss:

  • Brian’s background and how he got his position as the President and CEO of the Coin Laundry Association
  • What he has done to advocate for the laundromat industry
  • What the trajectory of the industry is
  • How technology is shaping this industry
  • Passive laundromat ownership 
  • Laundromat management companies
  • The fragmented nature of the laundromat industry
  • Tips on running a great business
  • Attendant training
  • Laundromat Marketing
  • Coin Laundry Association research
  • Networking in the laundromat industry
  • Lease negotiations
  • CLA resources
  • The Laundry Cares Foundation

And way, way more! 

Listen To The Podcast Here

Watch The Podcast Here

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Brian's Bio

A leader in the industry for more than 28 years, Coin Laundry Association’s
President/CEO Brian Wallace is a popular presenter, author and advocate for laundromat owners in the U.S. and around the world. He has led more than 750 educational seminars and penned numerous articles on all things related to laundromat management.


Brian is also a passionate supporter of the LaundryCares Foundation and serves as its Executive Director. Among the LaundryCares Foundation programs are its series of Free Laundry & Literacy Days in under-resourced neighborhoods and its founding role in Laundry Literacy Coalition – an initiative to promote early childhood literacy through
America’s laundromats.

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Episode Transcript

hey what’s up guys it’s jordan with the
laundromat resource podcast
show number 52 and i am pumped
that you are here wait are there 52
weeks
in a year i mean we haven’t been going
quite a year yet but man 52 weeks a year
is that right i think that’s right man
that’s a big deal but i launched with
three so
we got two more to go for a full year
but that’s right i started in may
exciting stuff coming up oh my goodness
well hey
happy episode 52 i am pumped that you
are here today
not only because this is episode 52
which seems like a big deal to me for
some reason
but also we have brian wallace the
president and ceo
of the coin laundry association joins us
on the podcast today and we talk
laundromats it’s
really really interesting stuff that we
talk about today i know you’re gonna
love it and i know you’re gonna get a
lot
out of it so i cannot wait for you to
hear about that but before we get there
real quick i just want to say man
there’s been a ton of stuff going on
uh with laundromat resource lately both
behind the scenes and also in front of
the scenes
is that like a thing in front of the
scenes
but just a couple of quick things first
of all i want to just get back on that
brainwashing
uh train that i’ve been on uh for
a lot of episodes now but get over to
the forums ask a question answer a
question
there’s a lot of really awesome
conversations happening
in those forums over there in the
laundromat forum in the commercial real
estate forum
in the repairs forum and also in the new
member introductions forum
again i just want to highlight i mean
first of all welcome to all the new
members
we got a bunch over this last week a
couple i just wanted to say welcome to
is frank and jignesh i hope i’m saying
that right
but uh welcome to you guys i know you
introduce yourselves over on the
introduction forum
one of the cool things happening over
there on the introductions forum is that
people
are starting to find each other in
similar areas
and that’s just like by far one of the
coolest things that i’ve been seeing so
you know if you’re looking to connect
with other laundromat owners or
other people interested in buying a
laundromat make sure you check out that
uh new member introduction forum and see
if there’s anybody who’s popped up in
your area
or if not maybe introduce yourself and
let people know where you’re
you know where you lay your head down
where you’re from where you’re from is
probably an easier way to say that
let people know where you’re from and uh
hey try to connect over there with
people in your area
super super cool makes me so jazzed that
that’s happening over there
um also a lot of really great
conversations happening so go jump in
on those one that was really interesting
uh i think popped up this week maybe it
was last week and i think it was this
week
um was how to value a laundromat that’s
not making any money
and i thought that was a really
intriguing topic
and i bet there’s going to be a lot of
different opinions on that so
go join that conversation some of the
others go ask a question
answer a question if you’re listening to
this
like right when it’s coming out this
comes out every tuesday in case you
didn’t know if if you’re listening on
tuesday
what is it uh april 20th
uh or maybe early on wednesday the 21st
make sure that you join myself and dave
laundromat millionaire men’s we have a
live
q a going on we do one every single
month so even if you’re listening to
this
after the fact head over to
my youtube channel dave’s laundromat
millionaire’s youtube channel
and uh subscribe so that you know when
these are coming up but i’ll also put a
link
in the show notes which will be at
laundromat resource.com
show 52 show five two um
and if you’re on youtube i’ll also put
it down in the description down below
so you can click on that make sure that
you hit that notification bell so you
can join us for the live q a
uh either here in april in 2021 or in
our future ones because we do win every
month
um and then also just a quick little
reminder that i do
a free live webinar every thursday you
can sign up at laundrymyresource.com
there’s a forum
right at the top that you can sign up in
okay that was just a whole bunch of
stuff i threw at you but i just want to
let you know there’s a lot of cool stuff
happening
all this stuff is geared towards helping
you find financial freedom through
laundromat ownership so
make sure you’re jumping in and being a
part of what is going
on and there’s more coming super excited
about all that
but without further ado let’s just jump
into it with brian wallace the president
and ceo of the coin laundry association
i know you’re gonna love it
all right brian thank you so much for
coming on the show how are you doing
today
hey jordan everything’s great here in
the chicago area
it’s a little bit of a rainy day but uh
we can always brighten it up with some
laundry talk
that’s right that’s right nothing says
sunshine and warmth like
laundry talk maybe we should talk about
dryers to kind of just warm things up a
little better
i don’t know but uh i love that uh i am
actually a this is a little known fact
is i am a
long long time chicago bears fan
um i think i jumped on the bandwagon way
back 85-86 when they won the
super bowl and have pretty much
regretted it ever since because i have
not won anything since then
but you and me you and me both uh you
know and
uh you know one of my brothers has
season tickets so we’ve definitely uh
had uh some good times uh over there uh
tailgating and enjoying the games uh
not often in a winning uh capacity but
uh it’s uh nice to get out there on the
on the lakefront and
enjoy some football so uh i’m a
long-suffering fan too so we’ll just
keep uh we’ll keep at it
i’m a cubs fan too we finally got that
world series in 2016 so uh
anything can happen yeah that was a big
one for you guys
i’m a dodger fan so i can’t you know i
can’t sympathize with you there but
we’ll stick with the bears and and have
some solidarity there
no doubt well hey i thought it would be
awesome to just
start this off by taking us way back in
your life and
and i mean i kind of want to hear the
path and how you got to where you’re at
now
because you know obviously we’re in kind
of a little bit of a niche
industry here it’s a little bit random
whenever i tell people
you know that i own laundromats you know
people are always like what that’s
so weird that’s so random right and so
people don’t think this industry when
they think of
business so i’m just i’m curious can you
take us back and and maybe
we’ve uh we have a story for us about
how you ended up where you are
sure yeah i’ll be happy to it’s uh uh
it’s
you know i wasn’t a young boy dreaming
of someday being in the laundromat
business
i know we have some of those folks out
there mostly the the second and third
generation
uh owner operators but for me i was just
looking for a gig you know i i
got my degree in uh corporate uh
organizational communications and
uh came out of school and looking for
that first opportunity in business and
uh you know where i’m standing here
today cla’s headquarters
is about i don’t know 10 miles from
where i grew up and
when i started to look for work i had
heard a lot about
you know sort of trade associations and
nonprofits
especially in the context of meeting uh
communications professionals marketing
professionals and that sort of thing so
it was always sort of in the back of my
mind that
uh you know association might be a good
place to land with my first job but
uh sure enough i saw that’s how old i am
jordan i saw an ad in the paper
uh and responded to yeah
you know so i i started my gig here
really is my first job out of school
as uh at that time they called the
communications
specialist and had a chance to be
mentored by
a cla’s communications director at the
time a guy named dick torp who’s an old
school like newspaper man like
a northwestern university grad and was
you know so
one of those guys you could picture with
a fedora in the little press pass
in the brim of his hat and uh learned a
lot from him uh
about uh writing and communicating with
folks and that was sort of the beginning
of my laundry education
uh it’s really to take that job here and
that was almost 29 years ago
29 years next month and as i got into it
i started write for
our magazine which at that time was the
journal of coin laundry and dry cleaning
is now you guys know is planet laundry
uh wrote press releases just got engaged
in some of the work that we did here
as a trade association started to meet
mentors in the business from a laundry
education standpoint
kind of transitioned into director
communications
and then i had an opportunity to get
into
some of the management aspects i was
sort of the deputy executive director
for
a couple of years and around
i guess would be 1999 our
executive director uh at that time john
vasileides who’s a great mentor to mine
and just spoke with him
uh just in the last week or so uh jordan
he’s a
lifelong laundromat business broker he’s
probably bought and sold more
laundromats than any person alive wow
um and and he was um you know he was
moving on and
uh the board of directors here gave me a
great opportunity as a younger guy i
think it was 29 years old to
take the role as president and ceo and
so i’ve had
you know no direct experience running a
laundromat but
uh you add up the 29 years and uh
you know two and a half million miles on
american airlines and
uh trips all across the country and
around the world
not just talking about laundromats and
best practices but more importantly
listening
you know visiting stores hearing from
people that have been successful
so i kind of see my job in part with the
association is try to synthesize
all that information those relationships
what i’ve learned and
put us in a position through the
association to share that with all of
you
uh to help the industry do more and get
better so i’ve had an incredible
opportunity
over this time and so it’s not a
terribly exciting story but
i started at the ground level and uh now
going into my
21st year as president ceo
started from the bottom now you’re here
i like it
right at the top right at the pinnacle
uh
well what was it i mean i’m curious what
was it like as a 29 year old to
move into that role as president ceo
of a pretty big association i mean that
it seems like that’d be a little bit
scary but what was it like for you
[Music]
huh well look yeah as you’ve probably
found out in your
business life you know new opportunities
can sometimes be scary and so you have
equal
mixes of excitement and dread uh
you might have that impostor syndrome
creep into your mind
but for me it was just really just a
great opportunity and i
remain incredibly grateful to our
volunteer leadership that
really gave me an opportunity that maybe
i didn’t qualify for
at that time as a practical matter as a
manager
i had a staff of
eight nine ten additional people at the
time all of whom were older than me
uh i think nine out of ten were women uh
and so i had to you know really
try to accelerate my management skills
and my you know
ability to relate with uh employees and
uh you really do that in such a way that
i could hopefully
gain their confidence gain their respect
because i’m sure they may have been
looking at this like well this guy
becomes president
um he was the one who was sitting in the
worst desk over by the water cooler not
too long ago
and now he’s uh now he’s got the um you
know the executive office but
the team here was great the the
volunteers
were so supportive uh not only with the
laundromat
education but with uh just how to do
business
i’ve told people many times i don’t have
that mba after my name
but i kind of consider my mba
working with a board of directors of
18 to 20 laundry industry professionals
for 20-plus years and really the time i
spent
on the clean executive committee uh is
really been my
sort of informal mba education learning
from folks about
how to do business how not to do
business and i hopefully have been able
to
pull the best of that together over a
period of time yeah i think that’s an
awesome way to learn
how to do business from you know the
people who are doing it with people who
have been doing it and
you know that’s one of the big reasons i
started the podcast you know honestly is
talking to people like you and and a lot
of these other guests that i’ve had who
you know have had their huge successes
and their big failures and
you know are willing to share those and
and teach me and teach everybody else
listening
uh just you know some of the lessons
that they’ve they’ve learned along the
way and i think that’s a really great
way to learn business
uh so you know school of hard knocks a
little bit of
you know of business ownership uh that
so many
of us have gone through and and so
learning from
that is is a great way i think to
shortcut
some of those lessons so you don’t have
to learn the hard ones or at least not
all over
yourself well believe me if you’ve made
a mistake
by that time you hopefully have a friend
or a mentor
who’s made the same mistake or recovered
from the same mistake
and so you’ve got some relationships to
rely on and
uh so believe me there are times where i
i feel like i’ve missed
some of that so-called book learning you
know uh you know
in in this case maybe an mba track or
something like that but
i hope to make up for it with the
relationships and the real world
experience and being able to
uh you know pull together uh the best
possible solutions when we do run into
challenges
yeah yeah well i’m curious i mean you’ve
you’ve been in this role for a really
long time what are some of the big
challenges i mean you’ve seen a lot
you know the industry has gone through a
lot i’m sure you’ve gone through a lot
from being 29 running a
uh an organization like this you know up
until now
what have been some of the challenges
you know for you personally and or maybe
for the industry
over the you know the last 20 or so
years
well you’re right jordan i mean it’s
changed a lot this industry has changed
a lot since
1992 i guess if i’m doing my math right
uh when when i first got
introduced to it um you know certainly
there’s aspects that remain the same but
there’s certainly been a lot of growth
and i’d like to think the organization
has had a lot to do with the sort of
what i’ll say professionalizing of the
industry
um and we’re seeing that only accelerate
uh here recently with technology and
with
uh newer ideas new people getting into
the business different calibers of
folks with different backgrounds and i
think it’s all uh works together to to
bring the industry to the
to the next level i think when you’re
running a small nonprofit
uh dollars and cents are always on your
mind uh
you know level participation is always
on your mind
uh being able to work effectively with
an ever-changing group
of uh very independent-minded volunteers
uh you can imagine is is sometimes
challenging but i’d say that you know
the last couple years i think some of
the main challenges have been
you know just making sure that our
organization can continue to
evolve uh to sort of match
what’s happening in the industry and
still remain relevant
and remain a valuable resource to people
in the industry
uh you know uh in the sort of the trade
association world certainly 30 years ago
is very much a top-down scenario okay
well you’re the
uh you’re the industry authority uh it’s
very deferential
you know that’s where you get the
information and as evidenced by your
podcast and a lot of things going on
today you know information is more
dispersed and has more resources and
there’s more places from which that
comes from and again i think overall
that uh you know results in better
educated folks
in our industry but it also poses
challenges for how do we best
uh continue to do what we do here and um
sometimes with the trade association
some of the benefits
can be somewhat less tangible uh than
than a specific product or service and
so that’s another
uh good challenge is to help people
better understand
uh the role that we play and what we can
do working together to make this a
better industry you know that’s the end
goal
how do we make this a better more
profitable industry that takes better
care
of the tens of millions of families that
come to the laundromat
every weekend yeah i love that and yeah
i think you’re right like there’s been
so many changes in
the industry uh you know from
you know i mean shoot man since 92
the world has gone through a lot you
know we’ve we went through
you know 9 11 we went through the 2008
economic crisis obviously this last year
has been
again unprecedented and has shaken
everybody up
you know even even our industry uh you
know maybe not as bad as
some other industries but you know we’ve
all felt
that i’m sure you guys even as an
association have felt the effects of
that because pretty much everybody’s
been touched right
um so yeah yeah i mean people talk about
our industry being uh
recession proof i’ve always said well
we’re recession resistant
this is a little nuance yeah and the
term had a big difference yeah yeah and
you know i’ve been through those
economic cycles over that period of time
and it has been a very resilient
uh business uh not necessarily easy but
resilient
uh in the last year or so i you know
what i told our team here
uh when covet arrived was if we don’t
step up now
to support our members and to support
our industry when are we going to do
that
right this this is when the need is
arguably the greatest that we’ve had at
least in my 30 years and maybe in now
the 60-year history
of the organization you know so we had
to
step up and provide that help regardless
of
maybe cash flow slowing down or people
not being able to pay their dues right
away or
maybe somebody had some magazine ad
contracts uh that may have been canceled
but
we said look we have to deliver for the
industry
and um i think that the work that we are
able to do from an advocacy perspective
uh to maintain that essential status
state by state by state by state uh and
then
ultimately being able to be added to the
federal guidance for essential which we
were not on that list
we were not on that list it was very
expensive and very difficult to
get our names added to that federal
guidance and
in retrospect now looking back a year
later jordan
it’s not hyperbole to say that that
saved this industry
a billion dollars or more hey if we’re a
four or five billion dollar a year
industry
and we’re able to keep the doors open
for that two
three four five months that so many
businesses were in complete lockdown
i’d like to think that you know
collectively with us working together
and have an organization in place
uh was able to uh retain that revenue
keep doors open
and keep this industry firing off and
and we’ve always known that we were an
essential business
there’s a little bit more kind of
esoteric over time like well we’re
you know we’re um important or you know
and i’ve always
talked to legislators about us providing
a basic public health service but
this brought it into very sharp focus
and made it uh
really a opportunity to double down on
the value that all of you bring to your
customers and bring to the communities
uh clean clothes hygiene that dignity
and respect that comes from
being able to have clean clothes and in
the pandemic
uh it was probably the greatest
challenge we’ve had
as an industry and i’m just incredibly
proud
as to how well all of you responded how
well you
adjusted and modified operations and
stuck to it because it would have been
easy to curl up in a ball and say well
we’ll just wait till this is over
but our industry really stood up and
stood out
as a result and i think that that is
some momentum that’s going to carry us a
long way
into the future yeah yeah i think yeah
i think that’s a great uh a great way to
put it and i think a lot of people did
really
step up and we’re you know we’re able to
adapt um and you know i talked i’m sure
you talked to a lot of owners too i
talked to a lot of owners and
you know people were hurting for
especially early on there
uh you know people were hurting you know
and not really knowing
nobody really knew what was going to
happen not just with our industry but
with our world right
and it was a little bit of a scary time
but i do feel like
laundromats were you know they were
one of the businesses that mostly
remained open the whole time
but they also just became i at least i
what from what i saw they became
uh they became places of refuge almost
for
people in the community because
everybody was holed up in their houses
right and
laundromats were a place where they
could come
and proactively do something
to better their situation right
and i think even just the mental uh
mental boost that that gave people
during that time just from customers i
talked to
and other owners that i’ve talked to i
think was a big deal so
well i’ve always felt that you know we
are a neighborhood business
and um i i like to say that
you know the neighborhood laundromat is
a mirror held up to the community
right if you want to get a feel for that
neighborhood you want to get a feel for
that community
pop into the laundromat that’s where
you’re going to see the people that’s
where you’re going to see
the vibe and get a sense of what that
neighborhood is all about and so i think
as you’re pointing out jordan that sort
of community
uh around this mundane shore let’s face
it no one’s looking forward to do
laundry
but that’s part of this elevation of the
industry if we can make it nicer if we
can
make it more convenient if we can bring
people more
support through that corner laundromat
it really does
raise up those families in the
neighborhoods that need that help the
most
yeah yeah i agree well okay so you’ve
seen a lot of change
over the last 20 or so years out of
curiosity
i mean you like you said you talked to a
lot of owners you’ve
you’ve been all over you put a lot of
miles you know on your
mileage card i don’t know you’ve put a
lot of miles behind you and
you’ve traveled a lot what about looking
forward what do you
where do you see our industry heading
what
kind of what’s coming up on the horizon
that i mean i don’t you may not know but
you know i know you don’t have a crystal
ball but out of curiosity i’m just
curious
what you’re seeing well you know we’re
all experts in our own opinions but
i do think there’s some things that we
can look at going forward that
um i think are you know fairly concrete
if you look at the prevailing trends
before kovid
uptick major uptick in technology if you
look at the
greater sophistication in in the
marketing if you look at payment systems
if you look at
uh full service and wash dry fold in
commercial accounts
if you look at multi-store ownership if
you look at
sort of new dollars uh more than mom and
pop investors but
you know some bigger dollars expressing
an interest in the business
those existing prevailing trends have
just hit warp speed
in my observation so those are things
that have
just taken off and maybe progress
uh that would have taken another three
four five years to come to fruition
it’s happening now right so we are
seeing this this boost and
yeah i think a lot of it is underpinned
uh by technology advancements
and when i look at you know uh
high tech and laundromat some people
laugh that off that’s an oxymoron right
this is an analog old school business
you know
uh but if you look at uh what’s happened
with equipment
in terms of efficiency um we talk about
a major difference
you know from when i started almost 30
years ago we’re using
half or less the utilities
and if you look at uh payment systems
hybrid systems other things are letting
people pay
and in other ways uh you know that has
certainly driven
a big part of our growth the larger
capacity equipment has definitely driven
our growth and i think that the the
technology
in terms of being able to uh manage
remotely
and collect data i think that’s blown
open the doors to multiple store
management
and you know very well you know there’s
sort of a limit to how much you can
operate
uh you for yourself by yourself in terms
of locations
but as this technology comes on board i
think it’s going to be
more commonplace to see five stores 10
stores 20 stores i still don’t see
a big roll-up you know a thousand two
thousand five thousand locations but i
certainly see
the what i’ve always called
consolidation from within
you know it’s jordan adding the second
to third the fourth location
and you start to multiply that across
the country
and uh we’re seeing that uh multi
multiple store management and part of
what i love about that
is that you know let’s face it if you’re
in it for five or ten stores
you’re probably running a better
operation right because you have to
right so it’s clean safe well-equipped
taking better care of customers so as
that propagates
and aggregates in terms of the eyes of
the consumer i think we just have an
opportunity to bring more people
in to use laundromats than ever before
so i have a very
optimistic view of the future and a lot
of that is
underpinned by the technological
advancements that i think are going to
help us do the job even better
yeah yeah yeah i’m seeing a lot of the
same
the same things i’m curious do you think
do you think we’re we’re coming towards
an end of the single store
owner do you see it going that far or do
you think that there will always be
single store owners
they’ll just be more multi-store owners
and those multi-store owners might have
more businesses yeah i think it’s more
of the latter
um you know this i mean
i can’t think of another industry that’s
as fragmented as our business
right so even with all that we just
talked about
if we think there are still about twenty
nine thousand
twenty nine five out there um
you know we can count the number of
people with a with
80 or more stores on one hand
right the number of people with 100 or
more stores
perhaps on one finger so when you
it’s all relative right so yes there is
a lot more multiple store ownership and
the number of tens and twenties and
thirties is definitely way up
but still i mean that’s a just a
minuscule amount of consolidation given
the total number of units uh that are
out there so
i do think that there will always be a
role for them
for the single store owner if anything
just for the fact that most everyone
starts with one
right there there are some exceptions
you know i
you know more often seeing people that
maybe jump in with
two or three acquisitions but more often
it’s a progression right you’ve lived it
you get the first store and you kind of
get your feet wet and take a few dents
and
things and you kind of learn some things
and you get store two and store three
and i just think that that
will always be a part of the
um uh evolution of people uh growing
into the business
going from part-time you know you know
the story working the day job working
the career job with the one store
working the nights and weekends and
really pushing and then getting to a
certain
uh tipping point where that becomes your
full-time gig because you’ve got
multiple locations you can replace that
corporate salary you know that origin
story
uh much more interesting than the origin
story i gave you for me
uh is is really how these uh you know
great members of ours have
really planted the flag uh taking good
great care of customers and are starting
to build wealth for themselves
yeah yeah i i like that i
and i see that too uh out of curiosity
and i mean you may not know the answer
to this one either i just
i’m gonna throw it out there but you
know i think
for a long time our industry has
has had people interested in it who
you know have the concept of you know i
come in once a week collect quarters
that’s it um and you know you know as
well as i know that
pretty much never is that the case right
there’s more because
whenever i tell people whenever there’s
you know a business and whenever there’s
people involved
it’s going to take a little bit more
than that right
and there’s machines that break down
there’s all kinds of stuff that can go
wrong you’ll have to deal with
right but i’m curious
if you think that that message is
changing if that
is that that mentality is going away if
that’s still going to be
possible for people to kind of get into
the industry that way maybe like a
guy i talk to a lot of like high income
earners who are looking to put their
money
somewhere like doctors lawyers engineers
who want to put their money
into something and they’re interested in
laundromats i just talked to a
plastic surgeon in hollywood who wants
to who wants to do this right
and uh and i i think the concept
of it being mostly hands off is what’s
appealing to them
um and the high returns that you can get
obviously um
but i’m curious as to is that going to
be feasible for people
going forward or if maybe specifically
for that high income earner
uh demographic yeah well as you well
know we’ve had a lot of those high
income earners have been in the business
a long time
right and they uh either are hands-on
with the laundromat business or they
hire someone to help them
uh in that in that respect so you can
imagine from where i sit
you know i’ve always outright rejected
uh the word absentee
the word passive um i just don’t
see any evidence of that i haven’t seen
any evidence of that
now is it a simple business simple not
be
not meaning easy but simple in other
words the keys
the operation or a parent they’re
self-evident you know what you need to
do
but as you point out you still need to
put in the time and the energy to to
execute on that
you know so so the simplicity as opposed
to complexity
of you know 100 employees or you know
lots of reliance on receivables and
stocking inventory and you know from
that perspective yes it’s a simple
business but not always easy to execute
on so
i think you can have spend less time at
the laundromat than you might if you’re
running a subway or
or some other kind of small business
opportunity
um i also think uh when i talked to our
members over the years
and when i probe about well what you
know has you so excited about the
business again beyond the returns
because you know that the money is is
always number one but
i hear a lot of flex time
you know you have to put in the hours
jordan you’ve got kids taking school at
home
you’ve got other uh pressures on you got
things to do
so you can attend to the laundromats it
doesn’t have to be at a prescribed day
and time
right you can work in those hours over
the course of your week
and again what i hear from our folks is
i got to coach little league
i got to take my daughter on the dance
uh competition tour i got to do those
things
i worked my butt off at the laundromat
but i could
make those adjustments and have that
sort of quality of lifestyle by being
able to uh take advantage of the
laundromat industry so
so it’s i don’t think it’s absentee i’ll
tell you just a quick anecdote jordan
this is several years ago um
i got an invitation it was from one of
these organizations that puts on these
hype
conferences you know these passive
income massive passive
you know make money sitting at home and
multi-level marketing all this stuff and
i just out of curiosity
and i later learned out of defense i
accepted the invitation
and i went to actually did it twice i
went to these
uh conferences where it was just it was
a hype job you know it was
it was just hey you’re gonna make money
you know show up once a week to collect
the quarters
so i took that speaking gig to defend
the fact that yes this is a great
business but you know here’s the reality
and if you do these things you can be
successful uh but it’s not sitting at
home
and collecting the quarters once a week
let’s kill you are
i was a total buzzkill this is one of
those things with the lights and the
music
and the the guy in the white suit and um
hyping up all these different
opportunities and i was the wet blanket
because i thought i had to
to uh protect these folks yeah from you
know having that
misperception now they only invited me
back twice i didn’t get that third
invitation
uh because i wasn’t there to sell
anything right this was a big you know
kind of go to the back of the room and
buy the dvds kind of thing but
my point of bringing that up is i think
that we do a service to people
by telling them yes this is a great
business but
here’s what you need to know right there
are challenges you do have
to do that uh but back to this
technology thing
and with the high net worth investor i
think that
the networked washers the ability to
remotely manage the store
being able to have confidence in the
cash control right that’s always been
the main leash that holds
laundromat owners to the store
rightfully is
the cash right so so if you have the
ability to monitor equipment monitor
employees have safety know exactly
what’s in the vtm know exactly what’s in
the changers
yes i do think that people can
you know reduce the number of hours that
they’re spending particularly over the
course of multiple stores
and you know really achieve those
investment goals
a side card to that is i think that
there’s going to be a a burgeoning
opportunity
for professional laundromat management
companies
uh that can put out their shingle and
say yes
you know plastic surgeon um we’ll help
you get into these couple of laundromats
and here’s a program by which we can
help you actually manage the day-to-day
clear the coin jams get make sure the
attendants are showing up making sure
the store is clean and
from that perspective so maybe that
investor’s return is a little bit less
but it still is a pretty gaudy routine
or return
on the cash invested and particularly on
the time invested even if they’ve got to
pay that extra layer
of supervision and management in order
to run the store on a day-to-day basis
yeah yeah i love that i’m actually in
the process of putting together a
management company here
in la with a couple former guests
actually were
because you know between us we have you
know i think
nine or ten laundromats and you know
there’s other people who we know
who want to take a little bit more of a
passive
approach to it or just don’t have as
much time so
yeah i think you’re right about that and
especially as
people start scaling out the number of
their laundromats
it’s going to be way easier to hire
almost like a hotel management company
right like
you get a couple of hotels you hire a
hotel management company to manage your
hotels
and that frees up your time because time
is the ultimate look at our friends and
competitors in the laundry route
business the apartment laundry route
business you’ve got
uh companies that you have uh
you know million million and a half
washers under management
uh half a million um hundreds of
thousands tens of thousands
so it’s not exactly the same thing of
course but
that mentality of being able to manage
those locations
uh you know not exactly treating them
like route stops but
maybe an amped up version of that i do
think that that will be in demand
like you said not just the person who
gets stretched too thin when they hit
that fifth or sixth laundromat
as an individual but people that want to
have a stake
they want to have an investment in our
sector
but don’t have the wherewithal to sit at
the counter every day
and and manage the store uh 40 hours
a week yeah yeah yeah and i think that
that is one of the ways that i mean it’s
been
the industry i think it’s been shifting
away from that but i think
you know when i think about laundromat
owners from
30 40 plus years ago i think a lot of
them sat behind the counters at their
laundromat that was their
their job right it was like a true mom
and pop
store where they that’s just what they
did like
and a lot of owners did that way and i
think less and less so that that’s the
case
from just my observation i haven’t done
any research on that but that would be
yeah
i think that’s a i think that’s a fair
fair assessment
um you know and again it’s such a varied
industry we don’t
you look you and i both know people that
love being in the store yeah
uh you know dust till dawn uh and then
dawn till dusk again and they love to
chitchat with customers and they like to
tinker and fix machines and that’s their
that’s their jam they love it
yeah um and you know just a different
a different approach from someone who
says well look i’m looking at this more
from an investment perspective
i’ve got cash to invest i’m looking for
the best roi
so i’m going to spend the time that i
need to spend there but then i’m going
to get help
i’m not going to turn a wrench i’ve
been telling people for years you know
the you can sum up some of this trend
and less time turning a screwdriver and
more time
turning a profit right the kind of that
mentality of
you know you know let’s let’s scale you
know let’s do multiple locations
and let’s know how to do those jobs but
better yet
knowing how to find people that can help
you do those jobs you can build
yeah yeah it’s been one of the most
i guess encouraging and surprising
things about doing this podcast is
talking to people all over
the world who own laundromats and
seeing the diverse the diversity and the
ways that they run
their laundromats right we had uh you
know jacob on the
podcast he runs a youtube channel there
i fixed it he loves to be hands-on
he you know is you know he’s in his map
and and just loves that um and then you
know
show 50 we i just interviewed a guy who
he’s never seen his laundromat he lives
he just moved into his rv and he’s
traveling the country
um from here in california and his
laundromats just outside of atlanta and
he’s never seen it right
and those are way different style and
and everything in between
uh you know so the diversity of it is
pretty cool that you can run and
run successfully in whatever you think
successfully looks like
with this industry and so that
flexibility is really nice
that really made me think going back
this i meant to say this earlier but i
really like that you
use the term flex time as opposed to
absentee or passive i think that needs
to get incorporated
into our vocabulary
more as the flex time because i think
that really does nail
for example uh just today like i have a
pretty
busy day today right we jumped on this
call at eight in the morning
i’ve got stuff going on with the kids
later we had a little neighborhood
uh like socially distance birthday
outdoor party
for a neighbor a little bit later so we
got like a lot going on today so i just
got up at four in the morning and i went
out
to my laundromat did my stuff that i
needed to take care of
made it back here in time to walk my
kids to school and then jump on a call
with you and
i can do that right i don’t have to be
there at a specific day or specific
time and um yeah getting up at four in
the morning to go to the laundromats not
ideal always but i can do it if i
if i have other things that i want to do
so yeah flex time
let’s keep that term going because i
like that
that’s yeah it’s it’s the truth and i
can remember we even did a membership
campaign years ago where we were
you know kind of featuring our members
but they weren’t you know the
stock photos of the person leaning on
the washing machine
it was um you know people that were out
fixing go-karts and people that were
taking kids to little league and people
that were
had their feet up at the beach and just
trying to emphasize that our industry
it’s a means to an end no one’s here for
the love of doing laundry right well
maybe there’s a few
couple people uh people people that are
obsessed but but it is a
pathway um when i do see those old
old-timers jordan you know one of the
things i
i hear a lot is you know just a little
longer but you know what i put two kids
through college
you know just a little laundromat but it
helped us um
you know navigate a family of six and
uh and we i don’t know what we would
have done if not for the laundromat
or it gave us the chance to travel or we
got a a
cottage uh you know summer cottage or
you know these
you know so in other words it wasn’t
about the glam and glory
of running the laundromat it was the
opportunity to work hard make an
investment make a great return
and then use that as the launching pad
to
pursue your real passions and the things
that you want to do for yourself and
your family
yeah i love that and you know the the
concept of lifestyle design
is really popular right now and i think
when a lot of people think of lifestyle
design they’re thinking like tim ferriss
like go live
somewhere else and you know
dance your days away and sit on the
beach or whatever that
you know the case might be right but
lifestyle design is designing a life
that you want to live right and so if
that’s fix and go cars with your kids
that’s coaching your kids little league
team right and that and
in in that sense i think that
laundromats can be a great lifestyle
design business um and
you know and this guy who you know tom
in episode 50 who’s traveling
the country in his rv you know while
owning a laundromat that he’s never seen
across the country
is a next level of that lifestyle design
it doesn’t have to be that extreme
but that flex time gives you the ability
to design
life the way that you like it and i like
i like thinking of it that way flex time
i’m going to use that more often i like
it all right you got it use it
use it use it use it yes um well okay
so i mean we’re talking about all this
stuff right so
what maybe i mean you’ve talked to a lot
of owners and you’ve been in this
industry
longer than most people have so
what i mean can you give us some some
like
tips on how do you how do you build a
good business
how do what you know and then once you
have a good business how do you grow it
you know
uh because i think you know i’ve i
talked to a lot of owners who
especially this last year have been
struggling right their
their income has been down or you know
they don’t have money to reinvest in
their laundry matter whatever the case
may be and they might be listening to
something like this well that’s not what
my life looks like right i’m
trying to like duct tape my laundry mat
back together
or whatever the case may be so i’m
wondering if you could give us
you know just maybe what are some tips
of being um
you know running a a solid laundromat
uh business and you know and growing
that into
something that can help you design your
life
the way you want it sure sure well you
know
that’s one of the things that probably
hasn’t changed a whole lot over the last
30 years
is you know some of these basic
underlying principles and you had kind
of previewed this question for me and
i’ll just tell you
just the first couple things i scratched
out um
in no particular order about you know
kind of recipes for success
um we’ve had a great webinar we filmed
right here yesterday
on uh creating an attendant training
program and we had a couple of our peers
ken barrett
and yvette morton williams came on and
just talked about how they put their
program together and what it
was just top of mind for me jordan was
just invest
in the attendant training and
that’s dollars and time and it’s not
just
all right welcome to your new job as uh
laundromat attendant
go work a shift with sally she’s my best
attendant you’re gonna work a shift
together and then off you go
uh that’s what i’m seeing among best
practices is having an actual program
having a protocol having
policies and procedures and investing
the time and energy
to have the best possible attendance
because you know we talk a lot about new
investors and people getting into the
business and one of the
uh one of the several things i try to
say to kind of sober uh
you know that that view is look you’re
gonna spend
a couple hundred to several hundred
thousand dollars
and the one person who has the most to
do with your success
is the minimum wage attendant who’s
visiting with customers every single day
yeah right it’s not you you we just
talked about that right you’re not going
to be there all the time yeah
so i think that we need to reapportion
the amount of time and energy we put
into
having the best attendance so that was
top of mind except from just from
yesterday
it’s good that’s good yeah the the the
modern uh
thing that popped on here uh as it
relates to
uh promotion and marketing is there’s a
lot of things you can do
we can help you jordan you can help
customers with with the marketing
but the one thing you need is a perfect
google listing
the google maps google my business if
you’re going to get one thing right
make sure that the people that are
looking for you and they’re looking for
you on their smartphone
that they can find you and it sounds
rudimentary
it sounds like the bar is low but if you
do that
that’s a distinct competitive advantage
in the laundromat business because most
of your competitors are not doing that
how much does that cost free yeah
zero and even if you hire someone to
help you with it you’re not talking big
bucks but we’re talking about a big
return real quick i mean i love that and
as
as somebody who owns a marketing and
website
design company for specifically for
laundromat owners
i would say that having a good solid
google my business listing
that you keep up to date is more
important even than your website because
i would agree most people are going to
go on their phone to their maps app or
or to google and search laundromat near
me when they’re looking for laundromat
and whatever laundromats pop up on that
map or at the top of google there
that is where they’re gonna go first
right and if they come to your store
first you have the opportunity to keep
them as a customer
right and most people aren’t looking for
your website
first and foremost well i mean it’s nice
to have everything nice to have a
holistic
uh campaign and you know we’ve been
offering
uh marketing assistance for 20 or 30
years everything from the old postcards
uh to door hangers and now you know with
our amp
program doing some of the same things
with websites and optimized online
listings
um and it’s just it’s just an absolute
must and you can’t tell me
you know look we’re not too far
a front of when you know laundromats did
zero
marketing it was to build it and they
will come you know and
i think that is really uh a significant
competitive advantage today to have your
act together when it comes to that
simple
uh digital marketing so get it from
jordan get it from us
get it from all you know multiple other
companies out there but just do it
get it done and your business will
benefit yeah agreed
all right sorry to interrupt you but no
i just i thought that
was a great point to google my business
it’s a great point
yeah and just when we’re talking about
let’s talk just a minute about marketing
messaging
is um keep in mind that i
at least i think that we’re selling time
savings inconvenience
and we’re selling clean clothes two
things that rarely come up in the
marketing messaging
in our industry yeah it’s dollar
tuesdays it’s half off of this or free
load or
and we’re not talking about the fact
that we get your clothes cleaner
right and we can get it done faster you
know and
and so when we’re when we’re thinking
about the messaging don’t
revert to selling on price because if
you’re a good laundromat owner
you can’t sell on price because you’re
doing too good of a job
you have well-trained attendants good
equipment a clean environment
and those things conspire to make sure
that you have to get a fair vent price
you know so uh will there be price
shoppers yeah they can stay in their
apartments
and do laundry there they can go to a
crummy laundromat down the street
but if you infuse that into your
marketing that this is a better place to
do the wash
um i think that’s a more powerful
message and
you know over the years we’ve done some
consumer
research uh you know what are laundromat
customers looking for
and i we did it several years ago i kind
of took those
results from that survey and i
synthesized it into kind of a motto and
i’ll try it out on you jordan
laundromat customers want time savings
and convenience
in a clean safe environment that’s close
to home
one more time laundromat customers want
time savings
and convenience in a clean safe
environment
that’s close to home yeah i mean
there’s not really much more to it than
that right like that yeah
yeah and if you have to wonder about
owners they want price they want price
they want price they want price well
that’s kind of what we hear and
yes there are price shoppers but you
know the lion’s share of customers
looking for value
right you know and i think if you’re
going to do the marketing
let’s make sure that that messaging gets
across clean clothes
saving time and taking good care of your
family
yeah yeah and i think that there i see
well i felt this
and i see this all the time in like the
forums and the facebook groups and
everything where
we’re we’re afraid of price like as
owners
generally speaking like we’re afraid of
price people are afraid to raise their
prices
i’ve been afraid to raise my price you
know and it’s a genuine
fear but you know what you’re saying
what we’ve had
so many of the just the top operators
that we’ve had on this podcast
have all said the same thing we don’t
compete on price
we we offer valuable
opportunities for for customers to save
on time
and convenience and we charge for it
like
because it’s a it’s a good valuable
service that we’re providing and
that message has been consistent over
and over and over and i think that we
and i’m and i’m saying we because i’m
speaking to myself too but like we
need to not be afraid of price
and and raising those prices because
our costs keep going up right like you
you mentioned
earlier that the technology has has
you know basically cut our utility
usages
in half over the last 30 years well it’s
a dang good thing because our utility
usage is probably
20 times higher than they were 30 years
ago right like yeah the rate
yeah they’re going through the roof
right and we’re paying those utility
costs
so we cannot be afraid to to charge more
in order to you know keep our business
afloat like if our business closed down
all the people that come to it
aren’t going to they’re going to have to
go further it’s going to be less
convenient and less of a time savings
for them
so do yourselves and your customers and
community a favor and keep your prices
where they need to be
georgia no look you know and again we’re
you know as a trade association we have
to be careful how we talk about price
and in terms of our
tax exempt status and not overstepping
on uh antitrust or anything like that
but we can talk about successful
strategies we can’t talk about hey you
ought to charge x for a 20 pounder
now we have all that data in our annual
survey you know people go on the
facebook groups and elsewhere and wonder
about well what’s the average price of
this like well we have the data
for 25 straight years we can give you
that benchmark
but if we made this list of the 100 best
laundromat owners in the country
and maybe i know 98 of them um
you know there’s not going to be one
person on that list that is the
discounter in their market
[Music]
and a good chunk of them are going to be
a price leader no doubt but
there’ll be zero that are the discounter
in their market yeah
yeah well i mean that’s a good i mean
that’s just good good knowledge to have
and you know i just
speaking to anybody out there who is the
discounter in their neighborhood
like this is not to disparage anybody
but this is to give
insight that the real the real value in
your company is the value that
you provide to your customers not the
price cut
that you give to your customers right
you sell yourself short and you sell
your
your business short if you’re providing
value for your customers
and not charging enough for it right so
that that’s where the focus needs to be
and that’s what i hear consistently over
and over from top operators is focus on
providing value for your customers don’t
focus on being you know the low price
leader
in your neighborhood well sometimes what
some of those stores do jordan is
they’re really good at making a volume
but they’re not good at making a profit
yeah and you know
an educated buyer you know into your
world
in brokerage they don’t care about the
gross
nor should they right all that matters
is the net
and it’s very difficult to maximize that
net
if you’re the low price leader in the
market yeah
yeah awesome well that’s i mean i think
that
that’s a huge and i love the marketing
message that
you know that where we miss the mark all
the time um you know and
there’s there’s something to be said to
do promotions where you’re discounting
you know certain days of the week and
stuff like that of course but
but that i mean just straight from the
data right is
from from the consumer surveys that you
guys have done is saying hey people are
looking for time savings and convenience
so
you know marketing 101 is
find out what the customer wants in
their own language
and just tell them their own words back
to them right
and they’re you’re going to connect with
them on a level that they
didn’t even anticipate because you are
speaking their language literally
so i love that well well that that the
survey that we did
and and i i had the joy of being able to
sort of write the survey and i gave
like these nine characteristics of why
you would choose a laundromat
and we asked consumers to rank them in
order of importance
and price was like ninth
or seventh out of nine you know maybe on
one year was
six out of nine one year was eight eight
out of nine
and what people wanted if i can remember
this off the top my head the number one
thing that consumers told us they wanted
having enough machines available when i
need them
number one yeah okay uh number
two was uh feeling safe and secure yeah
right so you know we we tend to like you
said have a narrow vision
on ben price but the consumers are
telling us
that uh it’s in that bottom half of
considerations behind
availability of equipment a clean safe
environment
and several other factors that come to
mind before they worry about what the
price is
yeah what’s nice to know if you have a
super dangerous laundromat
that you’re probably going to have
machines open so customers will be fine
with it because their number one is they
want machines open right
number two yeah none of those factors
exist at a vacuum jordan you gotta you
gotta have
uh you know hopefully uh you’re hitting
on all checking all those boxes
yeah yeah yeah well and that’s true man
i i think that
you know having a safe place i mean
right the basics right
are having a clean place like nobody
wants to come
clean their clothes and then leave a
dirty store
you just don’t feel like your stuff is
clean right you got roaches walking
around and stuff this is like my store
when i took over
my very first one the roaches the size
of my face in there
and i’m like well who’s gonna come do
laundry here i’m not i don’t want to
bring one of these things home in my
laundry right like keep it clean
keep it lit uh you know keep it safe and
that sometimes depending on where you’re
at
is easier said than done and again going
back to that
that not being passive uh for me
in my first laundromat it was a
dangerous place i didn’t
i mean i knew it was like not a great
neighborhood i did not know it was like
outright dangerous place when i took
over it and it took a lot of time and a
lot of effort
to clean that place out but you got to
do it right it’s got to be a safe place
because that’s you know like you said
that’s top
priority in that top half so you know
focusing on those basics and you know
keeping machines
working keeping your coin changers if
you’re still
in a coin store keeping those full
making sure there’s coins available
which sometimes is easier said than done
in those unattended stores
um you know i i talk to people and this
happens in my unattended store and i
talk to people all the time who
people come by crazy amounts of quarters
for whatever reason right it can be hard
to keep them full but you got to do it
right
you got to go to the bank an extra time
a week you know all these basics
you just like you said it’s simple but
it’s not always easy but you gotta
you gotta stay on the basics keep doing
the right things
over a long period of time so
love that uh i mean we’ve mentioned
some cla research have you guys been
doing
any research recently or anything new
coming out just out of curiosity what
you guys doing i love
that’s one of the things i like most
about the cla is that you guys are you
know try to keep your finger on the
pulse of things you’re
always asking questions of owners and
customers and
vendors and all that so out of curiosity
you guys have anything going on lately
yeah there’s a i guess a couple things i
could mention uh we’re just about to
field our
for our 25th straight year our our
industry survey
which gives you know annual data
on event price equipment mix expense
ratios for utilities
for payroll for rent
for uh really all the basic things that
that we’re doing and so
we think it’s important to spend the the
money and again this is not an online
poll
you know we hire a professional research
company that does the
statistically sound surveying and we
make sure that
we’re investing in good data for all of
you and so that’s something that we
publish every year
it’s free to members annually as part of
your membership it’s in our store
uh it’s not less than 100 bucks if
you’re a non-member that wants to buy a
copy but
you don’t have to guess you know the
data has been gathered and aggregated
and we can you have the ability to look
at it
on a multi-year basis another thing i’ll
mention is we
especially with cobid we started doing a
lot more kind of a survey monkey style
pulse
survey so we were reaching out to you
in the beginning of the pandemic and
finding that the average store was down
30 percent uh in those first couple of
months and then quickly recovered as you
got into the
to the end of the year we did some great
survey work
in the face of our advocacy on the coin
shortage
we did an awful lot of work related to
the scarcity of quarters
i was personally engaged with the u.s
mint with the cash product office at the
federal reserve the u.s coin task force
and they were looking to us for data
they were looking for the data from all
of you saying i am having trouble
stocking quarters my bank does have them
available or doesn’t so we’re able to
get that information and
share it with all of you like we did but
also sharing it with the
regulators and legislators that you know
are involved in these key issues
i guess the third thing i say on
research is we continue to put out
once a quarter four times a year a brand
new white paper
which is a eight or ten or sometimes
twelve thousand word deep dive
into these key uh industry topics and so
again those are free if you’re a member
uh four times a year but they’re all
available a la carte in our store
so if you want to get the best
information on due diligence
or demographics and site analysis or
leases or we just did one on commercial
accounts uh we just released one on
writing a business plan so again
you don’t have to guess you know we’ve
got a
professional vetted authoritative
resource here
that can help you with that and you know
part of that goal is to have a you know
a distinctive library
that has the collective best information
and best practices
uh from all the subject matter experts
and make sure you can find that all in
one place
yeah i love that and you know i going
back to like
what’s changing in the industry and i
think that that is one of the things is
i mean the data’s been there right but i
think our world in general
like the biggest companies in the world
are all data companies right like
even amazon it’s a data company right
and they’re
you’re aggregating data and then using
that data
to you know to put the right things in
front of the right people to sell to
them right
so data is is king right now and so we
need to be making
business decisions based on data as
often as possible and that’s where
you know the the power of the network
washers the
you know the card readers that have all
kinds of data user data
all that stuff has so much power
in you know because that data can be
used to make the right decisions right
you’re not guessing anymore and so you
know i love that you guys are doing the
you know the the polls and the um the
industry
state of the industry um research
project the industry survey
um and the white papers all that stuff
because that data
is that’s like gold right it’s like
that’s how you
print money is you use the data to uh to
make your decision so
love that absolutely love that well we
got a few
little sections that we normally do and
i thought maybe
we could uh we could jump you and we
talked about a lot of these things
already but i just
you know maybe just to pinpoint we have
our first section listen up it’s the
secret sauce
called secret sauce okay and
uh secret sauce is basically you know
what what’s a good tip to help somebody
take their business
to the next level a current owner
something that they can implement into
their business to maybe
help them grow their business yeah i
shared a couple of those earlier but the
one that i still have on the list here
is uh is networking with your peers
um you know this podcast is a good
example
of that and again when i talk to
long-time
members of the association and again we
do all these programs and
in events and services and
but what they come back to is the
biggest value i’ve had
is the people i’ve met through the
association and
um you know it’s those uh connections
those friendships
those abilities to talk somebody who
speaks the same language
and so i just would encourage uh people
that you know this can be an insular
industry if you don’t
leave your store and if you don’t go out
and make an effort
either virtually or in person to connect
with other people in the industry
uh you’re you’re just never gonna get to
the level of success that you’d like to
have
so so the secret sauce for me is your
peers
the other people in the industry and
jordan you probably
discovered this i don’t know how we can
uh
you know take credit for it i don’t know
that we can but this industry
is very willing to share you know people
aren’t you know maybe if you’re across
the street that’s one thing but most
every store owner
is willing to you know share information
share best practices
and try to help the next guy and so
that’s something that i think
has to be part of the ingredients in
your secret sauce
yeah i love that secret sauce and you
know that is exactly what this whole
podcast relies on right it relies on
people willing to come on and share
their experience their lessons their
wisdom
you know with each other and i you know
there’s
there’s the whole um you know mantra
that
so many people spout you know you’re the
average of the five people you spend
your most time with
you know there’s i mean there’s in
things along those lines like it’s
important
who you communicate with and it’s
important who you take information right
and so if you want to grow your business
to the next level
you need to start getting around
networking getting around people who
are doing things at another level from
you
inside our industry and probably outside
of the industry also
um so i think that’s great secret sauce
yeah we got another section called pro
tips
and pro tips is directed to somebody
maybe trying to buy their first
laundromat you have any tips for the
first time or something maybe they
should be aware of or be thinking about
or
doing before they buy their first
laundromat
sure well i certainly love speaking to
prospective laundromat
owners um you you may not know this but
we have a program where i
uh we sent an invitation i want to speak
to every single brand new member of coin
laundry association and quite often they
are first timer so we
i’m having these conversations multiple
times a week
and so we kind of speak that language
what i’m hearing a lot from people are
looking to buy their first store
is kind of that tire kicking and the
frustration i have looked at five stores
i looked at 10 stores i looked at 15
stores in the area
and what i try to tell them is the
shortcut for that analysis
is talk about the lease first
everyone wants to talk about the revenue
or agent condition of the equipment
or you know why the person is selling
and again those are all things you’re
going to want to discover
at some point in your process but if the
lease isn’t right
the rest of it is a moot point right the
revenue doesn’t matter
what equipment’s in there doesn’t matter
how many parking spaces don’t matter
so you know when you’re going through
that arduous process of kissing a lot of
frogs
um you know if you can focus on the
lease
first and oftentimes at least if it is
bad it can be improved
but i’d view that as one of the more
compelling shortcuts for first-time
laundromat owners that may be
in a little bit of a fatigue stage of
looking at a lot of existing stores
have a laser focus on the lease because
if the lease isn’t right the rest
doesn’t matter
yeah i think that’s really great advice
you know i do uh
you know webinars every week and when we
do one on how to buy
your first laundromat one of the things
that i’ll say in there is
you know your lease is arguably your
most important asset
you know it’s at least as important as
your machines if not even more important
than your machines
more so yeah because if you have a bad
lease i mean
i can’t tell you how many previous
owners i’ve talked to who have
you know gotten out of the business uh
because they had a bad lease and you
know their laundromat just couldn’t
support it
and so you know i i think that’s huge
and
finding a good lease is probably even
more important than finding a good
location
uh or at least on par with that because
you know that lease is going to be one
of your two biggest expenses right
between maybe labor might be your other
big expense
but it’s a huge asset or a huge
liability to your business
right if we flip that for the existing
operators
the best thing you can do today to make
your laundromat more valuable is to
improve the lease
add time you know set the terms
because when it comes time for you to
sell which may be on your schedule or
life schedule you never know what’s
going to happen so if you’re on that end
of the transaction
making your lease longer making it more
competitive
is again probably more important than
you increasing the net
you have to have that lease right
whether you’re from the seller’s
perspective or the buyer’s perspective
yep couldn’t agree more uh awesome pro
tip
and for anybody looking to buy their
first laundromat uh
you know that’s a that’s a great
shortcut and not even just a shortcut
but that’s just good solid advice
in general that you need to be looking
at check out those leases find out the
the length left on them and the terms
left on them so
awesome pro tip thanks for sharing that
another
section called recommended resources and
obviously the coin laundry association
is
uh is an awesome resource for owners
maybe i don’t know if you want to
highlight maybe some resources
in particular that you guys have or if
you have resources that are not
coin laundry association or i don’t know
but do you have anything yeah
i think i can uh hit on some cla stuff
and some non-cla stuff uh maybe from
more of a personal perspective but
from the association standpoint again
this is an aggregation of 60 years of
industry know-how this is the knowledge
base
this is thousands of laundromat owners
over decades
and so we’re sort of the repository of
those best practices and that best
information so that comes through
uh you know planet laundry magazine
which you can
subscribe to for free just go to
plantlaundry.com
i mentioned the white papers is a great
resource
i said yesterday we did a webinar we’re
doing multiple
topic specific webinars each and every
month that you can enroll and take those
take those courses jordan one of the
things that we’ve really
uh beefed up here in the last two years
is what we’re calling cla business
solutions so
again it can be a little bit uh isolated
running a laundromat you don’t you don’t
have a lot of help
right you’re wearing all the hats and so
one of the things that we’ve done is put
together the cla business solution so
we’ve got
vetted curated uh discounted
support for your property and liability
insurance
your health insurance uh getting
demographic reports uh we just launched
a new program with paychecks for
discounted
uh payroll processing our amp digital
marketing
atmosphere tv we’re helping you with the
in-store video feeds and several more so
what we want to do is be an extension of
your business
you don’t have the ability to put on a
marketing director
you’re not going to have a accounting
department that’s going to go find you
the best deals
we have a great program on utility
buying uh if you’re in a market that’s
uh
that where you can buy deregulated
utilities for either gas electricity or
both so
let us be an extension of your business
you can’t be an expert in buying natural
gas and finding payroll processing
and figuring out how to do the best
website you know but we can help you do
that
through cla business solutions and that
would be another resource you could find
on our
website at coinlaundry.org
on more of a personal basis on
recommended resources
a couple things came to mind i’m a
believer
in just recent years you know an old dog
learning new tricks is i’ve really tried
to take advantage of executive coaching
and you might automatically think that
that’s priced out of your range
uh don’t assume that i have found that
you know having a coach uh just like
anything else
can be really helpful and i tend to kind
of change up coaches with different
perspectives and just different
approaches um
and a friend of mine happens to run the
international coach federation so you
can go to their website they have a
great
tool for finding accredited local
coaches based on
uh topic of interest or price point or
the way you like to learn
so you know even though you said i’m
just a laundromat owner
no you’re a small business entrepreneur
you need you could benefit i think from
from coaching just like i do uh each and
every week so
uh the coaching i think is something
that i’d like to share as a recommended
resource
just uh generally um i love that i know
nobody’s brought that up before i really
love that yeah i mean it’s
like you know who couldn’t benefit from
from having a good coach
and um you had asked about maybe some
book recommendations i don’t think i’ve
got anything
uh you know super secret for you but um
actually through one of my coaching
engagements i really took a deep dive
into
simon sinek and his book uh start with
why
you may have seen it through i think
it’s the third most watched
ted talk ever from simon sinek and i
just think that that’s a great
book or watch the video or both about
just really understanding what makes
your business tick
why why are you there and using that as
the platform
for driving uh your decisions uh in the
business and making sure that
you’re taking the best possible care of
your customers those are a couple of
recommended resources that i’d
be happy to share yeah i love that book
and i think i
i mean i think that’s great for anybody
looking to buy their first laundromat
maybe
go check that book out first before you
pull the trigger on that because that’s
a great book
and it really digs deep into you know
what your motivation is and if it’s
if if your motivation is going to line
up with you know owning a laundromat
you know because that’s a big question
and i see a lot of people who
you know buy a laundromat and a year or
two later they’re out of it because it’s
it didn’t line up with what they were
looking for so you know start with why
and and also i think that’s a great
resource for current
business owners too um like i mean like
you mentioned so
great yeah great yeah and you know and
you know starting with why maybe that
could be a segue for me to talk about
these signs behind me here
and uh next yeah the laundry the laundry
cares foundation because for me this has
had a lot to do with why and so the
short version
is uh myself other friends in the
business we just feel an immense
amount of gratitude for this industry
and the livelihood that it’s provided
you know the way i look at it my career
for almost 30 years
starts with that mom dropping a quarter
in a washing machine you know and those
families are often from under-resourced
neighborhoods that we serve
and it got us thinking about what can we
do
to give back and support the families
that have been supporting our businesses
all these years and so we
created a separate foundation the
laundry cares foundation really with
that mission of giving back
to the families that support our
businesses and as we’ve
dug deeper into that work we found that
we really have a
unique opportunity because we are a
channel we are a conduit
for connecting resources with the
families that need them most
if you talk to people that are engaged
in literacy people are engaged in
uh health care people that are engaged
in
providing providing resources to
low-income families what they’ll tell
you is these families are hard to find
right there there’s help available but
it’s just hard to
connect with them based on those
families are busy and they have multiple
jobs and they’re
you know they’re uh often uh sort of
dispersed
and we said yeah we know where they are
we know where they are every week
and we have this tremendous opportunity
to connect them with resources
you know so uh our three pillars real
quickly are
our free laundry and literacy days uh
where we
uh put on or encourage you to put on uh
a day of free laundry
uh but build that with uh perhaps free
food free soap
and connections to local organizations
whether it’s a wic clinic or a health
literacy group or
a financial literacy group um or a
reading
campaign group to you know come to the
laundromat and help connect
those customers with the resources that
can help them
you’ve probably talked to the willowford
family a quick anecdote from those guys
is you know they had one of the
breast cancer awareness charities
approached them about setting up a table
on a saturday afternoon
and the net result of that was they had
more sign ups more connections with
at-risk
women than they had found in any other
outreach that they’ve done
so what we’re trying to do with the
foundation is
activate this continuity this connection
that we have to the communities that
need the most help
and our primary effort has been this one
over here which is the
uh laundry literacy coalition talk about
oxymorons
but knowing that you know the families
and their kids that are coming to the
laundromat
are behind when it comes to kindergarten
preparedness
reading at the third grade level by
third grade uh they often live in book
deserts
uh i take for granted with my
ten-year-old we got more books than we
can
uh you know stack up in any one place so
delivering books
uh you know is an important part of that
laundry and literacy day the second
thing is
our family replay learn centers which is
building a mini
library space in the laundromat we’ve
all got that
that corner that you can sort of up
cycle into a little space with a
bookshelf and a table and if you’ve seen
uh the videos at laundrycares.org you
see that it it is a game changer
it uh lifts up those families your
attendants
hold their heads a bit higher you feel a
greater sense of purpose
in your business as a laundromat owner
and it’s delivering real
measurable help in the communities by
having those connections and then we
partner with local library systems and
other folks that can come in to
read stories the third pillar is a
disaster response and recovery you know
we know that when there’s a hurricane a
tornado some kind of natural disaster
there’s ready help when it comes to
finding people
a hot meal a place to stay but laundry
is one of those really acute needs
that’s really hard to
match and solve right away so that’s
the part of our foundation that we’re
working hard to develop further but all
of you are in a position to
uh provide that type of support we get
calls from fema we get calls from other
relief organizations because they really
need access to
to laundromats in the wake of those
storms so the way that
all of you can help go to
laundrycares.org one of the things you
can do for free jordan is just simply
enroll your locations in our laundry
cares network
it’s free put in your locations and all
you’re doing is raising your hand and
saying i’m a community friendly
laundromat
that’s only that the only commitment
you’re making but as we work with local
partners and have opportunities come
that come up we’re able to find you
literally on the map you’ll see the map
on
coin on closing in on a thousand
locations
and that way we can connect you with
these opportunities to give back to the
community so
um for a higher sense of purpose for
giving back
and taking care of the the families that
take care of us
laundry care’s foundation is a great way
for you to live that
and tying it off with new investors
jordan what i’m hearing from a lot of
people that are new to the business
is they’re looking for that corporate
social responsibility they’re looking
for
getting into a business where they can
have a real impact and so laundry cares
has actually
made our industry that much more
attractive to new investors because
there’s a built-in csr program
a ready-made uh banner for them to help
the community
yeah i love that i love you know i i
think that
you know the the two biggest reasons
that i think that i hear
people wanting to get in this business
is one you know the
the time and money freedom kind of that
flex time uh you can have and but
number two is that you can you can do
something good for your community right
and so i think that
laundry cares does a great job i love
the three pillars you know those are all
huge needs and
i people don’t think laundromats when
they think of community outreach when
they think of
you know disaster relief those kinds of
things
but you know as as we’ve seen over this
last year
you know laundromats can play a huge
role in
in all of these things so i love that
there’s an organization out there
uh getting us together and
and empowering us and giving us the
opportunities to
um you know to give back to our
communities and
to help you know our communities in
times of need even
so and and and just in general not even
just in times of need but it’s just in
general
it’s it’s a it’s a real honor to do this
work and and
encourage all of you you volunteer at a
free laundry day event and it’ll it’ll
really change your perspective
and uh you may have seen our hashtag
laundry’s connecting communities
because i think that’s really what it
boils down to you know
laundry’s connecting communities we have
a tremendous opportunity and i would
argue an obligation
to do this work and to take care of the
families that take care of us
awesome well brian this has been awesome
i’m
super super grateful and humbled that
you came on and talked to
us about you know what it is that you do
in at the cla and laundry cares and just
sharing all the wisdom and experience of
your last
you know almost 30 years now and
congrats on 29 years next
month by the way that’s a big thank you
big milestone we’ll have to uh
you know throw some kind of party or
something next year
you know maybe a makeover i didn’t have
all this great stuff
when i started out yeah yeah maybe
you’ll have to get i don’t know do you
get like a
like a mid-life crisis for being you
know
being in there for 30 years let me go
get a harley or something for your third
year
uh i don’t know i’ll just i’ll be
content with uh
getting back on the road and getting out
to see everybody
again here after the after the pandemic
but uh
my pleasure to be here jordan i really
appreciate the invitation and the
opportunity to connect with
with your followers and i just hope
everybody understands that
there is a community in this industry
both from a business perspective and
from a charitable perspective and
i appreciate you giving me the
opportunity to share a little bit about
what’s going on here
yeah and just real quick uh why don’t
you tell people how they can get a hold
of you
or um you know find out more information
about the cla the coin laundry
association
yeah thank you for that yeah just like
most things uh start at the website
uh coinlottery.org
our listing is in is in good stead but
we’re kind of national
uh in scope so coin lottery.org is a
great place to learn about
your membership uh getting engaged to be
part of this community
as well as some of the individual
resources i mentioned laundrycares.org
which is another place where you can
learn about the activities of the
foundation how you can get involved
and last but not least planetlaundry.com
which is our flagship publication we’ve
been uh
just now past our 30th year of
publishing the best
magazine resource in the industry and so
again if you’re just getting
your feet wet you can sign up for a free
subscription print and digital
and get the best information your hands
every month from planet lottery magazine
awesome well and those links and all the
other links that we talked about
including
i’ll throw in the international coaches
federation all those links that we
talked about will be in the show notes
if you’re on youtube
those will be down below in the comments
section so make make sure you click
through those
uh brian again thank you so much for
coming on it’s been
awesome and we’ll definitely have to do
this again sometime
i’d love to do it again jordan thanks
again for having me i appreciate it
we’ll talk to you soon
thank you how cool was that episode with
brian wallace
super super uh just grateful that he
came on and shared with us
uh all this wisdom that he’s had from
being you know part of this industry for
a really long time obviously he’s met
a lot of people in this industry maybe
some of you guys have met him
he’s checked out a lot of different
laundromats so very very cool to get his
input and
an insight uh into you know
this industry and figuring out how to
help us grow our businesses that’s what
he does for a living so very cool
again thanks to brian for joining us uh
every single week i try to encourage you
pick one thing that you can put into
action
big or small doesn’t matter action is
the key to success
so pick something that you could put
into action this week one of the things
that i loved
that he said was that he has
coaches different coaches at various
times and i
love that i’ve been thinking about doing
that um
finding some coaches for me personally
um there’s a whole bunch of different
kinds of coaches out there
um you know anywhere from you know
personal training
coaching to i think he said he’s doing
executive coaching
small business coaching there’s some
free coaching
that i’ve heard of through uh i think
sba does that
um there’s uh there’s a lot of different
kinds of coaches out there so
for me uh i’m gonna be looking for
my next coach uh to help me take my
businesses
whether that’s my laundromats or maybe
even here at laundromat resource
to the next level so that could be
exciting for me
obviously but it could be really
exciting for you too if we
uh you know if we just keep on rolling
out some cool stuff that we’re doing to
help laundromat owners out
too so be on the lookout you know feel
free to ask me about my coaching
and what uh what that means for you
because that should mean something for
you too i feel like all right
anyways make sure you pick something put
it into practice and head over to
laundromat resource.com
forums let us know what action step
you’re taking
based off of these podcast episodes i
think that we would all
really benefit from hearing from each
other about what action step we’re
taking
and what that means for us all right i
cannot wait
to see you in the next episode of the
laundromat resource podcast
until then we’ll see you peace
[Music]

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