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Ancillary Profit Centers

Episode 3- Ancillary Profit Centers in Laundromats

Episode 3

Ancillary Profit Centers In Laundromats

 Should you offer ancillary profit centers in your Laundromat?

     Ancilliary profit centers are any item or service you offer that is outside of the basic washers and dryers.

     These centers could be soap sales, snacks, drinks, Drop Off Laundry Service, tanning, video games and many others.

     As a business owner you need to determine what other profit centers would work well in your store, what benefits your customers experience and is there truly a profit.

     To determine your profit you need to include all of the costs from time spent ordering items to the power used by the equipment.

      According to the Coin Laundry Association, 96% of the coin laundries in the United States offer some type of ancillary service

Extra Profit Centers: Statistics


The ancillary services above are ranked by the percentage of coin laundries that offer the service


      Before adding any additional product or service in your business ask the basic questions:

     – Is this a want or need for my customers?

     – What is the total cost to implement and maintain?

     – Do I have the ability (manpower, space, time) to implement and maintain?

     – Is there a way to outsource the product or service?

     – Is this venturing too far out of my original business plan?


         Many investors in Laundromats are looking for a business that requires a limited amount of time, inventory and headaches.

     If this provided value for you please comment and share below.


Ken Barrett
800-792-1941 ext 2

Episode 2- Are There Still Opportunities To Own A Laundromat

Episode 2

 Are There Still Opportunities To Own A Laundromat


     One question that comes up a lot from people interested in owning a coin laundry is if there are still opportunities out there. The answer is Yes.

      In 2009 and 2010 there were laundries in some areas that closed down and the equipment was repossessed. There were a number of factors that led to this including easy money from loan companies, many distributors selling equipment due to the easy money, and what was a good location turned bad due to the economic issues and movement of transitional workers.

     Many Laundromats survived as they were in good financial shape and were able to withstand the fluctuating markets.

     So where does that leave us now. Some areas have seen some new Laundromats open and existing Laundromats have made some upgrades or are just running how they have been for years.

     Areas throughout the country still do not have Laundromats available within a reasonable distance. These may be in smaller towns but in these cases the rent rates will be very reasonable as some landlords may have been years without a tenant. In the smaller towns adding a laundromat to an existing business may be a great opportunity.
      Previously Laundromats added other revenues streams such as tanning beds, increased vending and video games. Maybe it’s time to add a laundromat to a convenience store to increase the customer base and allow a small laundromat to be profitable.

     Hundreds of Laundromats around the country are running to the end of their lifespan. Although there really isn’t much of a business to buy as the equipment is probably old and even unusable you may be able to take over the lease and renovate, add new equipment and build the business back to what it once was.
In some cases it may take a small amount to buy out the existing owner but it never hurts to ask. Renovating an existing laundry could save over $30,000 in buildout costs over an empty building.

     And what about all those foreclosed stores? It’s been a number of years since they closed and it’s possible the demographics have changed and a store would be viable again. And remember the stores that survived in the area might not have made any changes once the competition was gone so they are older and possibly run down now.

     There are still opportunities to open a Coin Laundry and as they say in Real Estate it’s all about location, location, location.
Get the demographics, check out your competition and do your homework. The opportunity may be closer than you think.

      If you have any comments please post them below.

Community Theatre Support and Advertising


     Last year during a Chamber of Commerce event I saw some flyers for a local community theater. They were offering season tickets for the upcoming shows.
As I looked at the flyer I turned to my accountant that was also there and asked if I could write it off as entertainment. Her response was it would be better as an advertising expense.


            A couple of weeks later I contacted the theater group, CAST – Community Actors’ Studio Theatre, about tickets. During our discussion I found that they have another brochure that is for advertisers.

            The advertising package contains various sized spots in the programme ranging from a 1/4 page business card up to a full page or the back cover. There is also information and links put on their website and some levels provide additional advertising at the event, on banners and other flyers.

            But the best part is that it includes seasons tickets to the shows.

             I have seen many live theatre performances that vary from local groups, improv and full Broadway productions. The list includes Miss Saigon, Showboat, Lion King,  and many others. It has been a number of years since I had been to any.  

           One that caught my eye when I was looking at the flyer was “Oklahoma”, although I didn’t remember too much about it I do remember when I was a kid going with my Grandparents and an Uncle out for a spaghetti dinner and to see the live show in a small theatre. It was an experience that I wanted to share with my own teenagers.

          The other part I liked was that they were performing many recognizable shows including Spamalot,  The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, A Christmas Carol, and The complete works of William Shakespeare (abridged).

           After a great season of shows and only one we could not make due to Show Choir and Dance competitions it was time for this season.

           There was no hesitation about this years’ advertising. They have a great line up of performances this year.

            Now to some lessons learned that you can take forward. When I met to put the ads in last year we were very rushed to put them together and get them in the first programme. Due to my delay we were almost sliding the card into the press during printing. I used a post card that I had made previously with the store information and some background graphics. 

             Once I got to the first show and was looking for my ad in the program I realized that the program was black and white and I actually turned the page past my own ad as it was mostly grey due to the background image.


 But it was actually closer to this size in the programme


              Always on the lookout for better marketing methods I started looking at the other ads to see what worked well. As it turns out one of the most noticeable smaller sized ads was for a pest control company. A very simple 1/4 page ad put in vertically Logo, Bugs listed, Location, Phone number. 

           They covered it in about 4 lines. This is who we are, this is what we do, here’s where we are, here’s how to contact us. Boom. Drop The Mic.

             I also realized that I needed to target the potential customer that will be holding the programme. A simple ad for a Coin Laundry may bring back bad memories of their first apartment or a college laundromat.

             At this point we are still working on the layout of the new ad but it will be black and white.  Logo, What we do, Where we are and how to get a hold of us.

          My thoughts right now are:

Your Comforter Cleaning Headquarters
Drop it off and let us do the work”

1304 Greenbrier Rd, Anniston, AL

            I would love your thoughts on a catchy ad and to hear about other non-traditional ads you have run.

 I’ll see you at the show



      I was at the first show last week with my wife, two daughters and two of their friends and found our ad in the program. Much better than last year and a better placing on the page.


            On another note my daughters and their friends had a fantastic time. They are all 15 and when ever I glanced over it was great to see them so focused on the show.                 Exposing kids and teens to live theatre has an impact you may not see for years but with the cost of a local show about the same price as a movie and snacks I’ll take the support of local talent any day. And who knows maybe your kids will see someone at the Academy Awards one day and be able to say they saw them at a local theatre “back in the day“. 



Planet Laundry Letting Go Cover

Outsourcing- An Update – Planet Laundry Magazine Article

Outsourcing- An Update – Planet Laundry Magazine

        As I mentioned in a previous post about a recent vacation I have been working on outsourcing many of the functions of my Laundromats.

         The unattended Laundromats are not too bad as things are pretty consistent but the partially attended Coin Laundry is much more dynamic. There are many more items to consider such as payroll, shifts, holidays, inventory and stocking of vending machines and Drop Off supplies.

         Add to all of the this the normal bookkeeping, payroll taxes and various other forms and reports there is a lot going on.

         As I was setting things in place for the vacation I was approached by the Coin Laundry Association magazine, Planet Laundry, about and article on outsourcing.

Here is the main part of the article.


Is Outsourcing the Way to Grow Your Laundry Business… and Get Your Life Back?

            Being an entrepreneur, you clearly enjoy wearing several different hats. In fact, the very minute you opened your store, you probably took on a dozen or more jobs all at once.                  All laundry operators – and small-business owners, in general – occasionally feel like “I am the business!” However, it also stands to reason that you might not handle all of those business-related tasks equally well. What’s more, it’s dangerous for a growing operation to run this way for too long. You will surely fail to maintain the business over time, not to mention you can lose touch with your family… and your sanity.

                   “I wanted the flexibility this industry provides, but I found that, over the past year or so, I was falling into a ‘job’ mentality and just doing all the work,” said Ken Barrett, a laundry owner in Anniston, Ala. “Recently, I’ve been expanding to other projects and started running out of time for the laundromats and my family. I had fallen into the ‘Superman Syndrome,’ which affects most entrepreneurs. You’re afraid of releasing control, because you feel no one else can do it as well as you can. As it turns out, other people can do many things better and faster.”

                    Barrett is among a growing number of laundry owners who have looked to outsourcing to more effectively build their businesses. (The term “outsourcing” is sometimes confused with simply adding staff to handle daily tasks. This article will examine outsourcing as the practice of hiring independent individuals or firms from outside your business.)

                  Taking the first steps toward outsourcing can be time-consuming, but figuring out how to build your business with help from outside professionals can offer increased efficiencies and economies of scale.

                   “Progressive entrepreneurs realize the unstoppable power of outsourcing to handle aspects of their business that are essential, but simply don’t make sense for them to deal with personally,” said David Walsh, an entrepreneur and author of “Source Control,” an e-book on effective small-business outsourcing. “Small business, augmented by a global pool of human capital, can compete directly with the biggest players in their space, and win.”

What to Outsource

    Chances are you’re already outsourcing some business tasks, such as payroll administration or background/criminal checks for employment. These days, almost any task can be outsourced, with many qualified professionals leaving the corporate world to work as freelancers or contractors. However, just because you can outsource a task doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

             “Don’t outsource something just because you don’t want to do it,” explained Jim Lanzalotto, principal at Scanlon Louis, a marketing and strategic outsourcing company. “Sometimes there are things you don’t want to do but they are important to your core business.”

             Consider what non-core activities you might be able to outsource. This will help you stop doing things you hate doing (and are probably not that good at), and it will free up your time to focus on the things at which you excel. Leverage the talents of others, rather than trying to do it all by yourself – after all, your time is most valuable asset.

Here are some of the most commonly outsourced small-business tasks:

                 Marketing: Marketing is the fuel of a small business. Your marketing efforts tie directly to your sales results. You can outsource your marketing efforts to a consultant or public relations specialist. Some marketing professionals will help you create an overall advertising and marketing strategy, develop downloadable content for your website, conduct email marketing campaigns, and pitch the media on your business.

                  Payroll: Unless you run an accounting firm, you shouldn’t be doing your own payroll. You can get in trouble faster with the IRS for not paying your payroll taxes properly than not paying personal income taxes. If you hire an outsourcing company to do your payroll, you can rest assured that you and your staff will have no issue when income tax season rolls around at the beginning of each year.

                  Social Media Marketing: There are plenty of marketing consultants and social media marketing agencies that can handle developing social media strategy, content development and social promotion for your laundry business. Just remember that social media is a long-term strategy, so be prepared to invest 12 to 24 months to achieve your goals.

                  Bookkeeping: Bookkeeping is the number one task that small-business owners routinely neglect and struggle with managing in their operations. Don’t let this happen to your laundry business. By the 15th of the month, you should know how well your business did last month so that you can make any adjustments. By outsourcing your basic accounting services to a seasoned bookkeeper, you will have the ability to use updated financial information to run your laundry.

                Administrative Support: Utilizing “virtual assistants” is a cost-effective way to get routine tasks handled. You can use a virtual assistant for maintaining your personal schedule, database, preparing mailings, email newsletters, blog maintenance, invoicing, and voicemail and email management. You can even leverage a niche-focused virtual assistant to do bookkeeping and receipt management.

Of course, within the self-service laundry business, equipment maintenance and repair also are at the top of the outsourcing list. …..

Ken Barrett
Washin Anniston
Washin Golden Springs
Anniston, Ala.

                       I outsource my bookkeeping. My accountant has a laptop at her office, which I supplied. This allows my files and programs to be separate from her other activities. The list of responsibilities includes:

•    Confirming attendant times remotely in the time clock.

•    Importing the times into QuickBooks.

•    Running payroll every Friday – direct deposit and emailed paystubs eliminate the need to deliver anything to the employees.

•    Payment of all state and federal taxes.

•    Logging into the bank and adding comments to all transactions.

•    Downloading all transactions to QuickBooks.

•    Providing a weekly report of any attendant late clock-ins or any other abnormalities.

•    Reconciling bank statements monthly.

•    The next step will be to change the mailing address of the utility bills to her office so that they can make the payments directly from the bank.

                  My bookkeeper also handles my refund program. I scan all of the paper refund slips into a DropBox account, as well as any voice messages. The bookkeeper adds all of the information into a spreadsheet and checks for excess refunds to one name or specific address. When I stop by, I sign the checks and they get mailed out.

                  Doing the simple, day-to-day tasks requires little effort, and it’s easy to fall into a routine and forget why you got into this business in the first place.

Finding the Right Partners

               Before handing over the reins, be sure you’re working with the right partner. A good starting place is your own network; ask other laundry owners – or your accountant, lawyer or banker – if they can recommend a provider offering the services you need. Online networks like LinkedIn also make it easy to expand your personal networks and to ask for recommendations.

              In the absence of a good recommendation from a friend or acquaintance, professional associations or trade groups often can recommend the right partner for your needs. In addition, a number of online services – such as oDesk, BidModo and eLance – service as virtual marketplaces for contractors and business owners to connect and begin working relationships.

              Whether you use a web-based marketplace, a personal referral, or a personalized matchmaking consultant, the key to identifying the right contractor is to know exactly what you’re looking for.

Reaping the Benefits

                Although there are risks, outsourcing ultimately offers laundry owners great advantages. The process allows you to build a team of skilled professionals without adding the expense of full-time employees, and to avoid getting bogged down with tasks that can be completed without your attention. It’s an affordable, proven strategy for growing your business without letting it take over your life.

                Stop making yourself crazy by trying to do everything at your store. If you outsource just a couple of business functions, outsourcing can pay for itself in no time. Do your research, check their references and ask for referrals from fellow laundry owners before hiring anyone. Once you start outsourcing a few non-critical tasks in your business, you may wonder why it took you so long to do it.

                 “Outsourcing is frustrating, difficult, tiring, time consuming – and the best thing you can do to grow your business,” Barrett said. “You may actually be what’s getting in the way.”

                   “Is there a task that I wouldn’t outsource? Yes, being the visionary and driving force of the business and deciding how I want to spend my time.”

             I hope this helps provide some insight into the “behind the scenes” operation of my stores.

              Stay tuned as I work through the various parts of the outsourcing in detail.
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 The original article can be found HERE

A Step Back in Laundromat Time

A Step Back in Laundromat Time

        “You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!”


         I took a tour through a random Laundromat in Alabama. 98% of the equipment and other items in the store had not changed in 40+ years.


           The store is still being used regularly and the equipment was all working. When I was there on a Wednesday morning there was always someone using the store.


             I can only imagine how many people have read the signs over the years, or have ignored the signs and the amount of snacks that have been run through the vending machine.


P.S Don’t forget to check out for products and services you can use in your business.

Speed Queen Single Pocket Dryer

Random Laundromat Review

Random Laundromat Review

     As I travel around I stop at various Laundromats to see how they are doing and to get some ideas.

   This Laundromat needed some repairs and was missing a key piece of equipment. Can you spot it?




Back From Vacation- Whatever That Means

Back From Vacation- Whatever That Means

For the past 12 days I have been on a National Lampoon family vacation around parts of Canada and the Eastern US.

We left home in Alabama and spent the night at the in-laws in Indiana and then off to Alliston, Ontario to visit my parents and celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday.


    After a few days there we headed to Toronto for the July 1st Canada Day holiday. Toronto is a great city and even through  I parked in the wrong spot when we went to check out Allen Gardens and walked past a homeless shelter I felt some concern but no fear. They seemed more concerned about the guy with a light then the tourist family walking by.

        It was a good lesson for my daughters about keeping your eyes open and looking way up the street when you walk. We did take a different route back to the car.


         We tried to hit a variety of the tourist spots downtown including China Town, Eaton Center, Kensington Market, Distillery District and the Harbour Front.


           The family pass for the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) is a great value on weekends and holidays. For $11.50 we had unlimited access for the entire day for all four of us so we made sure we hit the subway, street cars and buses.


              A cool expedition was  a boat tour of Toronto Harbour. I had taken the ferry to the islands before and been on a couple of tours with the larger boats but the small boat and tour guide gave a different perspective. Use the Groupon for a discount on tickets


            Next stop was the Butterfly Park, Niagara Falls and an awesome room overlooking the falls.


          It was only an overnight stop but always neat to see and something the kids will remember.


             Hershey Pennsylvania was the next stop for some rides at the park (go after 5pm for the Sunset Price). We toured the Hershey Museum the next day and headed for Chocolate World but due to a light rain it was the attraction of the day so we bought some souvenirs and headed to DC.

           On the way we made a stop at Gettysburg and walked around for awhile trying to grasp what had happened there. I had been there years ago when they had the old tower by the cemetery so I was trying to remember the places I saw before.  The rain and sore feet made this a quick stop and we continued to DC to catch the July 4th Fireworks. We had a spot on the Memorial Bridge that had a good view and easy access to the Metro for the return trip.


            The first subway on the way home was jammed and we couldn’t get on but the second, although full got a few more people on when I spoke up and said ” We all want to get home surely there is a little more room, please keep moving”. I stopped short of the Japanese style of physically pushing people in although I think the kids were secretly hopping I would.


   It must have been a good party on the Mall as this is what we found the next day. But actually they are installing irrigation, rain water collection and some new grass. Completion time? Early 2017.


   A walk past the White House… 


One more day in DC included the Natural History Museum, American History Museum, lunch at the cafe and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

     Although it was hot, a long walk and we were tired with sore feet it was still worth it to witness firsthand the dedication, commitment and discipline of the Guards. Once at the tomb even the kids realized it was a time to be quiet. There was one little peep out of  a baby and the required kicking over of an empty water bottle, twice, but still a moving moment to see the lone guard and then the changing of the guard.


             Back on the road the next morning for one of the few long drive days to Pigeon Forge TN and a night at the Inn at Christmas Place. Yes it seems a little hokey at first but once you are there it’s hard not too smile. And don’t forget to take an “elfie” with Santa.


            It was Popcorn and Movie Night at the pool so after some trips down the water slide and some coaching of the young kids on how to go fast (keep your suit material off the slide, lay down and slide on your heels and shoulders) we dried off and gathered around the inflatable screen for a viewing of the Polar Express. I had only seen this movie for the first time last Christmas and was surprised at how much of a fun movie it is. The breeze blowing when the  train was headed down the hills was a nice effect as well.

              Breakfast and a quick tour through Gatlinburg and it was time to head home. Well there was a quick stop at Unclaimed Baggage to check on some school clothes for the girls.

    This is why I own Laundromats. Stay tuned for information on how I was able to put my business on Auto-Pilot and be gone for 12 days.