Finding your optimum location
Choosing the location of your Laundromat is the most important decision in contributing to the success of your venture. You can do everything else right, but if the location is poor your business will never reach its maximum potential. There are many vital considerations to take into account when choosing a site for a new store, or examining the opportunities associated with an existing store.
Before you engage in planning at a potential site, ensure that the relevant council approves this business type in the area. There are further considerations concerning water, drainage, electricity and gas that must be properly addressed to ensure the adequate operation of your equipment. Location can mean different things depending on where you want to setup your new business. Whether you’re looking at a stand-alone building or integrating into a shopping centre.
Whether you are locating your store into a strip of shops, a site within a shopping centre or going into a stand-alone building, you need to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each individual site. Some landlords will charge you a premium on top of normal rent for a more visible location, or a specific store-front. This positioning may be key to increased opportunity, making your business more profitable.
Below is some important information to take into consideration during your site selection process. The time you spend during this stage in determining the viability of your proposed location will minimise your financial risk, and encourage a successful investment.
People are your business when providing a laundry facility so research areas where there is an existing dense population and high people traffic. This equates to more potential customers for your service. It needs to be a convenient location where people already frequent – it’s far more difficult to drive a client base to an industrial area, as apposed to them popping a load of washing on while they go for their weekly shop. Research the demographic. A suburb with a significant rental population and/or Government housing establishments is likely to have more demand for your service, as households are less likely to invest in complete domestic laundry solutions.
The amount of people per household will also impact your Laundromat. The higher the number, the more likely this household will require full or additional laundry services. Linen, towels and large amounts of clothing are much easier and quicker to clean and dry at a Laundromat, as opposed to running multiple loads in a domestic washer or dryer.
Household income plays a major part when investing in a domestic washing machine and/or tumble dryer. The cost needs to be put in proportion with other household needs. Income levels and the affordability of services versus the product is more important in middle to lower income households. The higher the income bracket the less likely the family is to require the services of a Laundromat, except in the case of delivery and pickup washing service.
Onsite parking is another important attribute of a successful Laundromat. Ample parking in front of the store is ideal. During wet weather, one wants to carry heavy baskets of wet clothes from the car to the Laundromat for drying, the shorter the distance the better.
When looking at a possible location, do some homework on any existing Laundromats in the area. Spend some time watching the flow of customers, and assess the store’s lighting and cleanliness. Is it a successful business? Don’t automatically assume that the existing business the area covered. A little competition can be helpful in deciding whether a venture is viable in the local vicinity. A poorly maintained operation with a large clientele may signal a need for a clean, new option.
Your neighbouring businesses can play a part in attracting more clients to your Laundromat. Is your potential site accessible in terms of other "destination" businesses (supermarkets, banks, post offices, pharmacies, cafes or other high-traffic locations)? If so, your Laundromat will be accessible to a broader market. A place they can get change and go to while waiting for their wash. You may even choose to jointly market with the other businesses to your catchment area.
Is the store visible? Is the storefront visible to passing traffic? Check the signage available for size, placement and restrictions. The best signs are readable from 150 meters away. Can the sign be lighted and can the sign be a different appearance than the signs of the neighbouring businesses? Check the appearance of the neighbouring businesses - especially at night and on the weekends.
What about the store itself? Is it big enough for adequate equipment and customer comfort? Mor equipment makes more money, and more comfort attracts more customers. Consider 45 square meters a minimum and 70 square meters as approaching the maximum. Also, look at the shape of the space. A long narrow hallway looks cramped even if the total space is large. A wider storefront is more visible from the street. Be creative - could a "drive-up" window be incorporated into the design of your store?