The 3 P's of a Stellar Laundromat Location
Determining a stellar laundromat location for your first, or next, purchase is the most important thing you can do. Let me repeat: The most important thing you can do is buy a laundromat in a good location. This post is an exposition on the first point of the 9 Essential Laundromat Analysis Keys. Read through that post before you go out and buy yourself a laundromat. If it’s one thing you want to get right in this business it’s buying the right deal, because once you own it, you own it. So work your way through this series and download and use the pre-analysis scorecard.
Again, I’ll remind you that the pre-analysis is designed to be a quick and dirty picture of whether the laundromat has enough infrastructure around it and in it to be successful. Once a laundromat successfully passes the pre-analysis, then you can devote time into doing a more thorough analysis. This is meant to be a time and energy saver before you invest those things into a stronger candidate.
So let’s talk location. Your laundromat location will determine the size, quality, and frequency of the pool of customers you will potentially draw from. It’s extremely difficult to move the location of a laundromat once it’s established. If you build it or buy it in a location that doesn’t work then your business will be in trouble and your options will be limited. So what should you be looking for when doing a pre-analysis of a laundromat location? Let’s take a look.
People. Obviously, people are the lifeblood of our business. So, needless to say, there needs to be people around your business. But in the laundromat industry, in terms of business health, not all people are created equal. You need the right people living near your laundromat to have a chance at having a successful business.
One of the first things you should do is get a rough idea of who your ideal clients will be in that location. Are they going to be blue collar, lower-middle class, apartment dwelling families? Will your clients be mostly single and ready to mingle college students? Will they be DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids) with no time to do their own laundry? Are they going to be businesses that have laundry needs? There are a variety of demographics that your potential laundromat can serve. You’ll get a sense of who those people will be by spending a little time in the laundromat and driving the neighborhoods surrounding the mat.
Another thing to eyeball is whether or not there are enough people around your laundromat to support it. At this point in the pre-analysis checklist we’re not digging into numbers, we’re just trying to get a feel for the number of potential customers to see if this particular laundromat is worth spending more time looking into. You’re looking for multi-family housing like apartments and duplexes/triplexes/fourplexes, older housing that may not have laundry hook-ups, mobile home parks, and potentially small businesses that may need to wash tools of their trade, like a car wash that needs to wash rags, for example.
Parking. If there aren’t enough spots for your customers to park, when the lot is full they’ll drive right past yours to the next laundromat. You need ample parking close to the door. People don’t like lugging their laundry a long ways to get it in the store. There’s usually not much you can do to improve a store’s parking situation unless you own the land and have some unused space on it to expand to. I have never seen the parking metric quantified. Based on my own observations, I would say you should look for a minimum of 5-to-1 ratio of washing machines to parking spots. Obviously, the lower the ratio the better. I have the metric quantified on the pre-analysis scorecard in a way that attributes points to varying ratios to make things easy.
Pvisibility. Pronounce the P. It’s not a word. I know. But I couldn’t resist having 3 P’s and ‘Perceivable’ just didn’t cut it. Even with the nicest laundromat in town and plenty of parking, you’ll still have a tough time generating business if people can’t find your laundromat. Ideally you want a prospective store to be easily seen from a busy street. You want to have good signage to alert passers-by of your existence. And you want your store to stand out in some way.I know you were taught growing up not to seek attention, but you’re about to be a business owner now (or already are one). Attention is half the battle. So, observe ways a potential laundromat purchase is already drawing attention to itself, then jot down some notes on how you might increase its pvisibility to draw more attention to the store if you were to buy it.
A good location for a store is half the battle. In fact, it may be more than half the battle. So, while you’re doing your pre-analysis and running through the pre-analysis scorecard, pay special attention to the three P’s of People, Parking, and Pvisibility.
Again, this is just a quick and dirty analysis to help you throw out potential stores that aren’t going to be a good fit for you without investing too much time. At this point, you’re not digging too much into numbers. You’re just getting a feel for a variety of laundromats and separating them into one of two piles: 1. Those that have potential for you, and 2. Those that don’t have potential for you. Toss out those that don’t have any potential because of a bad location. Send those who pass the laundromat location test through the next pre-analysis step.
Do you have any other tips to help pre-owners sort through potential deals quickly based on location? Share the wealth in the comments!