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Laundromat Dryer Fire

Laundromat Dryer Fire

     I received a call on the 800 line from one of my Laundromats. One advantage of the 800 number is you have the choice of accepting the call after you pick it up, sending it to voicemail or listening as they leave a message and picking up if you want to.

     In this case I took the call. It was from the Fire Department in the small town where one of my more remote Laundromats is located. I was pleasant and asked how their day was going and in true Southern fashion he answered the question before getting to business.

     Now one thing to keep in mind is that the Fire Departments call to set up visits for inspections and because they can’t always make the appointment due to fires and stuff it may take a few calls before we actually get the inspection completed.

     So after the formalities were completed he explained they were on scene at my Laundromat due to a dryer fire and they needed access to the back room to turn the power off.

     I packed up and headed that way. I was unable to initially get a hold of the lady that lives in the area and does my cleaning but she did get there just a few minutes before me.

When you get a call like this you never know what to expect. It may be some damage to one of the machines , there may be some smoke damage and some walls to repair or patch to secure the area or the place could be a total disaster.

     Once I arrived and found only a couple of SUV’s there and no body with hoses cooling the hot spots I headed in to see the damage.

     The fire was contained to one of the dryers and did not even have any smoke damage to the front of it.

     After some investigation I found a lot of build up on the temperature sensor. We looked at some of the other ones with the fire department to show that they are kept clean as well as the lint is removed on a regular basis.

     An issue I have found on some of the sensors is that some older type rugs and blankets will come apart in the dryer and build up on the sensor. This works like a blanket to keep the heat out and the dryer will run hotter to try and maintain the set temperature.

     I also found out during the discussion with the cleaner that everyone liked that dryer “because it dried clothes so fast”. Sometimes it only took $0.50 to dry, sure you had to grab them and throw them on the table to cool but it dried great.

     So it appears that either the load that was in the drier or a previous one had deposited a bunch of lint etc on the sensor and combined with the already high dry temperature it was a little too much.

     There was no sign of the customer that had put the clothes in the dryer so I’m not sure what was put in there or if it was something that should not have been in there at all.

     I left the dryer unplugged until I can investigate the temperature issue and get a new lint screen. I also need some lint door locks as the one on this dryer and the adjoining dryer on each side were opened but the Fire Department.

     A few things to mention to new and experienced owners. A quick search will find pictures of the results of dryer fires in Laundromats. The results of the one at my store are rare as there was so little damage.

     If you think through the situation that would cause a dryer fire and the process of it you can understand how to prevent them as much as possible.

     I have seen dryer ducts that were completely plugged without catching fire. Many fires will start due to an item being in the dryer that shouldn’t  be , for example a lighter, other causes would be overheating of clothes or  due to mechanical failure.

     The NFPA website lists ”  The leading cause of home clothes dryer and washer fires was failure to clean (32%), followed by unclassified mechanical failure or malfunction (22%). Eight percent were caused by some type of electrical failure or malfunction.”

     Failure to clean the dryers reduces the drying efficiency by reducing the airflow and forcing your customers to spend more time in your store and tying up machines for too long on busy days.

     The normal operation of the dryer is pretty simple. The air is moved over a heater (gas, steam or electric), the air is heated, moved through the drum and clothes, filtered and blown outside. The fan is normally after the drum which creates a negative pressure in the dryer to hold the door shut and control the flow of lint and hot air.

     If a fire starts in the dryer drum or at the heating element the fan is going to continue to pull air out of the drum and exhaust it and the fire out of the exhaust duct. This situation provides fresh air to build the fire but initially it forces the smoke outside.

     The problems arise when either the fire in the drum gets too big that it can’t be controlled by the airflow or the lint in the dryer and duct catches fire. At this point the fire and heat will begin to escape through whatever space is possible. The motor may fail due to the plastic fan catching fire or the wiring insulation breaking down.  The rubber gaskets around the dryer door and glass may fail and the fire begins to travel up the walls.

     Keeping your lint filters and ductwork clean can prevent fires as well as possibly reducing the damage caused should a fire occur.

 

     When you are building or renovating your store make sure the duct work is as short and straight as possible.  Seal all of the seams with a proper metal tape and clean regularly. The frequency will be determined by the manufactures recommendations and  will also be affected by the volume of business your store does. And remember to set your schedule based on your busiest dryers.

Below are some pictures of the dryer: 

This is the top of the sensor looking down through the drum.

 

The inside of the base. The lint screen is normally on the angle tracks infront of the fan.

 

This is the temperature sensor. You can make out the sensor itself in the centre along the bottom of the mass. It is copper colored and about the size of a pencil. The material built up on the sensor insulated it from the heat causing the burner to run too hot

 

Another view of the sensor from the bottom looking up into the drum.

If you have any comments please post them below.

Ken

Health Fair Marketing

Health Fair Marketing

     I tried some old school marketing this week. I set up a table at a local Seniors Health Fair. The Health Fair is organized by the Alabama Institute For the Deaf and Blind- Senior Services Division. The location moves to different locations and counties in the area and has been ongoing since around 2008.

     There were about 40 tables set up with information from a variety of local businesses. Most cater to the elderly but there were others as well. There were many of the local Hospice care facilities and retirement homes as well as drug stores, health insurance, Tupperware, make up, Lions club, some local organizations and  a Coin Laundry.

     I was promoting the services at my attended store with a focus on comforter cleaning with our Drop Off Service. I had a variety of handouts including koozies, rulers with magnifiers built in, price lists, information about comforter cleaning and some maps to the store.

     Also on the table was the miniature washing machine, a bag of finished clothes, and some vend soap to show the products we use in the store.

     One thing I found out pretty quick was that you better keep an eye on anything you don’t want stuffed in a bag. I had to move the vend soap to the back of the table and it was still a target.

     At one point during the proceedings they made an announcement that the Tupperware was not free and asked  if it could be returned.

     The only cost to the vendors was a door prize so there was lots to go around.

     The feature speaker of the day was Jeh Jeh Pruitt a local news and sports reporter for MyFoxAL, Fox 6. @JehJehP.  He was a little late due to a scheduling, (or lack of scheduling)  error but dropped everything and made the hour plus drive to make the event.

     I had read a bit of his bio on the news website but did not realize that he grew up in that area and went to the local schools and college. I’m sure that helped him find the meeting location easily. Even though he was put on stage within a few seconds of walking in the door he did a great job of presenting his message of helping each other and how most businesses are actually based on helping others.

     He also mentioned the foundation he runs with his wife , The Dannon Project.” It was established to help persons in transition, especially those with addictions on the road to recovery, unemployed, underemployed, at-risk youth and adults, both male and female and specifically non violent offenders reentering society. “

     Although I only met him briefly after the event, for someone that was willing to clear a chunk out of his day, drive over an hour , deliver an address to the crowd and stay around for pictures he still brought the energy and excitement that we see every day.

     This article started with a message about marketing and promotion and as much as it evolved some of the basics still apply.  You represent your business, or non-profit, in your  daily activities.
      Sure you can hand out koozies and rulers and pens but when they get pulled out of the bag to be looked at later how will they remember you?

If you have any comments please post them below.

 
Ken

Health Fair and Helping

Health Fair and Helping

     I tried some old school marketing this week. I set up a table at a local Seniors Health Fair. The Health Fair is organized by the Alabama Institute For the Deaf and Blind- Senior Services Division. The location moves to different locations and counties in the area and has been ongoing since around 2008.

     There were about 40 tables set up with information from a variety of local businesses. Most cater to the elderly but there were others as well. There were many of the local Hospice care facilities and retirement homes as well as drug stores, health insurance, Tupperware, make up, Lions club, some local organizations and  a Coin Laundry.

     I was promoting the services at my attended store with a focus on comforter cleaning with our Drop Off Service. I had a variety of handouts including koozies, rulers with magnifiers built in, price lists, information about comforter cleaning and some maps to the store.

     Also on the table was the miniature washing machine, a bag of finished clothes, and some vend soap to show the products we use in the store.

     One thing I found out pretty quick was that you better keep an eye on anything you don’t want stuffed in a bag. I had to move the vend soap to the back of the table and it was still a target.

     At one point during the proceedings they made an announcement that the Tupperware was not free and asked  if it could be returned.

     The main proceedings started at 9am with some songs performed by the local Probate Judge, The Honorable Alice Martin. There were songs and other words of wisdom and lots of drawings. The only cost to the vendors was a door prize so there was lots to go around.

     The feature speaker of the day was Jeh Jeh Pruitt a local news and sports reporter for MyFoxAL, Fox 6. @JehJehP.  He was a little late due to a scheduling, (or lack of scheduling)  error but dropped everything and made the hour plus drive to make the event.

     I had read a bit of his bio on the news website but did not realize that he grew up in that area and went to the local schools and college. I’m sure that helped him find the meeting location easily. Even though he was put on stage within a few seconds of walking in the door he did a great job of presenting his message of helping each other and how most businesses are actually based on helping others.

     He also mentioned the foundation he runs with his wife , The Dannon Project.” It was established to help persons in transition, especially those with addictions on the road to recovery, unemployed, underemployed, at-risk youth and adults, both male and female and specifically non violent offenders reentering society. “

     At one point he had the entire audience take a pledge to try and help one person a day. I hope that for many in the room it was just a reaffirmation of their daily activities.

     What does it mean to help someone every day?  There are many kinds of help, from opening a door, helping someone down a set of stairs, having an open ear for someone to voice a fear or concern or, in Jeh Jeh’s  case helping someone change the course of their future as they have already paid the price for the mistakes of the past.
For those that have seen the morning news show that Jeh Jeh is featured on you will know that he is the “man on the street”, at the events, pep rally’s, festivals and he always brings a lot of energy and excitement to the show.

     Although I only met him briefly after the event, for someone that was willing to clear a chunk out of his day, drive over an hour , deliver an address to the crowd and stay around for pictures he still brought the energy and excitement that we see every day.

      This article started with a message about marketing and promotion and as much as it evolved some of the basics still apply.  You represent your business, or non-profit, in your  daily activities.
      Sure you can hand out koozies and rulers and pens but when they get pulled out of the bag to be looked at later how will they remember you?  

If you have any comments please post them below.

Ken

Washing Machine Display

Washing Machine Display

       I am putting a display at a Seniors Health Fair presented by the Alabama Institute For The Deaf and Blind- Senior Services Department.

            I was trying to find a way to have something interesting at my table along with information about our services.

       I did some searching and found this mini washer (Here’s the Link).
  I gave it a little test drive today.

           Next week I will be at the Health Fair and I’ll add some pictures and more video of the display.

                              I’ve got a great job!

If you have any comments please post them below.

Ken 

Making The AC More Efficient

Making The AC More Efficient

Air Conditioner Issues

     Recently we have been having some issues with the AC unit kicking out. So I needed to come up with a way to make it through the hot days until we can come up with a permanent plan.

      Let me give you some history. When I first took over the store about 4 years ago the previous owner did not run the air conditioning. The excuse I got was that the landlord would not fix the system. Once I started renovating I approached the landlord about fixing the system so he called in a service tech.
     The furnace and AC were original to the building and around 40? years old.

(This picture is from another unit in the same building). This one is still running.

        They tried to do CPR on the AC outdoor unit but it was not to be. The original system consisted of a 24” square filter opening, about 12” of duct, the propane furnace, the AC coil, about 2 more feet of duct and a vent opening (all in the ceiling).

          Over the next few weeks the AC company stopped by a few times to check the system and do some measurements etc. Their original plan was to install new duct work with distribution around the outsides of the room and use the existing inlet by the dryers and install a new heat pump. But the cost was too high and “the furnace still worked” so the duct work and new AC was installed.

            After a few headaches due to the technicians gauge not being calibrated so the pressures were not right and the AC would kick out on hot days we were cooling.

             The next fall, after I had switched all the dryers to Natural Gas (I’ll cover that fiasco in another post) I called the HVAC company to switch over the furnace. They referred me to a plumber as they didn’t have a propane license. The plumber showed up, said it had originally been gas before it was converted to propane but the company didn’t make the conversion kit anymore so it couldn’t be switched back.

             So I had a propane tank re-installed and spent about $300 on a new pipe from the tank to the furnace.

             After a couple of summers of not being able to keep up with the cooling do to the old furnace not being able to move enough air through the new expanded duct work  and I had had enough of the propane tank I decided to install a new furnace.

             I explained the problems to a HVAC contractor I had used before and said I needed airflow and lots of it. He came up with a price and said he would make it happen.

               The old furnace was removed and a new one installed. As much as it didn’t have the airflow I was hoping, it did manage to move the air through the store and maintain a stable temperature so it was OK. Also the there was no more propane to deal with.

               Now back to the summer AC issues. Once we hit the hot days in the summer we had the AC kick out a couple of times. We change the filters regularly and did miss once which caused a problem. Part of the weekly check list is to turn the power off to the AC unit and hose down the coils to clean out any lint from the dryer vents.

               On the 90+ days we had an issue again. Now the outdoor unit is on the South side of the building so that isn’t helping.

             As you can see in the video I used a temperature sensor (you can by a similar one by clicking here) to check the air coming out of the fan in the outdoor unit.

             A stable 150 degrees F. Too hot to hold your hand over for any length of time.

             Based on my experience in cooling towers and heat transfer I had previously misted water from a hose on to the fins on the side of the AC to help cool the unit so I thought “ Why not something a little more permanent?”

             I tried a soaker hose wrapped around the unit and it dropped the temperature from 150 to 128.

            Once I found that would work I picked up some parts to make it an easier system to use. The parts were from a mini irrigation system from one of the big box stores. The whole system cost less than $25 and is turned on from a spare valve in the store.

            I have also installed an inside/outside thermometer to monitor the duct temperature. The “outside” sensor is in one of the supply vents so if the store temp starts to go up the attendants can see if the AC is keeping up or if the water needs to be turned on to the sprays.

               At this point is not an automatic system and it gets left one occasionally but it only uses about 20 gallons a day. It adds up but in my area water rates are cheaper than power rates and it’s only used about a dozen days a year.

          There are some things to consider if you are looking at this. Unless your water is very pure or filtered impurities will build up on the fins as the water evaporates. It will need to be monitored and cleaned to prevent premature failure of the unit.

   The funny part abuot this building is that the unit my storage and office are in beside the laundry has the newest HAVC in the building and it will blow paper off my desk when it starts.
There is a good chance I will re-duct some of this unit to the laundry and set a separate thermostat about 3 degrees higher then the main one so I can use this unit to support on the hot,busy days.

    Take these lessons from this when you are renovating or negotiating a lease. The cost to run Heat and AC in your laundry can have a big impact on your power / gas bills if they are not sized correctly.

If you have any comments please post them below.

Ken

What you need to be a Top Producer

What you need to be a Top Producer

•The right Attitude •The right Training •The right Mentor •The right Team

•If you are new or a seasoned veteran the same principles apply.

  “If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results.” – Tony Robbins

SELLING

 

  You should always have your focus on money making activities

if you want to achieve financial success and all that comes with it.

 

  FOCUS ONLY ON SELLING.

 

  Focusing on other activities will not help you create influence,

sponsor the star studded leaders, build massive organizations or

help you reach the lifestyle freedom you desire.

 

 

  Have you ever heard of the 80/20 Rule?

 

  It has many applications but our focus here is Money Making

Activities.

  20% of your activities make you 80% of your income.

 

Take some time to review all your daily and weekly activities and 

find the 20%

 

BELIEFS & ATTITUDES

 

  Your inner-beliefs affect your business and when they’re not

serving you, you must change them.

 

  To be a Top Producer you must identify which limiting beliefs

and values are holding you back and

REPLACE THEM WITH POSITIVE BELIEFS AND VALUES

which will enable you to move in a direction that’s going to help

you create results.

 

  “ You are to become a creator, not a competitor: you are going

to get what you want, but in such a way that when you get it

every other man will have more than he has now”.

    “ The Science of Getting Rich” by Wallace D Wattles

 

 

 LEAD CAPTURE PAGES

 

  You can know all there is to know about sales and persuasion,

but if you don’t have anyone to persuade, it won’t really matter.

 

  What you need are people who want what you have to offer…

We’re talking about leads.

 

  And online, you can only collect leads one way…

 

  Lead capture pages, squeeze pages, opt-in pages…

 

  Whatever you call ‘em. These are the most important  online tool

that you MUST know like the back of your hand.

 

MECHANICS & STRATEGY

 

  You make money by selling something and to do that you must

build a list, present to the list and close the list.

 

  The important thing to understand about anything that works is

that

    IT’S NOT THE STRATEGY THAT’S MAKING IT WORK.

 

  The strategy is just a way to make the principle behind what

you’re doing work.

 

  The first step in getting someone to look at a presentation is you

must create rapport and value in order for people to look at

something.

 

    “…people want to be told what’s good and valuable, and that

they enjoy feeling like they’ve been turned on to something not

everyone can appreciate” 

 

                      “Crush It” by Gary Vaynerchuk

 

 

   These are a few of the main steps to building your business,

becoming a Top Producer in your field and living the life that you

want.

 

 

  If you are one of the few that are ready to be a Top Producer

and prepared to do what it takes Click on the link Below.

 

TPF.KenBarrett.us

If you have any comments please post them below.

 

Ken

 

Coin Laundry Payment Systems

Coin Laundry Payment Systems

Paying to do your laundry used to be so simple. You put in the quarters and pressed start. Now there are many methods for payment in Laundromats and more are being developed at a lightning pace.

          The location of your laundry will have some determination on the payment methods used.  A Laundromat in downtown New York is going to have a different clientele than a small town in Kansas. They still have the same basic needs for a Laundromat but some areas are more used to credit and debit and never carry cash.  I was in one of my Laundromats having a discussion about payment systems and mentioned card systems. A customer overheard us talking and said “If I can’t use cash I’ll be going someplace else”. How’s that for honest customer feedback!
But all that being said there are Laundromats in locations all over the country that run successfully with any of these systems and many owners would not change what they have.

Cash

 
          Currently, and possibly always, is King. The denominations are changing as the prices rise but in the US the quarter is still the main method to make a coin operated washer start.
          Many machines are being equipped for dollar coins to reduce the number of coins needed to start the machine and thereby reduce the amount of collections needed.  As shown in another post I have had to modify my coin boxes to allow them to hold more quarters.  It was the best, low cost, quick solution available
          Will dollar coins replace bills in the US like they have in many other countries? It may take awhile but it is probably inevitable. Canada has had $1coins for over 20 years and has recently announced that it has stopped making pennies. Cash transactions are rounded up or down to the nearest nickel but debit and credit transactions are conducted at the exact amount.
     Your customers will usually bring in bills and will need a change machine. As their confidence grows in your machines they amount of quarters customers bring in (and you have to take to the bank) reduces.

Tokens


           Similar concept to using cash.  It has the advantage of keeping the cash out of the public areas as well as being used in promotions and refunds. Coin acceptors are available that can handle quarters, dollars and tokens.  There is an upfront cost to getting the tokens as you may want to have them custom made with your logo and information. The tokens will only work in your store (or stores). There is a replacement cost due to unused tokens but the customer paid you for them already.

Laundry Cards


          These are specific to your store (s).  Money is added through a Value Transfer Station that will accept cash, credit or debit. The amount of the wash or dry is removed from the card when each machine is started. There are some differences between systems that allow you to track and replace the value on lost cards if a customer has added their contact information which also allows you to monitor the activity of your customers and identify the large volume, frequent and long term customers.
     Some stores have used the cards to control access to restrooms and allow After Hours access to the Laundromat.

 

Credit / Debit Cards


          These are being accepted directly at the washers and dryers as well as adding value to the Laundry Cards.  Some systems will still allow coins or tokens to be used as well. They can be added to a few machines at a time and usually connect through a secure, wireless router. This eliminates individual wiring of the machines to the central location and expanding the system requires little effort.

Kiosks
          The washers and dryers are started from a central location and the total amount is paid in cash or by debit or credit card at that location. These are in addition to the normal coin acceptor on the machine so if there is a problem with the kiosk or system the machines can still be run with cash at each location.

Near Field Communication


          Microchips in credit and debit cards and some smart phones transfer the amount of payment when it is in close proximity to the payment device on the washer or dryer. I was recently on a trip to Canada and found these are common on all credit card devices in stores and restaurants. The merchants I used stumbled a little when my US card had to be swiped.

The type of payment method you install will be based on your local area and the amount of investment you have available. This decision is not always given the attention it deserves. Changing payment systems is costly as each piece of equipment must be considered from the biggest washer to the vending and change machines.  The right components installed initially may allow changes without complete replacement.
If you have or are purchasing an existing store that has a variety of machines from different manufacturers and years it may be difficult to convert everything to a particular system.

Other factors will include if you or your staff are comfortable emptying cash from the individual washers or if you want to keep all of the cash in a secure area.
Does your customer base use debit or credit cards?
Will you be offering a Drop Off Service where your attendants will need to start the same washers and dryers as the customers? 

Integrated payment systems provide an almost unlimited amount of business monitoring and feedback. You will be able to determine the busiest times in your store, what machines are used the most and other information that will assist in future planning.
Additional features allow prices to be changed based on day of week and time of day so you can offer lower prices on slow days , traditionally Tuesday and Wednesday. This allows seniors and others with flexible time to be moved away from your busy times and be compensated for it.
Customers can also be given discounts or bonuses when they add value to their card. For example if they add $100 to their card $120 is put on. This secures your customer for an additional amount of time using your store and they receive a benefit.
One concern with this system is the operation of your store is dependent on the system operating.  At an attended store you may be able to train your staff to reset and/ or troubleshoot the system but at an unattended store you will need to deal with it when it happens.  

Cards and tokens do provide the benefit of allowing you to offer prizes and other benefits in an unattended store.

P.S. If you would like information on Blog system and how to use it in your business CLICK HERE

If you have any comments please post them below.

Ken

” Social Media Overload” by Corey Perlman – Review

     I just finished reading the new book ” Social Media Overload” by Corey Perlman and I’m a little frustrated.
Let me explain. I have been following Corey for a few years. I first saw him at a presentation put on by a local Dale Carnegie chapter in Birmingham ,Al. I had recently opened a business and was trying the learn how to market and promote. I saw the ad for the one day course and it seemed like a great start.

     The presentation was excellent and I picked up a copy of Corey’s first book, Eboot Camp and some other materials he had available. That was the beginning of my adventures in social media from a marketer standpoint and not just a consumer.

     Over the next few years I read various parts of his posts and slowly put things together. I remember when I was challenged to get over 500 contacts on LinkedIn. at the time I had about 50 and thought there was no way I could even make it to 200. Currently I am well past the 500 target and many are local business people or contacts in my industry throughout the country.
 

         The past couple of years my interest in digital marketing has increased but like many businesses I was all over the place with no real plan. I would make some videos and then blog posts and share them everywhere. Other times there would be gaps and no consistency.

           When “Social Media Overload” came out I bought it the first day. The timing was great as I was going to be traveling for a couple of days and it involved flying and not driving. This was  rare for me.

     The book arrived and it went in the travel pile.

      Once on the plane I was deep into it and as I read through I started to see some of the issues with my current directions and programs.

       Sometimes you need someone else to tell you what you already know for it to make sense. I put a lot of value into the design and efficiency of websites I visit to get information or purchase products but I didn’t feel my own websites were that valuable to my brick and mortar business so they just sit there with a bunch of basic information on a boring layout. These updates are long overdue and have moved up the list.

          The explanation of Title Tags and how they can make such a difference on searches is also something that I see and used everyday on other sites and yes it does affect when links I will click on.

                   In another part of my business I have been way off.  I should be ” Fishing where the fish are” but after some thought I realized I have been hunting for fish in the forest and not even near a riverbank.

                   So why am I so frustrated after reading the book? As I mentioned I read it while flying to visit friends and family for a couple of days and aside for a couple of quick email checks on my iPad at the hotel I had no phone or wifi access.

                   Once I land I have another short driving trip planned for a couple of days and then I’ll be able to put this information to work.


      I may have one of the kids read the book to me while I drive so I can work on a plan in my mind.

Here’s the link.      Get the book.

If you have any comments please post them below.

Ken