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Episode 52 – The Golden Washboard Awards with Todd Fener

The Golden Washboard Awards with Todd Fener




There are many Trade Shows and Open Houses around the US and other areas for Laundromat Owners but some take a different approach. Today we talk with Todd Fener of Laundry Owners Warehouse and learn about the history and the recipients of the Golden Washboard Awards.

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2017 Marketing And Budgeting- Part 1

2017 Marketing And Budgeting

     Today I’m working on my 2017 Marketing and Budgeting Plan. It’s a little behind schedule but based on my past few years I’m way ahead just looking at it.

     Previously I have been just a shoot- from-the-hip type of marketing for my  Laundromats and I noticed this last year that I missed a few opportunities that, with more planning and foresight, would have been some great exposure.

   So with that said my first focus will be on my partially attended laundromat, Washin Golden Springs Coin Laundry.

      Part of this year’s overall plans are to increase the Drop Off business at this store. With the opening of the newest, unattended store, Washin Oxford Coin Laundry, the self serve volume has decreased slightly which allows us more access to the machines, especially on the weekends.

       With those plans in mind the marketing for this store will be targeted at the Drop Off Market with very little focus on Self Serve. (I will work on another plan for the new Self Serve store as there are many sports tournaments at a new local park that will come into play this year).

        A few weeks ago another Chamber of Commerce member put on a free seminar at the Chamber covering this topic. I went in with no real plan, just an open mind. He provided a number of worksheets that we put down some various marketing that has been used and how effective we felt it was. If we were not sure how effective it was then guess what?… it wasn’t very effective.

       Next we looked at any special days, events, cycles, seasons that affect our business. In the Laundromat business there are the Spring and Fall bumps that we see due to a lot of house cleaning but what about vacations, back to school, Thanksgiving, and other local events that have an impact.

        Any upgrades planned to your store? New equipment, renovations (paint, lights, restroom). They are opportunities to market and some time and budget should be assigned.

        As I looked though the budgeting I realized I didn’t really understand where I had spent the money last year. As I made notes  monthly advertising (Facebook, AdWords, local magazines) were easy but the one-of advertising throughout the year just kept adding to the list and I wasn’t really sure of the amounts.

       After the seminar it was homework time, which is what I’m working on now. I ran into some more of the same questions and I have asked for a detailed list of all of the advertising from last year from my accountant.

       So right now I’m going backwards so that I can go forward. I need to understand where the money went last year, did I really see results and then I can work on the plan for next year.


Stay Tuned


P.S. That’s me with a local Radio Host that I just remembered was some other advertising from this year.

Ken Barrett and Jock Burgess 979WVOK Oxford AL

Episode 43 – Is Your Business Prepared For A Disaster?

 Is Your Business Prepared For A Disaster?



Last year I attended  four classes to prepare my business for a disaster. The class is being presented by the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, Calhoun County EMA and the Cleburne and Calhoun chapter of the American Red Cross.

          You do not need to be a member of the Chamber Of Commerce to attend this course.

Here are some stats from the Red Cross:

40% of small businesses FAIL following a disaster

94% of small business owners believe a disaster could seriously disrupt their business within the next 2 years.

33% of businesses have NO Business Continuity Plan

          Being a small business owner, a former maintenance technician and volunteer firefighter I have had experience with disasters from different angles.

          As a firefighter we were continuously training to respond to disasters, touring large factories in our area to understand the concern areas and have a better understanding of the layout of the buildings. There were also a number of farms and fertilizer plants in the area that had their own issues. In some cases the best response to a fire is to let it burn. Seems strange but in the case of a fertilizer building fire the damage done by adding water far outweighs the fire damage to the building. This was all part of the emergency / disaster plan of the facility.  We were present at fires, car accidents, medical emergencies, and a host of other issues.


          My job as a maintenance technician required hours of preventive maintenance to avoid equipment failure. In the case of a failure the ability, knowledge, parts and equipment needed to get the facility running again were key to the successful operation of the plant. Many large businesses would never consider running without a trained maintenance staff to respond to equipment “disasters” but have little to no plan in place for an “external / natural” disaster.

          As many of my fellow small business owners know you were many hats during the day, Manager, Purchasing Agent, Marketing Department, Sales Person, Accountant, and Floor Sweeper. Adding Disaster Coordinator to the hat rack is about as exciting as an IRS audit.

          You may have a “plan” in mind to handle a situation as it comes up but does your staff or family have any idea if you are not available?

          Over the past few weeks in the area of Alabama that I live we had a couple of winter weather situations. I was coordinating my store operation by phone and text with my employees but we did have water pipes burst at two of my locations on different days. In one location I flooded my main store and storage room. The casualty at the end of the day was a couple of small items and the power supply for my printer. Fortunately when the pipe burst my employees were at the store.


          In the other location the neighboring store owner, who let me know about the leak as it came under the wall, had to call 911 to get someone from the Water Department to come and turn off the water. I had a cleaner at the store but they were unaware of the outside valve location and did not have access to the inside valve.

          The class being offered by the EMA is free. The meetings are 2 hours each, one per month for 4 months. Plus some additional time to do the Homework to get your plan together.

     Check with your EMA or local Chamber of Commerce about a class near you, or work with them to set one up.


Here are the links I mentioned in the video:
Red Cross
Tammy Bain- Calhoun County EMA- 256-435-0540.

The Anniston Star Article can be found HERE

If you have any comments please post them below.

P.S Are you a business and need to improve your online presence? Maybe I can help START HERE



Episode 42 – Operation Standards

Operation Standards


          In the book The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber he explains why small business owners in general have a hard time moving from a technician (worker) to an owner. One of the main steps in this process is to document each step of your business and make it repeatable.

          In the Drop Off Laundry business that many coin Laundry Owners have or are considering starting this is an obstacle that needs to be addressed early on. Even if you are doing your own work, having a set of Operation Standards ensures you do a consistently good job, are able to train an employee if needed and provides the crucial step in moving to the position of Owner.

          In the future you may want or need to sell your business. Your buyers are going to want to be Owners, not workers and expect a smooth transition. Having the ability to show all of your employees are trained and have signed off on a set of Operation Standards is an important document during the sale process. Also your current and future customers deserve to get a great, consistent product from your business.  

          Below you will find a link to purchase a copy of the Operation Standards that I am using in my laundry, Washin Golden Springs Coin Laundry.


>Purchase Operation Standards<  $120


          The files are in Word and Excel Formats and can be adjusted to your equipment or methods. Pictures can also be removed or replaced.

          These Operation Standards are reviewed, signed and used by every employee at Washin Coin Laundry. 


          On the first day of hire the Drop Off Laundry Training  and Attendant Training Videos from the Coin Laundry Association are reviewed and discussed. 

          Next we work through the Operation Standards. Some, such as the Utilities, are reviewed by a manager with the employee, with others the employee will review, discuss with a manager or senior employee and observe an employee doing the operation before signing off.


>Purchase Operation Standards<  $120

Congratulations on taking the right steps and we would like to wish you Good Luck in building your business.

If you have any comments please post them below.



P.S. Wondering what it takes to build a laundromat ?

Broken Mounting Bolt

Broken Mounting Bolt

        I am very active with the local Chamber of Commerce and attend many events. A couple of their monthly meetings are Business and Biscuits and Business After Hours.

          It does take a few meetings and conversations to get to know people and after awhile I have found that some local businesses will call me if they have issues with their commercial machines.

         In some cases it’s a simple fix like a drain valve or a water valve and I will order the part and repair it for them.

         One business I have done a few things for was a local Spa. They have an OPL (On Premise Laundry) machine. Basically it’s the same as some of my washers except it doesn’t have a coin drop.


         The called saying their washer was vibrating very badly and asked if I could take a look. I started it up and sure enough it was shaking like a human being (my Canadian friends will recognize the Kim Mitchell reference).

           A quick investigation found that one of the mounting bolts was broken off of the base.

           I called a service tech a couple of hours away and explained the problem to him as this was something I was not comfortable repairing. He said he would have to pass it to his installation team as they had the tools and equipment to move the washer and drill new lag bolts into the concrete.

          I sent him a few of the attached pictures so they could see what was required and let the Spa Manager know that they would be coming to repair it.

          Although in this case I couldn’t repair it for them and didn’t charge them for the visit it helps to build relationships with other local business owners.

           It also helps that they use my Laundromat whenever they have a problem with their machines.

                Another time there was an occasion where I received a call from the local Salvation Army shelter that they had problems with their washer. The water fill valve was leaking and spraying water over the machine so they only turned it on during the fill cycle.

         I picked up the valve and some new belts at a local supplier and repaired the washer the next day. There was no charge for the parts or labor on that one.

          It takes some time and effort but get to know other business owners around you so everyone has somebody to call if they have a question.


Play Safe


Episode 29 – Facebook Reach up 627,000%

Facebook Reach up 627,000%


Facebook Weekly Total Reach Up 627,300%


Is it really possible?

Yes, and here’s the stats to prove it…..


How is it possible to get this kind of impact to your Facebook Page?

      Help people solve problems.

It’s the same in the business world.

      For Example, let’s say you were a small business or an individual that wants to build your online exposure to increase sales of your products.

      The products could be a service you offer, a product in your store or even an MLM product.


What is the best way to get the exposure you need?


      Take a few minutes each day to solve a problem for someone and share it through Social Media.

      Your content may be shared so others can have their problems solved and Google will direct people to your post when they are looking for an answer to their problem.

      As you build up your tips others will look around and see you as an authority and will trust your opinion.

      So you’re probably saying ‘Give me an example”.

      OK. Let’s say that I own a Laundromat, no that’s an easy one…

      I’m a plumber.

      I have a cell phone with a camera and I get a call to unplug a sink drain. I take a few minutes to record the steps with a video and load it to my blog with the title. “How to unplug a sink drain in Littleville, US”.

      Others in town with the same problem do a search and find out how to unplug the drain themselves.

      Now you are probably thinking that you lost a customer because they did the work themselves.

      That’s not the thinking that grows a business.

      Next time this potential customer has a plumbing issue  they will look to your site for the information. If it seems too complicated or outside their comfort zone they will call you.


      Because they already know you!


You can get started today on the same system I use for $25 a month. Right Here

Now how did a get a Facebook Weekly Total Reach increase of 627,300%.

Helping People…..

Read the details here



5 Websites With Free Breathtaking Images

5 Websites With Free Breathtaking Images

         Many times we are tempted to just do a search for an image and use it in a post or on a business page or even just a Facebook update but those images are all linked to a site and may be covered by copyright laws.

          It might not seem like a big deal as it is “only one post” but once you build your business and everything is running great do you want to get a letter in the mail from a Corporate Attorney about your use of their clients images?

One quick search found an advertising company had to pay $4,000 for a $10 photo that they “grabbed from the web”.

Most don’t have the ability to take all their own photos but there is hope.

Here is a list of sites that offer free photos. 

            Although they may be listed as free you need to check about the available uses and licensing. Some may require approval before commercial use and others may be OK.
            Also the sites may change their rules at any time so it’s best to build a portfolio of approved images and double check any new ones.

There are some references to Creative Commons Licenses. 


Once you get the rights sorted out then all of those shares on Pinterest and other sites lead back to you.

#1 UnSplash


Free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos.10 new photos every 10 days.

All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.








Sign up to get 7 hi-res images zipped up in your inbox every 7 days. Use them anyway you want.




 Superfamous is the Los Angeles-based studio of Dutch interaction designer Folkert Gorter.

As an online publisher of large collections of literary and visual content, he is an avid promotor of people’s creative contributions to the following projects he co-founded:

→  Cargo
→  SpaceCollective

Folkert’s design work can be viewed here and his photography (below) is available under the conditions of a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0license. This means that you can use the work for your own purposes — including commercial use — as long as credit is provided.









So there you go.

I know I found a few that I can use as I was scanning through.

Let me know in the comments which photos you have used in your blog.


What does retirement look like to you?

What does retirement look like to you?


         Recently I was asked to provide some information to an article about what people who retire early do.

I have always considered being retired means you can do what you want.

This means something different to everybody.

      Some just want to fish everyday, others look forward to spending their time doing crafts and hobbies, or travel.

      Many people use their time and experience to do charity work locally and in other countries.

      Then there are the ones that have retired from one career but still want to pursue other business ventures. It’s not saying that we don’t want to do some of the other things listed above and may start spending more time on those activities but at this point it’s time to “put the training to use”.

      All the experiences that we have built in our previous careers allows us to pick and choose the parts that we feel fit into the new venture.

     In the article on the site Living Large On A Small Budget I provided one option of the 9 Things People Who Retire Early Do.

     In my case it was purchasing and renovating 3 Laundromats in 7 months. Not an easy task but I used the experienced gained in my previous career to complete the Due Diligence and supervise the renovations.

            One thing I have found in this business is that a Laundromat is a part of many communities and providing a clean, well lit, safe, convenient store is important to the health and welfare of the customers. Gone are the days of dingy, dark stores with broken machines.

      At this point in time this is what retirement looks like to me. Running Laundromats, online marketing and telling my stories.

        I have some other plans in the works for the next retirement in a few more years but for now I am enjoying the flexibility of this venture.

So what does retirement look like to you?

Ken Barrett
Multi-Store Laundromat Owner

38th Street Coin Laundry

Brick and Mortar Marketing From Scratch

Brick and Mortar Marketing From Scratch

38th Street Coin Laundry


I have been working on the marketing for a new Coin Laundry in Baton Rouge LA. This is a renovation of an old, closed down Laundromat (the best ones to get by the way- More details here).

      Before I started the marketing I did some searches to find out if there was any history I could work from. That would allow me to use the old name in some of my marketing and link it to the new business.

     But what I found was nothing. Which is not a new thing for Laundromats. There are hundreds or maybe thousands that “don’t exist”. If the Laundromat had a phone line years ago and was put into the Yellow Pages or white pages because of the phone then in many cases that rolled over into some web searches as Google and Bing incorporated data to build their database.

A lot of unattended Coin Laundry’s never bothered as it was just an expense they wouldn’t use so they disappeared by never appearing.

Such is the case of the Laundromat in Baton Rouge.

The first step was to work with the new owner to develop a name and logo. We bounced a few ideas back and forth and decided on a name, logo and colors. I had made a simple one in Excel and then had it tidied up on

A search of the name 38th Street Coin Laundry found that there was a well established location with the same name in San Diego. This provided a bit of a challenge but that’s OK.

I went to work and picked up the domain name, built a website, Facebook page, added all of the analytics and set to work with some low cost promotions to get things rolling.

A few days later I did a search for 38th Street Coin Laundry on Bing as I had not been looking there before and what did I find?

Ranked at #2 and #3 !!

38th Street Coin Laundry


Next is to follow the steps I outlined in THIS POST to fill in all of the information on sites that other Laundromats are showing up on.

    And of course continue to blog on the site to provide tips for the new customers about the equipment that will be installed and how to use it, other information about the area and other local businesses and the progress of the store.

Although we have already jumped up on the search, the blog will continue to provide relevant information for the future customers.

Does a blog really make a difference?  Yes.

 Not sure what to do? Start here for a quick and easy setup.


Custonmer Service

Is Your Company Customer Or Operations Focused?

Is Your Company Customer Or Operations Focused?


Provide A Better Customer Experience

                       Some companies really understand customer service. They know how to hire for it, train for it and deliver it. Other companies claim to give customer service, but in reality, they are grounded in an operations mentality with rules and policies that allow for little flexibility, preventing them from being anything more than just average or satisfactory.

                             Here are a few observations of the differences between customer-focused companies versus operations-focused companies:


                                 Empowerment: A customer-focused company empowers employees to make decisions that are for the benefit of the customer. They have guidelines versus rules and take the approach that if it isn’t illegal, immoral, won’t cost the company money (although sometimes that’s still okay), and won’t harm the company’s reputation, then consider doing it to take care of the customer. The operations-focused company requires a manager’s approval for anything that is outside of their policies or typical way of doing business.


                                Hiring: A customer-focused company hires people who fit the culture, which means they have the personalities and core-values that align with the company’s vision and mission. Certain jobs may require skill, but skill alone won’t get the applicant hired. An operations-focused company will hire for skill, filling a position with technical strengths. The applicant’s personality may or may not fit with the corporate culture.


                             Training: A customer-focused company spends time and money training for soft skills such as relationship building and customer service. The company recognizes that it takes both, technical and soft skills, to break away from being average. The operations-focused company spends most of their training dollars and time on technical skills and product knowledge.


                              Leadership: The leaders of a customer-focused company set the vision and mission of the culture, and then they lead by example. The leaders of an operations-focused company sets the vision and mission of the culture, but sometimes will have the “Do as I say, not as I do” approach. Sometimes their behavior is incongruent with what they want to achieve, often leaving the employees confused and less than motivated.


                                People First: The customer-focused company knows the importance of putting people first – specifically employees. They develop a culture of happy, engaged and fulfilled employees that deliver a better customer experience. Customers like this and continue to come back. An operations-focused company develops a culture focused on systems, procedures and the bottom line. While this is important to any company’s success, they miss the culture part of the equation.


                                       Customer Service: The customer-focused company looks at customer service as a philosophy to be embraced by every employee of the company, recognizing that there are both external and internal customers. The operations-focused company sees customer service as a department.


                                     As a small business owner you have probably put your heart and soul into building your company. When it comes time to hire employees, or hire more than the first ones that helped you grow the company, it’s important to hire right and build the skills needed to make the right decisions based on your company goals and vision.


                                If an employee makes a decision that costs you some money but keeps a customer happy, use the experience to determine how to improve your internal systems to avoid the situation in the future. The money “lost” on that customer may be the best money you ever spent.

              In my business each member is a Manager and is given the ability to make decisions.


                My direction to them is “Everybody walks out that door happy”.

To Your Prosperity

Ken Barrett