You’ll often hear a business blog or investor piece talking about how the commercial laundromat industry is “dying.”
They’ll point to things like a lower number of new laundromats opening, or the preference of buyers and renters for in-unit washers and dryers as evidence that commercial laundry is on the way out.
But of course, extrapolating a small data set to prematurely declare an industry dead is a common pastime for business blogs. The fact is the laundromat industry not only isn’t dying but is projected to get even bigger in the coming years, and Laundry One is here to help make that happen.
Coin-Operated Laundry is a Great Investment and Projected to Grow
A 2020 study showed that the coin-operated laundry industry was a $14.6 billion industry in 2019, with the largest share of that being in North America.
And not only is that a massive industry already, but it was projected to grow at a whopping 9.4% between 2020 and 2027.
That’s a lot of potential for growth in the commercial laundry industry, and it remains a great investment with relatively little risk, as businesses go. Unlike many businesses, laundromats can be run relatively passively, even if you have no experience in the commercial laundry industry beforehand.
Because laundromats are primarily automated, this makes it a great choice if you’re looking for a business you can run without having to spend all your time there.
That doesn’t mean you can neglect it entirely – you still need to be on hand to make sure your laundry facility is clean and you’re quickly handling repairs. But compared to the 24/7 attention required by, say, a restaurant, new laundromats are much lower-maintenance and can be successfully run even by people with a different day job.
Barriers to entry are also relatively low, as the vast majority of laundromats are owned by mom-and-pop operations that own only one or two locations. The coin-op laundry industry doesn’t really have a major “Wal-Mart”-style force that dominates areas with name recognition and impossible price competition.
What that means is that running a coin-op laundry business is as much about people and personal connections as equipment and facilities. If you’re looking to get into the commercial laundry industry by setting up in a single location, you’ll be in good company. But that doesn’t mean everything comes easy.
Pitfalls to Joining the Coin-Op Laundry Industry
The laundromat industry isn’t dead, and it isn’t dying, but it IS changing.
You can’t simply open up a new laundromat on any old street corner and expect to start cashing in. The laundromat industry is often referred to as a “mature market.” What this means, in effect, is that there are not a lot of communities that need a laundromat that are not already being served by one.
That means your options, as a prospective new laundromat owner, include finding a newly-developed area that could use a laundromat (think new apartment communities without in-unit laundry facilities), or taking over an existing laundromat in a desirable area from someone looking to sell.
Your other big option when starting a laundromat is to change the game.
How the Coin-Op Laundry Industry is Evolving
Once upon a time, adding dry-cleaning services to a coin-operated laundry facility was a big deal.
Today, it’s a fairly common add-on service, but it’s not enough to make a new laundromat stand out. Today’s coin-op laundry facilities are evolving to become places where people want to spend their time.
The fact is, customers spend a majority of their time at laundromats simply waiting around. A vending machine and a TV in the corner set to a news channel isn’t really going to make it more fun for someone to hang out while they wait for their blue jeans to dry. Keeping your laundromat clean and equipping it with shiny new machines will help, but won’t make the experience stand out.
That’s why many new laundromats are making the experience more enjoyable by adding small coffee shops, free Wi-Fi, and even video games. These are all things that will increase your overhead, of course, but they are also huge differentiating factors in an industry where there aren’t very many of those to work with.
Some modern laundromats are also introducing drop-off/pick-up laundry services, where they can simply have staff take care of their laundry during a busy day.
These are all examples of how the coin-op laundry industry is evolving to thrive in changing times, rather than withering. With a good business plan, smart management, and a few edges to help you stand out from the competition, you can grab your piece of that growing $14.6 billion pie.
We can help! Contact Laundry One or check out our investment guide to see what opportunities are available to you! We can even help you put together a successful business plan. www.laundryone.com