I was woken up by a call from my Security company that a motion sensor had been set off at one of my stores. This particular one was behind the dryer wall and was sitting on top of a front load change machine. This sensor had been put there only a couple of weeks before.
Every so often I will empty out the coins in the change hopper to clean around the hopper of any extra coins and dust. When I did this I noticed there were bolts laying on the bottom of the changer. I looked around the back in the dryer area, this door just had a normal, lockable door handle as it didn’t go anywhere exciting. I saw someone had gotten in there and managed to loosen a couple of bolts and bend a piece of angle iron out of the way. This is when the motion sensor was put there and I installed a deadbolt.
Back to Thursday, I looked at the cameras and didn’t see any issue so I contacted the Police and explained where the sensor was and that the door still seemed to be locked. When I arrived at the store I took a look around and didn’t see any issues so I started loading some washers and opening the store.
A customer came in shortly after and went about her business, including using the change machine. After a couple of hours, someone was having a problem with the soda machine. When I went to help I noticed some damage to the lock. Then I looked at the changer and saw some damage there as well.
More details and pictures of how the damage was done will be on our Members Site so we can have some private discussions about prevention methods.
The Police came and made a few notes and I put together all of the video and pictures they would need.
My next steps always cause some discussion in the Laundromat Industry. Many owners would tell me to fix it as quick as possible and not tell anyone. Personally, I have found that exposing these issues makes your customers more aware of what I have to deal with and in most cases upsets them that someone would do the damage.
Since that original post, I have received a number of comments and messages. One message asked if anything had been stolen as someone came into another store, tried to buy something with a credit card that was denied and then paid with $20 in quarters. I am working with that store to get the video to the Police to see if it is the same person, at the very least it appears they may have been using a stolen credit card as the guy didn’t really seem to match the female name on the card.
Another comment that he seemed to be a person on Calhoun County’s Most Wanted list. A video that is sponsored by one of my other stores.
So what’s the cost and impact of putting it on Facebook?
As of noon Saturday I have spent about $10 and have 1,200 video views.
Over the past few years, I have put videos and pictures of any damage on my Facebook pages. In most cases, I have a name to provide to the Police with 48 hours. Although many times the people that are breaking into the machines and stealing from the stores have been charged before, and rarely do you get the compensation owed to you, I feel it is part of my civic duty to find and charge these people so just maybe I can help prevent it from happening to someone else.
Who knows the next place he breaks into maybe someone’s house? Or what if someone walked in on him?
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.
I have a only a few Likes on my store Facebook pages but as I have found out I really don’t need thousands as it’s my customers and their friends that I am looking for.
Let’s take my current hiring plan.
I have decided to use a Staffing Agency for a few reasons I’ll cover in another post. This post is about how to get more applicants.Click here to Read More
Previously I just posted a sign on the store window and interviewed people based on the applications that were submitted. I have found over the past few years that this has found less and less applicants and a limited hiring pool.
Here are all the details. Feel free to cut and paste for your own use.
Washin Golden Springs is looking for the right people to join our staff. Please read all the details below.
Position : Attendant / Cleaner (Part Time) Store Shift Core Hours: 7:00 am to 12:30 pm
12:30pm to 6:00 pm
Shifts may vary. Store operates 7 days per week. Requirements: 18+ Years Old Valid Driver’s License Valid Social Security Number All Applicants are subject to background check and drug screen.
Job duties include, but not limited to: Professional Washing / Drying / Folding and Packaging of Laundry and similar items. Ironing Customer Support Handling cash, making change, tracking. Store Cleaning Inventory, stocking vending machines. Store Cleaning at other Locations in Anniston and Oxford
Us: Family- Friendly Laundromat Known for great customer service and cleanliness Wonderful working environment Looking for Part-time attendants and back up attendants to cover vacations/ sick days. Paid Training
You: Hardworking Responsible Dependable Flexible Work Independently Friendly, Professional & Courteous, great customer service skills Speak and understand English, Bilingual a plus.
If you read this far things are looking good. One last thing to clear up is that we are not looking for someone that “needs a job”, expects to spend time on their phone while at work or is just looking for a paycheck. Our customers expect quality and friendliness and trust us to launder their clothes professionally and on time, every time. Cleaning is ongoing throughout the day as our first customer and 20th customer deserve the same respect.
If you feel you are ready for a position that you never expected would be so interesting ……
Contact Simmons Staffing for more information. 1516 Quintard Ave Suite B Anniston, AL 256-770-7345
We have positions available right now for the right people.
I have decided to take the step that I address the phone issue right from the very start. I understand the culture and use of Cell Phones but I leave mine out of the way when I work at the store and expect my employees to do the same.
The picture I used was made in PowerPoint and saved as a .jpeg. The clothes pictures are from a Royalty-Free Picture Website. These pictures are offered for free download with unlimited use. You can make a donation to the photographer (which I almost always do- $5 or $10) and also see pictures they have available for sale. Other photos in the picture are from my store.
TIP: Facebook only allows 20% text on boosted posts.
Once posted it was Boosted for $10 over 7 days. The target audience was people that like my Page and Their friends within 15 miles of the store.
It was also posted and Boosted on the Facebook pages of my two other stores.
And as expected within a few minutes I had a message ” Do I apply online or at the store?”
Our Store runs efficiently due to a set of Operation Standards that all employees are required to review and follow. This very clearly explains, with words and pictures, step by step how to do each part of the job.
Take a minute to scroll back up and review the Job Posting. Notice how it lists the requirements and how to apply.
I’m expecting the ad itself may screen out some of the potential applicants.
Within an hour of the post there was a comment “I am interested”.
We will see how many actually follow the directions and let’s hope the staffing company will be busy on Monday.
Ken Barrett at Eastman Worlds of Work 2017 Oxford AL
In the past I have hired directly to my staff, mostly by posting a sign in the window and collecting applications.
This time I thought I would try and different method and go through a staffing agency.
Check out the video of some of the details.
I do have to add that the first person I was meeting with didn’t show up. I called the agency and they said her excuse was she had an issue with a kid at school. This was 30 minutes after our meeting time.
She then called me and said she had an issue so she called the agency and asked for my number. No, actually I asked them where you were.
I may have been OK with a call saying she was going to be late or ask to re-schedule but not 30 minutes after the meeting time.
Stay tuned for more updates as I work through the process.
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.
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 http://simplisafe.com/ or you can send me an email email@example.com, 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.
Next it was off to my local graphics shop. FreeStyle Graphics. These guys are great as I can throw some ideas at them and they make the magic happen
And what we ended up with was the Washin Coin Laundry Prize Tub.
This tub will be used at the entrance to every monthly event and any special events where names will be collected. These include: Business and Biscuits ( 35-60 people monthly ) Business After Hours ( 100- 300 people monthly ) Various Public Events
After the first use we have decided it needs some effects when it’s being tumbled so we may add some bells to the inside that make some noise.
This is a reasonably inexpensive way to get your business in front of other business people in the community and creates a great piece for people to approach you and have a conversation.
What are some of the out of the ordinary promotions you have run? Let me know in the comments.
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.
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?
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.
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.
There was a number of the Water Heater Companies there as well including AO Smith, Rinnai, and American Standard.
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?
In all of my stores I have Hot Water storage tanks. I say it this way as the setups are slightly different but the results are the same. I store around 100 gallons of Hot Water ready to go at a moments notice.
In two of the stores this is accomplished with a standard 91 gallon, 199,000 BTU water heater. It’s a big tank with a burner underneath to heat the water. The other store has a separate burner unit. This unit has an internal pump that pulls water from the tank, heats it and sends it back.
When I was building my newest store I focused a lot on getting the volume of water needed to the machines fast. This store has a much larger number of large capacity washers than my other stores and I was doing a complete renovation so this was the time to do it right.
Some back ground, Years ago I owned a 3 acre property beside a river. I wanted to install irrigation piping as it was very sandy and I wanted to grow a number of fruit trees and have a decent looking lawn. I talked to a few people about what piping to install, most suggested 2″ abs piping, you know the stuff that comes on big rolls. I did some calculations based on the length of piping and the pump I would be using (the pump was a high pressure irrigation pump) and my calculations showed I would not actually get water out of the far end of the pipe due to elevation changes and pressure loss in the pipe.
I talked to a local farmer that had literally miles of underground irrigation piping and his advice was that I would never complain if the pipe was too big. So I ended up installing 500′ of 4″ and 300′ of 3″ piping.
This was the same pipe used by utility companies. The initial cost was not that much more, it used the same trench and in the end I could spray water in 50′ diameter circles.
So with my latest Laundromat I used the same philosophy. The Water Department started it off for me. I needed a new supply from the main as I only had a 3/4″ connection. I asked for a 1 1/2″ but they only used 2″. So that was the base size for all of the piping right to the connections for the washers.
I explained to my plumber my reasoning and that every part of the system needed to be confirmed. The ball valves on the main piping were not a problem but I wanted to confirm the supply valves that the washer hoses connected to before he bought and installed all of them.
So why did I go with more traditional water heaters?
There is a trend towards on-demand water heaters in Laundromats and in many cases you need to install 2,3 or more of them. There are a couple of reasons for this:
#1- Two 3/4″ pipes don’t equal one 1 1/2″ pipe. To better explain this without getting too complicated I found this page in a search https://flexpvc.com/Reference/WaterFlowBasedOnPipeSize.shtml. With some standard pressures and velocity (Center , Yellow column) we can see that a 3/4″ pipe allows a volume of 23 Gallons Per Minute and a 1 1/2″ pipe has a volume of 81 Gallons Per Minute.
My 2″ pipe has a volume of 127 Gallons Per Minute.
So based on that alone you would need 4 on-demand units to allow the same amount of water to get to the washers with a 1 1/2″ pipe or 6 units for the 2″ pipe.
Chart number 2 on the page at the link above, takes out some of the variables and just shows the rate of GPM through an orifice, Here we see the difference between a 1″ and a 2″ as 53GPM and 329GPM (75 psi is the pressure at my store)
But that’s only one part of the equation.
#2- The Flow Rate through the water heater has to be determined. I did a search and pulled some information from a random On-Demand Water Heater:
“Maximum flow rate of 10.0 GPM at 35°F temperature rise (4.7 GPM at 70°F rise)”
So let’s break that down: Maximum flow rate 10.0 GPM- So now we would actually need 8 units to meet the capacity of our 1 1/2″ pipe or 13 units for the 2″ pipe.
But that’s not all it said….. “35°F temperature rise (4.7 GPM at 70°F rise)”. What does that mean? If you want to supply 120°F water the incoming water cannot be below 85°F. Now if your incoming water is more of a standard 50°F then you are only going to get 4.7 GPM. How does this happen? The Water Heater will reduce the flow through the unit to maintain the outlet temperature.
81 Gallons Per Minute divided by 4.7 = 17 Water Heaters.
But do I really need 80 to 100 GPM in my store?
Based on the chart we looked at above a 1/2″ pipe can move 14 GPM. Now the actual valve inside the washer may reduce this so lets say 10 GPM actually flows into the washer.
With a 1 1/2″ pipe and 17 On-Demand Water Heaters we could fill 8 washers at a time before we start to reduce the fill time of the washers. This means longer cycle times and less turn over during busy times in your store.
So why not stick with a tank system? And run it at a higher temperature?
A typical tank style water heater has a Recovery @ 70 F Rise of 277 gph or 4.6 GPM. Although the recovery shows the same numbers as the on demand the difference is that your volume of water through the Hot Water System is not reduced. So yes it is possible that the actual water temperature supplied to the washer is reduced this can be partially offset by setting the temperature to 140 instead of 120. And in either case the water sitting in the pipes will already have cooled so the actual in-washer water temperature will rarely be 120 °F.
At the end of the day it takes a certain amount of BTU’s to heat a certain amount of water, all other variables being the same.
So what does all this mean to us as Laundromat owners?
Everybody is in a hurry and they hate wasting time on mundane tasks such as laundry, also as Laundromat owners we want to move people through the store as quickly as possible. It all boils down to cycle time.
Let me take a quick bounce back to an old store I used to own. I had 2- 45# Milnor washers among a bunch of top loaders and smaller front loaders. The water supply had about 40 psi, a long run from the main and the hot water system had 2 older Paloma On-Demand Water Heaters. A normal cycle with each washer took about 28 minutes. Some days with other washers running I timed this washer at almost 50 minutes per cycle. Why? The cycle time does not run during the fill cycle of the washers. Now some of the old Dexters I had ran a 25 minute cycle and didn’t care if there was even water in the drum.
So back to our On Demand vs Tank questions? If you want to maintain your cycle times, keep your customers from waiting too long and keep your store flowing on a busy day you have to be able to get the water to the washers.
To do this with On-Demand Water Heaters you have to be prepared for a worst case and then maybe back off 20% or 30%. The odds of every washer willing at exactly the same time is rare but it’s possible to have 70% filling at the same time. You have to consider volume as well as number of machines. That 60#, 80# or 100# is going to take a while to fill so it’s possible for the customer to start 2 or 3 more machines. We have all seen it where the customer fills all of the machines, adds the money and hits start all at once. That’s actually how I tested my new store.
I understand the trend towards On-Demand and the savings by not having a tank of hot water being stored but what are the other impacts to the store? Slower cycles? Reduced customer turnover? Frustrated customers?
What if a customer sets aside an hour to wash and dry clothes before heading to work, no problem 25 minute wash, 30 minute dry, a few minutes to spare and they are off. No what happens when their washer is only at 19 minutes 35 minutes after it was started because the store is busy? Late for work or pack out wet clothes to the car? Do they care if the water was 105°For 120°F right now?
As with all of these posts these are my opinions but I hope to give you some background and help you with making decisions before you have a problem.
What’s your preference and why?
Pictures are used as examples only. Data supplied from various sources and is not intended to represent the pictured units.
Over the past few days I have been running some tests on the various dryers at my stores. The question that came up was, How much does it actually cost to run a dryer? We all know how much we charge based on the amount of minutes per quarter or cycle but are we really making a profit?
After some thought I figured I would determine the amount of time the gas valve is actually on and then do a bunch of math to figure out how much it costs per cycle.
The cost came from the December 2016 Gas Bill from one of my stores.
100’s of Cubic Feet : 522 1 ft3 = 1000 BTU’s Cost: $605.61 Cost Per 100 Cubic Feet $1.61 Cost Per Therm $1.12
$ per Ccf divided by 1.032 = $ per therm
Although I didn’t use therms anywhere in the final results it is a common unit that gas is charged to the consumer. It’s a good number to calculate and understand when talking to owners around the country.
Here are the results:
Now there are some that may read this and say that we should only be charging $0.25 for a dry. But as business owners we realize that there are a lot of overhead costs involved and gas is just a piece of the puzzle. Power, repairs, equipment depreciation all add to the final customer price.
There were a few things that surprised me a little, I expected the empty dryer cost to be higher then the full dryer as the air/heat would be blowing right through but after the test and thinking about it I realized that the wet clothes absorb a lot of heat and it takes awhile to get the temperature up to where the burner turns off.
So no more complaints about people running a dryer with only a couple of items in it.
And next time a salesman tells you that you can pay part of the loan for your new dryers with the utility savings ask them to show you the numbers that prove it.
Hope this helps.
If you have a chance take a look at the Resources Page and see if there are any items that will help you with your business. If there is something missing please let me know. That’s how I keep this part of the business going.