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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 ?

Episode 40 – What Does A Chamber Of Commerce Do?

What Does A Chamber Of Commerce Do?

       Many people and businesses have heard about their local Chamber of Commerce and in some cases may have been members previously but they are still not sure what they are all about and how they can benefit from being involved.

          According to Wikipedia “A chamber of commerce (or board of trade) is a form of business network, for example, a local organization of businesses whose goal is to further the interests of businesses. Business owners in towns and cities form these local societies to advocate on behalf of the business community. Local businesses are members, and they elect a board of directors or executive council to set policy for the chamber. The board or council then hires a President, CEO or Executive Director, plus staffing appropriate to size, to run the organization.”

         Although a business may be a member of a national organization such as the Coin Laundry Association or the National Restaurant Association, and may even attend events to learn new ideas and connect with other owners, they haven’t considered joining their own local Chamber of Commerce.


            An old saying about data was “garbage in, garbage out”, a similar phrase could be applied to your local Chamber ” nothing in, nothing out”. Signing up and never attending events, training, sponsoring events or supporting a committee may get you something in return but meeting local business people and talking about common issues and events will see an even greater return on your investment.

          What if you attended the Ribbon Cutting for a new business in your community? Imagine how that new owner would feel that another business owner would take a few minutes out of their day to say “Welcome to the community, I remember when I first started my business how overwhelming it was. If you ever need any help or ideas I’m just around the corner.”

         Listen as I talk with Kim Boyd of the Calhoun County Alabama Chamber of Commerce about what they do and how you can be involved.

          If you are in another area, or even another country, you may hear some ideas that you can implement in your own local Chamber of Commerce.

You can contact Kim at

1330 Quintard Ave, Anniston, AL 36201
(256) 237-3536





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



Episode 19 – What if you market to Everyone?

“If you are marketing to everyone, you are marketing to no one”

     Determine exactly who an ad is targeted to and adjust as needed.

     Last summer we spent a weekend in Washington DC. We took the kids out of school for a few days so part of the deal was that for it to be considered a school trip they would have to write an essay about what they saw and where they went.

     It was an interesting trip, I had been there years ago but my wife and kids had never been so I had a general idea of the layout and how to get around.

     One of the things that I think caught them by surprise was the size of the monuments and The Mall. Walking between the buildings of the Smithsonian and over to the White House could wear out a good pair of shoes.

     We did get to see Marine One approach and land at the White House, I’ll attach the video to the Show Notes at


     Some of the other sites we were able to see were some of the old battlefield locations from the War of Independence and the Air and Space Museum.

     So you’re probably wondering why I am talking about a family vacation on a Business PodCast?

     Back at the beginning of the PodCast I mentioned that they had to do a report to cover it as a school trip.

     During the drive back home we had them work on their reports and read them to us. This was mainly to make sure they actually got done and weren’t too lame.

     But here is the interesting part.

     All three of the kids on the trip are girls, all teenagers and within 2 years of each other. We had all been to the same places, at the same times but based on the reports they wrote you would think they were on completely different trips.

     Some of the highlights of one report were not even mentioned on another, in fact there were only a couple of instances that overlapped between reports.

     So how do you market to them?

From the outside they would all seem “the same”. Home environment, trip, attractions, ages yet they are completely different.

     The answer? If I could give you a definitive answer the world of marketing would be a flat playing field and all of the adds would be the same.


     The thing to keep in mind with your marketing is, everybody is going to look at something a little bit different. What might seem just great to you, the right information, written correctly, the right colors, it looks great but somebody else might just click right over it. So, it’s important when you’re doing any marketing to try a few different things.

I have run ads on Craigslist, some of you may have found this PodCast from them, but they had slightly different headings and information and at times were side by side but one had more response , or conversions, than the other.

     A common phrase in marketing and sales and there are some variations, “If you are marketing to everyone, you are marketing to no one”

     Think about the customer you are targeting and what their problem is, then provide a solution to their problem.

     I mentioned in a PodCast a few weeks ago about a recent radio ad targeting hunters preparing for the season. Since that time I have had an animated video made and promoted it on Facebook to a specific audience. I also used some Google Ads with hunting related search terms as the targets.

    The video was also shortened from 32 seconds to 20 seconds to run on a local Cable Show

     You will not get 100% response to any target market but look for different methods and ideas, think about it from your customers point of view and keep copies of everything so you can use it again in the future.

     All of the links mentioned including my recent ads will be in the Show Notes at PodCast




Shortened Video



Episode #12 – Using Radio Ads to Promote Your Small Business

       A form of advertising that still gets a lot of exposure is Radio. I have used this medium a number of times over the past few years.

       When I first opened my Laundromats I started to see what stations were in the area and found there were 9 based in my market. This did not include ones from other cities that could be heard in the area. The range stretched from AM Gospel stations to FM Rock stations to Talk Radio. I was surprised by the amount and diversity.


       I used different promotions with the stations I worked with. Some did not actually have a radio spot but was part of a weekly promotion. The station ran a Birthday Club promotion where people could call in each day with a birthday announcement and on Friday one was chosen for a Gift Package. This consisted of items from local businesses, A birthday cake, flowers, meal coupons and a Drop Off Laundry Gift Card.

       During the Holiday Season the station ran almost non-stop Christmas songs and each hour was sponsored by a different business. This was my first venture into an actual radio ad.


Usually I run a limited amount of targeted ads each year. This helps to maintain the advertising budget and get the most exposure.

       The next year I started to move into full 30 second commercials that covered all of the facts and details about the business.


As I learned more about advertising methods and how to explain benefits and not features the commercials took a different approach.


       The size of the washer and the temperature of the water are features, getting the comforter cleaned is the benefit.

       As I developed the businesses and started to determine the base markets for each location the advertising became more specific to the store. Washin Golden Springs is a partially attended store with a Drop Off Service that could target a different customer base. So instead of splitting the pie, the thought was too make a bigger pie or more pies.



       So where to go from here? We have covered the basics of the store locations, features and benefits, hours and size.

       Now it was time to start having some fun. I had worked with the Radio Personalities for a couple of years and they had a better understanding of the business so they wanted to make some changes to catch the audience’s attention.



       I took a bit of a break and used some other advertising methods that you can check out at

       But like most things you have fun with you can only stay away for so long. The ads can be featured around seasons, events or other particular days depending on your target market and area so there was a Special Day coming up so it was time to give the audience something completely different.

      Let me set the stage for the first time I heard the ad on the radio.

      I was driving home and tuned to my local Rock station. This wasn’t Old Rock, or Soft Rock but real screaming guitars and beating drums. I had it turned up listening to Godsmack 1000 HP and when the song ended it blended into my ad.



       There is a term in advertising called a Pattern Break where you make a drastic change to re-engage you audience. I believe this fits the term very well.

       There are a couple of effects to the audience when this happens. First they stop what they are doing and look to see who messed with the radio, next they listen to find out what they are hearing and third they listen to the next ad to see if they are back where they feel they should be.

       It was a bit of a risk for the station to mix this drastic of a change into their lineup but I received a lot of feedback from people who heard the ad on the radio.

       Another more reasonable entry into radio ads is to sponsor the traffic , weather or news. These are typically short 10 second ads instead of the full 30 second spots. The ads are short and to the point and maybe not so much fun but the listener will focus in on them as they want to hear the weather or traffic updates or they may use the news as a “timer” during their daily routine.

       Here’s a sample



       Recently I installed some new large capacity washers and dryers at my unattended store. With the increase in volume I am able to direct more traffic to the store.

       In this ad one of my attendants from the other store did part of the voice over. It is for a set time frame and target market and I will be working with a couple of local stations to determine the best timing of the ads.



       After using the radio ads they don’t need to go to waste. They can be mixed together with still pictures and turned into a video for use on Social Media or even some of the local Cable Advertising Channels.

       I hope you got some enjoyment and ideas from these commercials. As I mentioned earlier look from some local stations and see if you can work with them a few times during the year to expose your business to new customers and have some fun doing it.

       After reviewing all of the ads for this PodCast I realized I should probably be in one myself. After doing hundreds of videos I don’t really have an excuse not to and as small business owners it’s good for our customers to get to know us.

       All the show notes and a couple of videos are available at





Episode 9 – Ten Need To Know Items Before Opening A Business

Episode 9  Ten Need To Know Items Before Opening A Business

      Applicable To Many- Targeted To Laundromat / Coin Laundry

      Everybody likes a Top 10 list and these may not be the Top 10 but they are certainly the big ones.

      This information is targeted to a Laundromat / Coin Laundry but most will apply to any small business.

      The percentage of small businesses that fail during the first few years is actually a very sad number. Thousands of people have a dream and open a small business. They have the dream but not all of the information.

        This list has been developed from my own experience. I currently operate 3 successful Laundromats and was fortunate enough to have some guidance at the start and learned the rest very quickly. Unfortunately some of the items came as a surprise.

         The presentation is available at the bottom of the page.


Why SCORE? SCORE offers the nation’s largest, network of free, expert business mentors.

             If you’re just starting a business, SCORE mentors can provide the practical action plan, education and tools you need to open your doors and establish a customer base. Already own a business? Our volunteer mentors can help identify ways to increase profit, improve employee and customer satisfaction, and achieve work/ life balance.


Included in this package:
  • Business Plan Template
  • 3- Year Financial Plan Template
  • Construction and Start Up Actual Costs
  • Renovation Pictures
  • Simple Pro-Forma Layout
  • Demographic Information and Presentation
  • New Store Cost Budgeting Form
  • And so much more
  • All areas of the forms can be edited to fit your location.


An SBA Article on Mentors: ” … according to a 2014 survey by The UPS Store, 70 percent of small businesses that receive mentoring survive more than five years – double the survival rate of non-mentored businesses.”


The Presentation Is Available Here



If you have any comments please post them below.


Ken Barrett

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.

     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-

-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.

– 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.

– 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. 

     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.


Simple Laundromat / Coin Laundry Marketing Tip

Simple Laundromat / Coin Laundry Marketing Tip

      There are all kinds of marketing methods but sometimes you just have to do something simple and just tell people what to do.

        A few years ago I was trying to determine a method to increase my Drop Off Comforter business.

      Although there is some fluctuation between months and some changes to the customer list, by providing a professional service in a timely manner we have a developed solid Drop Off customer base.

       As many Laundromat and Small Business Owners already know you don’t have to settle with splitting up the pie if you can make it bigger. 

So the target was comforters.

       I worked with a local graphics company to make  up a two sided banner and put it out by the road.

        For the next few days there was no noticeable change in the Drop Off traffic but then a got a call from my attendant asking what we were going to do with all of the comforters.

         See for the first couple of days people noticed the sign as they drove past, then they finally made a mental note to grab that comforter in the morning and drop it off on the way to work.

        So we had to use some empty pails and plywood to make some quick shelves so we could stack the abundance of comforters. This also allows up to easily move the shelves out of the way when we need to.

         One thing you will find is that as much as you can tell your customers it will be ready that afternoon, or they say they will pick it up the next morning, it will probably be a few days before they come back.

        We always make sure to get a phone number on comforter Drop Offs, clothes aren’t as bad and they don’t take up as much space if someone does forget.

         The next year I put the sign in the same place and was told to move it by the By-Law Officer. My parking lot goes right to the edge of the power poles which is there reference point for signs.

         For that year I hung the sign on the front of the building and although visible wasn’t the “eye catcher” that I needed on a busy road by a stop light. 

        So this year I checked the “reference points” of the power poles and found a spot on the grass at the corner of the lot just inside the wires.

            Using an app on my phone called PicPlayPost I was able to combine a picture of my overhead sign with a video of my “Spring Cleaning Tip”

            Next I used this video on the Washin Golden Springs Coin Laundry Facebook page and after receiving about 40 views I boosted the post for the next 5 days.

           The demographic I used was women between 40 and 60 who like the local newspaper. Picking demographics can be the hard part if you have a small “like” base on your Facebook page but as I was making the pie bigger I wanted to reach a different audience so I skipped “people who Like my page and their friends”

        We are only a few days into this promotion so I will continue to monitor the Facebook results and store activity and determine if I want to continue.

     Cost breakdown:

Original sign was about $140, 4 years ago.
Orange barrels- free from behind my store.
A piece of some 1/2″ conduit and some tye wraps.
PicPlayPost app- Free,
and $20 in Facebook ads.


Do you have any simple marketing tips that we could share?

Post them in the comments and share this post with others.


P.S. Check out LaundromatHowTo.Info for more information on Laundromat Ownership

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.