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Hiring Employees- Direct or Through an Agency?

Hiring Employees- Direct or Through an Agency?     

            A few weeks back I contacted a Staffing Agency about getting some more attendants at the store.
     Here is the video I posted


     Now it’s time for some updates.[read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”]

          The Staffing Agency I used sent me a couple of names and I hired one of the people. She worked out for a couple of weeks and then couldn’t seem to get the part that she needed to be at the store for her entire shift at the times she was scheduled. We had some large orders come through and I asked if she could work longer and to what time and we agreed on a time. A couple of hours later after she “went and looked at her cell phone” she wanted to know if it was OK to go and pick up her husband from work. After some discussion I agreed but she never came back and just sent a text message to me.

         They sent another applicant but we agreed that it was just not the job for her.

             Then the Staffing Agency talked with their insurance company and found out they would have to have an additional policy as they would be handling cash at my store. They were really only set up to provide staff to construction and manufacturing facility or others with direct supervision.

               Part of what I am finding out is that many people who work through Staffing Agencies are just filling those type of straight up “Worker Bee” roles.

                 The first staffing agency did have a couple of names they agreed to send to me. I ended up direct hiring a middle aged woman that was looking for a few hours a week but was willing to work. I trained her for a few shifts and things seemed to be going well. She had the laundry processing part down and seemed to shy away from the cash duties but I was prepared to work with that.

              I’ll mention now that my shifts are 7am to 12:30pm and 12:30pm to 6pm. We are open 7 days a week. There is one person on each shift. My two main people work 6 days and are off one.
             Their off days are Monday and Tuesday. This is because I have to work the “Entry Level” days and I don’t (and have been told not to by my boss :0) ) work weekends. 

               After a few shifts of training my other attendants said the new one had mentioned she really only wanted to work weekends. They were OK with this but knew it was my decision. The following Sunday I got a call from the new attendant asking if she could just work weekends, I said we could probably arrange that but she needed a bit more training and I needed to talk to the others. 

            And that was it. She never showed up or contacted me again. She was scheduled to do inventory from 7-10 on Monday morning and work the store at 12:30. On Tuesday I sent a termination letter and moved on.

               On the previous Thursday I interviewed and hired someone from a new Staffing Agency that had conditions in place for someone handling cash. After training for a coupe of days she was scheduled to work on the same Monday and Tuesday afternoon shifts.

                I was planning in my mind how I was going to train 2 people at the same time in the store but it turned out not to be an issue.

           Monday at 12:30 came and it was just me.

                 Tuesday I stopped by the Staffing Agency and asked where she was. They said they would find out what happened.

             At 10am I received a call that she was in their office and she thought she didn’t work until Tuesday. So I said OK, I’ll see her that afternoon.

            At 1:15 I received a call from the Staffing Agency about another potential attendant. I said to send her over and I would talk to her. They asked about the other one and I said she never showed up.

               I started to realize now that it’s really a numbers game. It’s a bit frustrating but it still saves me time and money over doing my own interview, drug tests and hiring.

             The last one that I interviewed graduated high school last year and so far is doing a great job. She seemed a little hesitant at first but is quickly getting settled in and handling things. We had some big orders come in this week so she will get about 30 hours.

                As I have not had any more candidates from the Staffing Agency I have contacted another one to see what they can offer. The nice part about this is that I’m not restricted to one. 

            There was an agreement I signed with Staffing Agency #2 that states I cannot hire one of their placements direct until after they have worked 500 hours. That may seem like a lot but it’s really only a few months but as I mentioned in the video if you want to reduce / eliminate your accounting and payroll headaches the ~40% the Staffing Agency charges is well worth it.

          Another thing to keep in mind, and confirm for your area, is that you don’t have to pay into Workers Compensation until you reach a certain number of employees, and that number includes you so hiring through a Staffing Agency can have prevent you from reaching that trigger point. I will say again, I’m not an accountant, lawyer , tax or payroll expert so please confirm about your own situation. 

            On another note I just renewed my Quickbooks Payroll Program at a little over $500 for the year.

           So how do you report their hours? There are a few methods. You can sign a time-sheet they drop  off at the agency, fax it your self or how I do it.
I have a time-clock that is connected to the Web. My attendants clock in and out at the store. My accountants’ staff log into the time-clock on Fridays to check the times. Occasionally someone forgets to clock in and it’s a lot easier to change inside the clock.
           For my direct hire employees, they download the clock data into Quickbooks and run the Payroll Program. All my employees are set up on Direct Deposit so once it’s done it’s submitted to Quickbooks, the money is taken from the business account on Monday and they are paid on Tuesday.
Notice that I’m not involved in any step of this. Outsourcing. Don’t do things you don’t like, are not good at, or shouldn’t do. More on that HERE (It opens in a new tab so click this and look at it in a minute).

      My accountants’ staff have direction on how to correct the time when someone forgets to clock in or out. They correct it to their regular times. (Some arrive 5 minutes early and other 15 minutes).
               If someone is late or leaves early they email me the times so I can give written warnings. I still  can access the time-clock anytime to check hours and clock times.

               For the Staffing Agency attendants, they are given a clock number and clock in and out as normal. My accountants staff check their times on the clock and then email the times to the Staffing Agency.

I receive and invoice monthly from the Staffing Agency.

            So overall I would say that although it’s a little frustrating spending a few days training someone that never comes back when I weigh it against the time to print and collect applications, review them, set up interviews (that about 1/2 just don’t show up to), pay for drug tests and offer them the job I’m spending less time and have less headaches by using a Staffing Agency. and if I decide I don’t want or need someone it’s just a phone call to complete the task. No “just cause” terminations or unemployment rate impacts.

         Now I realize why the big companies do this. It may not seem like the way our parents, or even us, found employment but that’s the system that we work in.

            As a side note I worked for a Temp Agency for a summer years ago. Some of my jobs were one day and some a couple of weeks. There were a few that they called at 7:30 am and asked how long it would take me to get to ______. I worked at what ever they sent me and I am better for the experience. So it’s not a new thing.



Ken Barrett at Eastman Worlds of Work 2017
Oxford AL


Episode 49 – ClogHog with Paul Del Piero

ClogHog with Paul Del Piero


          Recently I had to deal with another drain issue in one of my stores. As always it was a Sunday afternoon and I needed to get something done. I decided for the cost of bringing in a plumber I could get the equipment myself and be able to do my own maintenance as well.

          I picked up a power auger at a local store and got the issue dealt with. 

          Previously I had come across some information on a sewer jetter named ClogHog and decided to look into it a bit deeper. Power augers do a good job of cutting though obstructions but a jetter has the advantage of having the water right there and cleaning the pipe as it goes through.

          I decided I would put together the items I needed to deal with sewer problems and, more importantly, prevent them from happening.

          I’ve added a ClogHog to my arsenal of equipment.

          In this episode of the PodCast we talk with Paul Del Piero of ClogHog and get into the details of what they do, how they work and why you should have one as well.



Episode 48 – Wash-Dry-Fold POS- With Brian Henderson

Wash-Dry-Fold POS- With Brian Henderson

          Today we follow up with Brian Henderson and learn more about his Laundromat tested and proven system for tracking Wash Dry Fold orders. 

          Brian Henderson is the owner of Wash-Dry-Fold POS: The Point-of-Sale System for Laundromats.  Founded in February of 2016, Brian’s company is quickly approaching its first anniversary and has already seen some great success for a new business startup, grossing over $100,000 in sales and serving customers from as far and wide as Alaska to Florida to New York and California and everywhere in between.

          Brian’s company was recently featured in the November 2016 issue of Planet Laundry magazine in an article titled, “Filling a Common Need: When His Family’s Laundry Chain Needed a POS System for Its Drop-Off Business, Brian Henderson Created One – Now He’s Built a Company Around That Solution”

          Brian also serves as the operations manager of his family’s chain of three laundromats in northeast Oklahoma named Liberty Laundry, which consistently outperforms national averages for annual income in this industry on a scale of three to one.

          You can contact Brian at or head to the website


Speed Queen Bearing Change

              One of my Speed Queen 40# washers had a main bearing start to make noise. we stopped using it and got on the phone to get some new parts on order and set up a repair.

                 This is not an easy repair and requires some special tool and techniques so you will probably want to call in an experienced Tech. There is also the issue that if there is a problem during or after the installation your machine isn’t down while you figure out what went wrong.

                First I determined it was a bearing issue.

           Next step was to order the new parts. It is possible to just change the bearings and seals and not the entire tub, shaft and trunnion but we could not determine if any changes or repairs had been done since installation. To check this we would have had to take it apart, measure the shaft diameter, order the bearings and seals and then once they arrived, install them.

             This particular washer sits right inside the front door of the store and is the only one of this size. The impact it has to our customers and our own Drop Off service is a lot. We have to use 2 other washers while this is down which reduces the volume we can get through the store.

        So the decision was made to spend the extra money and do it once. This also reduced the Service Tech time as there was only one trip.

           I made sure I had the parts at the store before we confirmed the date of repair. There’s nothing like paying somebody to show up and wait for a delivery with you.

New Speed Queen Drum and Shaft

        The day before the repair I decided to have the motor checked at a local repair shop to make sure it was OK. I have had a number of dryer motors rebuilt by them so they will usually test motors while I wait and have them repaired the same day. The benefits of using a smaller shop and paying right away.

         It turns out the motor was fine so there was no charge. While your machine is down it’s a good time to check a few things and do some cleaning.

               On the repair day I helped the Tech with some of the work. He did the work on the back of the washer, the heavy and tough jobs, and I did the work on the front. See the Time Lapse Video below of the repair.

               As the drum needs to come out form the front you need to remove the cover, door, door lock and switches and the clamp that holds the front part of the tub together.

            I always take a picture of any of the electrical connections before I take anything apart. It’s faster then making a bunch of notes and saves my brain for other things.

           You may not have to remove the wires. It will depend on how much the assembly swings out of the way.

          The switches confirm the handle is shut and that the solenoid activated the door lock.

Speed Queen Door Lock

             Once all the parts on the front and the back were removed the drum was pulled out from the front. 

Old Shaft From Speed Queen Washer

           While the Tech worked on the trunnion and some other items I used the time to do some cleaning around the front of the machine.

             One key point to clean is the level sensor tube. On this model it connects to the bottom of the tub in a small drain. As it is connected to a horizontal tube there is about 4″ that sit flat. This will have a tendency to get full of gunk . Spend the time to clean it out. This will make sure you have a good level in your washer and  possibly reduce costs as a plugged line will add more water to the tub.

          You can pull the tube off of the level sensor and flush it out in a sink. The stainless tube is a little more difficult to clean.

Level Sensor Tube

    Now it was time to put everything back together.  

Speed Queen Bearing Trunnion

     The most difficult part on the front is getting the front piece of the drum and the clamp in place. It will take a few hands to hold it as you tighten it up. This needs to fit well to avoid leaks.

As I put the door back on I made a few adjustments so it would close nicely. It seems the washer didn’t like that so much and the drum rubbed on the door glass when it was spinning with a load. So the door was adjusted slightly to correct this issue.

Total time for the job was about 3 hours and we didn’t have any issues to deal with.


Let me know if you have any questions.


Episode 47 – Security Systems

Security Systems- We all need them so get one that you can work with and think like a thief.

          You have a business and you have an income and there are people out there that want to take it from you. It only takes one to ruin your day.

          Having a security system is a basic need in the Laundromat business and your Insurance Company is going to want to know you have one as well.

          There are many companies out there, both national and local, so you need to find one that works well for you. 

          Personally I use SimpliSafe and I have just converted my last store to them.

         Why did I switch?

          I’m a hands on, do it myself type of person like many other Laundromat Owners so I don’t mind sticking a sensor to a wall and clicking a few buttons on my computer.

          With one of my old systems I had a problem with a water sensor. They said they would be there between 12 and 1. At 12:55 they arrived and started to work on them. It turned out both were bad so he replaced them. Then came the waiting time while there were programmed and tested and guess what?? Neither one of the new ones worked.

          So he had to order two more and schedule another time to show up. 

          I don’t know about you but I hate waiting around and then watching someone do things.

          Here’s the link or you can send me an email, I’ll send you a link and you get 5% off and I get a free month of monitoring. That’s how all this works.




How To Clean A RINNAI On Demand Tankless Water Heater

How To Clean A RINNAI On Demand Tankless Water Heater

            On Demand, or Tankless Water Heaters, run the water through a small heating surface. Like the elements in an electric water heater these Heat Exchanger Plates can built up with calcium and other deposits and reduce the heating ability of your Water Heater.

RINNAI Water Heater
Tankless Water Heater Connections


        As I mentioned in a previous post,  Water Heaters- Tank or Tankless, the flow is reduced on a Tankless water heater to maintain the output temperature. So if the heat transfer efficiency is reduced it will take longer the fill your machines and increase the cycle time of the washer.

            Cleaning these water heaters involves a couple of hoses, a pump, some vinegar and some time. In the video I explain how the hose connections are set up and , hopefully, you have the correct valves installed that allow you to flush each unit individually without disconnecting any pipes.


              It seems like the rubber hoses I used may have broken down a little with the vinegar and there may have been some debris in them as well. I had bought a 25′ garden hose and some new ends so I could cut the hose into the lengths I needed and when I was getting the tools out of my trailer I saw the hoses and thought “That will be easier” as just grabbed them and off I went.

             If you are not sure that your hose will be OK in the vinegar cut a small piece and soak it in some vinegar for an hour or two and see if it is sticky, soft or breaking apart.

         One thing you don’t want is the hose splitting open and  vinegar spraying around.

            The directions do recommend that your pump moves 4 gallons per minute. The pump I used was about half that as it was all I could find at a reasonable price. With a little more planning you may be able to find a small electric pump that will meet the requirements like this one HERE.

            If you are using a drill pump it will be quite noisy and make sure that the ventilation holes are not covered so it will not overheat.


Ken Barrett
Multi Store Laundromat Owner, Blogger and Speaker.



NAHB- IBS Show 2017

NAHB- IBS Show 2017

National Association of Home Builders- International  Builders’ Show – Orlando Jan 2017

         I spent a few days last week at the IBS checking to see if there were any new products that may work in the Laundromat / Coin Laundry Industry. And it was in Orlando in January.

             I’ll start by telling you that it’s a big show. It covered the West and South Buildings of the Orange County Convention Center as well as some of the parking lot.

Orange County Conference Center- Orlando FL

             I arrived on Tuesday morning so I was able to head straight over and get started. I covered the South Building and had to speed through the last few aisles to finish up before it closed at 5.

               Did I mention the parking? When I arrived around 11 I think they were almost out of spots. It took about an hour to actually get parked and that was after jumping a curb and finding a spot on the grass. So now at 5 everybody was leaving and it was jammed.

               Total steps for the day.. about 17,000.

              The next day was an early start and a trip through the main building. This was where the big names in bath, kitchen and construction supplies were set up. I have never seen so many toilets, faucets and door handles in one location.

           I’ll skip through all of the details but today’s total was a little over 21,000 steps.

         Now out of all that did I find anything of value for the Laundromat Industry?

                A new trend in toilets has the tank installed inside the wall with only a “Flush Panel” and the bowl exposed. The flush panel allows access to the tank valves.
Why would that be an option for a Laundromat? What if that 6″ you saved was the difference in getting the room ADA approved without having to move a wall?

Geberit US Concealed Tank Toilet

They can be installed in new construction or renovations.

                  Another option is the Thetford WasteWater Transfer System. These are a great option if you need to move a toilet, restroom or install a new one and you don’t want to cut the concrete or maybe the sewer is not in the area.

Wastewater Transfer System

               This system uses a macerating pump to push the waste up or over to where you have a sewer connection.

        There was a display that had an adjustable height sink as well. It can be used along with the in-wall tank toilet and allows the sink to be raised and lowered by pushing a button and using some slight force. 

Adjustable Height Sink

There was a number of the Water Heater Companies there as well including AO Smith, Rinnai, and American Standard.

Rinnai Free Standing Tankless System

     As a mechanical- type guy I found the show pretty interesting. Doors, windows, taps and other flashy things didn’t really get my attention but the sections with building systems (ICF- Insulated Concrete Forms) always get my interest.

        Time to rest my feet for the next big show.




Do you have Questions or  Ideas for future posts or PodCasts?

Drop me an email at

Toilet Paper Roll Holder Locks

Toilet Paper Roll Holder Locks

       Having your toilet paper disappear is frustrating for you and your customers, plus there is the cost involved.  As I run 24 hour stores and only one is partially attended I have had my share of TP theft.

         The dispensers I was using had a simple key with two prongs on it. This was easy to overcome with a screwdriver or possible a key or knife blade.


         After a few issues as you can see on Facebook HERE . I was ready to try something different. After this issue  HERE, when the door was damaged I used the opportunity to renovate the restroom and add some tile. At this point I found a toilet paper dispenser that had a more complex key.

Dispenser Waffle Key

               You can purchase it on Amazon, they hold 2 of the large rolls and have a good lock for most places.

San Jamar Oceans Twin 9 Inch JBT Toilet Tissue Dispenser


             One of my unattended laundry’s has more of an issue with homeless people than the others, I believe that is why I have problems losing rolls of paper here.

           About a week ago I went in and found both rolls gone, the cardboard sleeve and all. When I looked at the lock I saw where it had been gouged out at each end allowing both tabs to be depressed and the cover opened.

             I didn’t have much time to do a pretty fix so I just grabbed a shackle and lock from a local hardware store and installed it.

           The part is called a Double Hinged Hasp which allows it to move out of the way so you can open the cover and it also covers the mounting screws on the wall.

Double Hinge Hasp

This shows how the hinges work.

               Once it was all done it’s not as pretty as I like, I try to avoid this look as it portrays a security issue at your store but as I mentioned I only had a bit of time at with two $6 rolls of paper missing each night it needed to be stopped.

        If you are having problems with the less secure key types I do recommend this one. It’s working great in another one of my stores and I have one to be installed after the remodel of one of my other stores.



IPSO / Speed Queen Water Valve Leak and Change

IPSO / Speed Queen Water Valve Leak and Change 

        One of the problems with vinyl tile floors in the Laundromat is that the glue is water based so if you get a small leak it gets under the tile and squeezes out when it gets stepped on.

       In this video you can see how the tiles were getting loosened and where the source of the leak was.

          The failures I have had on these valves have all been in the same place on the valve. Some valves fail due to solenoid issues, dirt in the lines and other similar issues. The main reason I have seen these valves fail has been due to a failure in the housing creating a mist of water spraying into the machine.

 Hope this helps.


Don’t forget to check out the re

Dryer Gas Use Testing- The Equipment

Dryer Gas Use Testing- The Equipment

         How much gas does it take to run a dryer in a Laundromat? And what does it cost?

           The dryers do have a BTU/ hour  rating listed on the name plate and we can do calculations based on that but we know the burner cycles on and off depending on the amount of clothes, the water content of the clothes and the outside temperature and humidity.

            So I decided to go to the source. The gas valve. How long is it actually on.

    The timer I used was an Autonics LE8N-BF

LCD Counter/Totalizer, Digital8 AUTONICS| Zoro #: G7526635

               Other uses for this would be to connect to your water heater to determine an average weekly gas usage. This will help you isolate the Hot Water Cost from the dryer cost.

           There are a couple of setting on this depending if you want to track down to the second. The directions look a little confusing but they cover a few different timers and a coupe of languages. So just find your timer part number and follow the steps.

LCD Counter/Totalizer, Digital 8 AUTONICS| Zoro #: G7526635

The results will be posted soon.


Ken Barrett in front of the dryers at Washin Oxford Coin Laundry, Oxford AL