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Cloud Based Phone System

Cloud Based Phone System



               A number of years ago when I was opening my business I wanted to get a phone number that I could have some control over. As I was opening Laundromats and wanted to a) Project a professional business image and b) have a number I could post in the store for customers to contact me about any concerns.

I did not want to post my cell phone number for a couple of reasons.

#1 was to maintain some control and privacy.

#2 was to be able to send the call to my cell, another phone or even another business location.

#3 Create a local presence wherever I want to do business. Get a local phone number.

I did some searching and found RingCentral.

It l provided all of the features I needed, and many more.

        One advantage was the option to purchase a vanity number. I was able to get a 1-800 number that allows calls to and from the service anywhere in Canada or the US as part of the plan. With friends, family and business contacts still in Canada this was a great feature. Also if I am in Canada I can pick up a phone at anyone’s house and return a call or check on my businesses.

               I have set my phone up with a number of extensions, although in some cases more than one number goes to my cell phone I am able to make changes if I am headed out of town.

            Callers have the option of talking to an attendant on one of the stores, contact someone in case of an equipment emergency (power outage, water leak etc), or request a refund.
            The Refund line explains about the drop boxes at the stores and how they can use any piece of paper if there are no forms available. The information required is Name, Address, Phone, Problem, Machine Number and amount of Refund. It will also direct them to the website so they can sub,it it through a Google Form.

                 And last but not least is my extension. People calling me from an email or business card can hit my extension right away but being at the end has reduced the number of calls from people that just want to go into detail about a problem even though they may have already moved their items to another machine.



 Check it out Here and I hope it will work for you as well

Ken

 

Ethos Pathos Logos

Episode 7 – The Art of Persuasion: Ethos, Pathos & Logos

Episode 7

The Art of Persuasion: Ethos, Pathos & Logos

Some interesting things I learned today.

                I was driving to a Big Box store awhile ago for supplies for my Laundromat and somehow I made a comment that involved the phrase “Supersized”. My daughter mentioned that she had watched that movie as part of a class assignment on Ethos, Pathos and Logos.

Ethos (Ethics)

Pathos (Emotion)

Logos (Logic)

I will admit that I had no idea what she was talking about.

            It’s not often that the kids can stump me on subject matter, maybe on some details of how to do math problems or American History (I’m not one of y’all yet) but spitting out terms I had never heard and being able to explain them. The horror!

           So after a quick explanation of what they meant I handed over my iPhone and asked her to review one of my videos.

          She listened to a bit and hit pause and she said “That part was Logos because you are an expert and you are providing proof of what you have done”

           A little bit more of the video and another pause, ” This part is Ethos because you are making me feel that you have confidence that I can do this too”

          The clouds opened and birds began to sing……OK maybe not.

            Many people struggle with making videos, myself included and even people that have done lots of them will tell you there are times they stumble a little, but if you speak the truth and from the heart it will come through in your message.

          The video she was reviewing was about me realizing I had reached one of my goals and how I had set a plan in place and was making it happen.

And I DO believe that you can do it too.

If you found some value please, Like, Comment and Share

Play Safe

Ken

Drop Off Lockers

Drop Off Lockers

      One of my stores is Partially Attended and has a Drop Off , Wash / Dry / Fold Service. The Self Serve part of the store is open 24 hours a day and the attendants are there from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm.

      The store is attended 7 days a week but closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and some other national holidays (it usually depends on the day of the week the holiday falls on and if all the employees want the day off. For example if July 4th is on a Saturday or Sunday they will usually take the day off. We also close early on Christmas Eve as it gets very slow in the afternoon and everyone, including the employees, want to get things done.

      Occasionally we had comments from customers about not being able to drop their clothes off before work. Also some employees arrive 15 or 20 minutes before their shift starts in the morning and others are about 5 minutes. Another concern was contractors that may not be able to get back by 6 pm and were leaving town that evening or the next day.So I started looking for ways to help out these customers.

      One idea was a type of Laundry Chute but this had more cons than pros. To be big enough for a laundry bag, a child or small adult could also fit. When I was a kid a friend of mine got into the Post Office through the package drop slot. It was more of a challenge than anything and answering to your parents when the police dropped you off was the worst part.

      Also there was the concern of trash or liquids being dropped in and damaging the clothes.

      I considered using Laundry Locker an internet based remote locker system but we only needed a couple of lockers and it was right in the store.

      Next was a search on eBay for some lockers. as some of us may remember there used to be various sized lockers in bus and train stations and airports but most have been removed. I did find a guy that had a warehouse full of large lockers from an airport that were in really great shape and big enough to hold a laundry basket but again I only needed a couple and the cost of the lockers and shipping was too much.

      More searching and I found the lockers shown in the pictures. They actually came as a set of 6. 3 top and 3 bottoms, and were bolted all together but the price was right. I had them shipped to a trucking warehouse a couple of blocks from the store. I used the trucking company to have them shipped so they agreed to give me a little floor space to taken them apart so I could move them.

 

      I ended up with the two to start with and I have the other four in my office. As they were all connected I would need to add an end section to use them separately or I could bolt them all together again into a bank of 6.

      The next step- The lockers were designed to put a padlock on the handle which was not going to work.  More internet searching and I found some quarter operated locks from the Taiwan Lock Company. The locks were about $22 each , I ordered 3, in case I messed one up.  They were shipped by Fed-Ex air. This cost about the same as the locks.

 

      As you may have gathered from some of my other posts I sometimes do the work myself and have a variety of tools so I did the lock installation my self. You could source this to a local welding or machine shop as I do with some other items.

      Once the locks were in and the painting touched up I put them to use.

      A couple of weeks ago I asked my attendants if they were being used and they said they do have some regular customers that use them every week.

      We also have a procedure where a customer can pay at Drop Off and take a key with them so they can pick up their clothes after hours. The Attendant Steps are all covered in the Operation Standards Available Here.

This has been a great convenience item for our customers. 

 

 Let me know if you have any Drop Off Lockers and where they came from.

Ken

Episode 6- I Have A Location, Now What?

Episode 6

I Have A Location, Now What?

   So you have a location for your laundromat but what are the next steps?

     I’ll skip over the distributor in this article as we have covered that previously or you can send me an email and we can get things set up. Ken@WashinCoinLaundry.com

     There are a few items that you can look into. You should check on cost, time to implement and application forms.

      – Business Name- Personally I set mine up with a Generic Brand that I can use in different locations. All of my stores are “Washin __________ Coin Laundry” I add the location and use separate LLC’s. This is part of a long term strategy of building a chain and being able to sell in part or as a whole. In the past many laundries were named as the street or “Bob’s Laundry” or had no name at all.  Branding is part of business so think about it early.

 

     – LLC – Name and Doing Business As (DBA)- Talk to a local Attorney about the corporate stucture and set it up early so you can get the bank accounts in place.
 

     Accountant- You may not need one right away but if you have the time it’s good to get things setup and understand the costs involved. 

     -Building Permits and Zoning-
This is normally my first stop once I have a location.- Confirm the zoning is approved for this use.- Check requirements and cost for  Building Permit. Also any requirements for restrooms, exit lights, etc.- Check on what inspections will be required. Normally the contractors will contact the Building Inspector when they are ready but it’s good to know so nothing gets overlooked.  

– Business License- Cost

– Utilities-

     Water- 
-Confirm size of water supply and sewer lines and determine if cahnges need to be made. The Engineering Department will need to review and approve any changes so the time required for approval needs to be understood.

     Sewer-
– Some areas will have an Impact Fee that is charged for each machine that will be connected to the sewer. This can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands or dollars per machine. This amount may change in neighboring communities.
 

     Deposits- Check if a deposit will be required. Some require a couple of months use as a deposit and other cities are more. Usually a Bond can be used to cover this. I used my insurance company but there are other companies as well. For one of my stores I was required to provide a $1,000 cash deposit that they hold as long as the business is running.

     Gas-
– Check on requirements to install a larger line and meter if needed. I have not had to pay for this but it may be different in your area. Laundries are a year round consumer so gas companies tend to be happy to hook them up. There is also a High Pressure and Low Pressure setup. Low Pressure requires larger piping in the store but is a dirrect connection. High Pressure has smaller piping but requires a regulator on each piece of equipment. This can add $50- $75 to each dryer and water heater.
– Check on deposit required.

    -Power- Same as above items- Check on deposits and costs of required feed if an increase is needed. 

Scheduleing of the above items can have a big impact on your startup. Some areas may be able to do the work in a week or two, other may need much longer to schedule.

     Cable / Internet / Phone- Price local companies and check contracts. These are optional services but make a big difference to customers. If all of the other Laundromants have internet and you don’t people will drive past your store.

     Security- I used SimpliSafe on one of my stores. It’s easy to install and reasonably priced. I also have some of the large companies at my other stores. I prefer to purchase the equipment up front and avoid long term contracts. You may have local companies that offer cameras/ security etc but be careful of the contracts and monthly cost. There is the advantage of someone else setting it up and fixing any issues.

     Insurance- You will need to know a lot more details before you can apply but you could determine who you are going to use. I use the CLA (Coin Laundry Association) Insurance. You may have a local agent that can provide insurance. http://www.coinlaundry.org/membership/laundry-insurance/ 

     Contractor- If you have one already you may want to talk to them and see if they can handle everything.This will include- Electrical, Plumbing, Ductwork, Gas, plus general demolition, framing and finishing of new walls, adding intake vents for dryer air, ceiling tiles, flooring, painting etc.

      And in your spare time you may want to take a load of towels and visit a few other laundromats. Run them through the wash / dry cycle and look around the store to see what you like and don’t like. It gives you a chance to talk to people and/or attendants and find out what they like. 

     Back at the top I made a comment about Branding. That also includes the colors in your store and some of the features. I have common colors that can be found in each store and although they are not exactly the same layouts or styles people recognize they are part of the same company.

If you have any comments please post them below.

Ken

Baby Change Station Installation

Baby Change Station Installation

Many times I have thought about installing a Baby Change Station in the Laundromat Restroom but I was usually at another store and that’s about as far as it got.

After a recent discussion I decided it was time to make it happen.

I headed to Amazon and ordered on that was there in a couple of days. Inside the box, on the box, in the instructions and anywhere else you can think of are disclaimers about proper installation. I will add my own as well that this video shows the steps and tools I used but I am not endorsing nor saying this is the right or best way to install this piece of equipment.

That being said it wasn’t that hard of a job with the right tools. I had a block wall to mount it to which, although a little more difficult and you need a hammer drill, provides a very solid attachment.

Here is the link to the one that I bought and a couple of options.

 

 

The video steps through a few of the key points.

As I mentioned I put this into a block wall. Inside the box is a full size template that you attache to the wall to locate the bolt holes.

 

Once the holes were in I used a Heavy Duty anchor that I bought a a big box hardware store.

 

This type is pretty easy to use and based on the rating I felt it would hold the load.

 

Once the mounting bracket is installed it’s just a few more steps and it’s done.

 

 

Hope this helps.

Ken

P.S. As I mentioned many times this is only a suggestion and please use your own knowledge and judgement and hire a professional if needed.

NFIB

Episode 5 – Small Business Checklist: Scouting Out a Location

Episode 5

Small Business Checklist: Scouting Out a Location

 

Recently I was asked to contribute to an article about what to look for when scouting a location. 

         A Laundromat is a destination location, meaning that our customers will look for one when they need it and it will not be an impulse buy, but having the right location and property features have as much of an impact as the interior layout of the washers and dryers.

         Some of the features I look for in my businesses and others should consider when scouting out a location are:

        Parking- How long will a typical customer stay in your business and any other businesses sharing the same parking areas. 
       Will you loose too many spots due to lineups in other businesses? 
        How do your hours of operation and busy times compare with the other businesses?

        Street Location and Access- Many corner lots are already taken by Gas Stations, Pharmacies or Fast Food. These are prime locations and probably out of the budget for new businesses. 
        One of the next best locations would be on the right hand side of a busy street just past a Stop Light. This allows your customers time to look at your sign and business while they are waiting at the light. 
         Two entrances ( one at each end of the lot) is beneficial as it allows a second chance if they miss the first one. 
          Is it a divided road with limited areas to turn Left or turn around?

        Supporting Businesses-  Are the businesses in the same building or neighboring buildings going to provide support, competition or be neutral? 
        Will your Teen Clothing Boutique be sharing a strip mall with a Tattoo Parlor, Auto Parts Store and Discount Hardware store? Locating beside a Hair and Nail Salon, Shoe Store and Coffee Shop / Bakery would complement the other businesses and reach a common demographic.

         Visibility- If someone is driving how hard will it be to find your store?
 Can the front of your store and your sign be easy seen and read / understood? Also will your customers be able to see inside the business from the street or parking lot to determine if they have the right place and if they want to go inside?              

         Consider when you flip through a magazine or a website, if you do not see something that interests you at a glance are you going to continue looking? 
         If you have a specialty business and your customers are looking for your location specifically it might not have an effect but will you be losing “drive by” traffic.

        Tenant Improvements- Is the Landlord willing to provide improvements to the location or waive some lease payments in lieu of changes to the location? For example if the building needs new lighting will this be covered by the landlord to your specifications or will they install generic lighting that you will remove or replace.

         Utilities- Are there adequate utilities available for your business? Power, water, sewer and gas may be available but is there enough capacity. The cost and time to increase any of these could be substantial.  
        Also who would be responsible for the cost in the interior and exterior to relocate the connections. Other considerations are Cable, Internet and Phone service.

        Lighting: Is there adequate lighting to provide a safe environment at night and who is responsible to install, maintain and pay for the operation.

        Planning / Zoning– Is the area zoned for your type of business. Are there restrictions for lighting, signs (size and location), ADA requirements, parking times, hours of operation.

        Trash- Will your business require a dumpster, Can it be shared by other businesses, Where will it be located? How often will you need to access it and what will be your daily amount of trash? Will it need to be covered? Is recycling required?

        Deliveries- What size of a truck will make your deliveries and possibly pickups? Is there access? Do you need a loading dock? How far away will the driver need to park? Are there restrictions on the delivery times due to other businesses or city by-laws.
 

        As part of your due diligence and business planning make check lists of Musts and Wants and use it as a reference when looking for locations. 

         Here is the link to the article on the NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business) site. 

 

     Other contributors to the article were:
Tanya Keefe
, co-owner of Sense-sational Therapy in Fort Gratiot, Michigan;
Walt Batansky, a site selection consultant with Avocat Group in Tampa, Florida;
Hope Gibbs, founder of PR and publishing firm The Inkandescent Group in Richmond, Virginia; and
Kevin Hoult, a business adviser services manager in Bellingham, Washington.

 

Please Comment, Like and Share if you got some value from this.

If you have any comments, please post them below.

 

Ken

Equipment Cleaning

Laundromats are a tough place to keep clean sometimes and it’s easy to overlook items that get a little grungy over time. Sometimes you need to stop and look at the store like a new customer would.

 

               I noticed a couple of my washers were getting a little run-down looking. With the soap, bleach and water being splashed on the tops and fronts it was time for a cleaning.

Finding the right cleaner can be a challenge as well.

              I read recently about a product called Barkeepers Friend so I thought I would give it a shot.

 

             It can be found in a lot of stores so I went to my local big box building store and using their app found the location of the cleaners. I picked up the dry and soft scrubs so I could see the difference.

             After leaving them in my other car the first time and not having the time to use them on the next trip I finally combined the trip, time and cleaner to the same day and headed at a couple of washers.

           It did take a bit of rubbing in some spots but overall they came up great. When I was finished a used a stainless spray cleaner to put a slight coating over the stainless to help keep the water and detergent from sticking.

 This picture shows the left washer that has been cleaned with Barkeepers Friend

 

Both of these have been cleaned. The one on the right has been sprayed with a regular stainless steel Cleaner/ Protectant. It leaves a slightly oily feel so it needs to be rubbed with a dry cloth. 

( I didn’t clean the coin boxes)