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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.

 

Ken

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

Episode 33 – POS- With Brian Henderson Part 2

POS- With Brian Henderson Part 2

       This is the second part of my interview with Brian Henderson and his travels down the POS Road.

         We cover more of the details of what makes a great Laundromat Specific Point Of Sale system and how to get the right one in your store.

            When people hear the term POS a few things come to mind. In this Episode we talk about Point Of Sale Systems and the struggles to find one that will work with the Laundromat Industry.

 

          Brian Henderson has a lot of experience in this area and ventured down some roads that others don’t want to.

Here is some Background on Brian:

Brian Henderson

          Brian Henderson is the Operations Manager of Liberty Laundry, a highly successful chain of laundromats in northeast Oklahoma.  Since its founding in 2005 by Brian’s father John Henderson, Liberty Laundry has expanded to a team of 25 people, three locations, and continues to grow.  In 2006 Liberty Laundry was announced a top five runner-up inAmerican Coin-Op magazine’s “Coin-Op Beautiful Contest” as one of the nation’s most beautiful laundromats. 

Liberty Laundry         Lynn-Lane-1

 

       Additionally, Liberty Laundry was the first laundromat in the state of Oklahoma and one of the first in the nation to install credit card readers on every washer and dryer in its store.

          Brian Henderson came on board full time as the company’s Operations Manager in 2010 after graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma with a degree in chemistry.  Brian is a self-proclaimed “laundry nerd” and says that he absolutely loves “talking shop” with other laundry owners.  He and his father John Henderson have written several articles for the CLA’s monthly trade magazinePlanet Laundry and are frequent contributors to the CLA’s online forums.

 

             Brian is a repeat guest presenter at the international laundry conference called the Clean Show, having participated in a panel discussion titled Best Practices for Wash Dry Fold and Commercial Accounts at 2013’s Clean Show in New Orleans.  Brian presented again at the 2015 Clean Show in Atlanta in a class titled Your Guide to Wash, Dry, Fold: Folding, Packaging and Presentation Techniques and spoke to a packed audience with standing-room-only in a presentation titledThe High-Tech Laundromat: Streamlining Store Operations Through Technology.

              Brian recently began a new business providing Point of Sale systems specifically tailored to the needs of fellow laundromat owners running a Wash-Dry-Fold operation and has already received a great response.  If you would like to learn more about this system then check out his new website at washdryfoldpos.com or email him at brian@washdryfoldpos.com

 

 Brian also lists some of the factors to look for in this Article in Planet Laundry.

           POS Systems: A Guide for Laundry Owners “Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Point-of-Sale System for Your Business.”

 

              For more information on the history of Liberty Laundry check out the PodCast at:

FOREFOUNDERS Ep. 14: The Bright Spot in a Dingy Industry with Brian Henderson of Liberty Laundry

Comments and questions are always welcome.

 

Ken

Episode 32- POS- With Brian Henderson Part 1

POS- With Brian Henderson Part 1

          When people hear the term POS a few things come to mind. In this Episode we talk about Point Of Sale Systems and the struggles to find one that will work with the Laundromat Industry.

          Brian Henderson has a lot of experience in this area and ventured down some roads that others don’t want to.

Here is some Background on Brian:

          Brian Henderson is the Operations Manager of Liberty Laundry, a highly successful chain of laundromats in northeast Oklahoma.  Since its founding in 2005 by Brian’s father John Henderson, Liberty Laundry has expanded to a team of 25 people, three locations, and continues to grow.  In 2006 Liberty Laundry was announced a top five runner-up in American Coin-Op magazine’s “Coin-Op Beautiful Contest” as one of the nation’s most beautiful laundromats. 

       Additionally, Liberty Laundry was the first laundromat in the state of Oklahoma and one of the first in the nation to install credit card readers on every washer and dryer in its store.

          Brian Henderson came on board full time as the company’s Operations Manager in 2010 after graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma with a degree in chemistry.  Brian is a self-proclaimed “laundry nerd” and says that he absolutely loves “talking shop” with other laundry owners.  He and his father John Henderson have written several articles for the CLA’s monthly trade magazine Planet Laundry and are frequent contributors to the CLA’s online forums.

             Brian is a repeat guest presenter at the international laundry conference called the Clean Show, having participated in a panel discussion titled Best Practices for Wash Dry Fold and Commercial Accounts at 2013’s Clean Show in New Orleans.  Brian presented again at the 2015 Clean Show in Atlanta in a class titled Your Guide to Wash, Dry, Fold: Folding, Packaging and Presentation Techniques and spoke to a packed audience with standing-room-only in a presentation titled The High-Tech Laundromat: Streamlining Store Operations Through Technology.

              Brian recently began a new business providing Point of Sale systems specifically tailored to the needs of fellow laundromat owners running a Wash-Dry-Fold operation and has already received a great response.  If you would like to learn more about this system then check out his new website at washdryfoldpos.com or email him at brian@washdryfoldpos.com

 Brian also lists some of the factors to look for in this Article in Planet Laundry.

           POS Systems: A Guide for Laundry Owners “Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Point-of-Sale System for Your Business.”

              For more information on the history of Liberty Laundry check out the PodCast at:

FOREFOUNDERS Ep. 14: The Bright Spot in a Dingy Industry with Brian Henderson of Liberty Laundry

Comments and questions are always welcome.

 

Ken

IPSO / Speed Queen Washer Not Draining

IPSO / Speed Queen Washer Not Draining

             A complaint we receive occasionally is that the small Horizon style front load washers “Didn’t spin my clothes out”. There may be a couple of issues that cause this. One of the main ones I have seen is an out of balance load that never gets a good spin. This can happen with a few pairs of jeans or 3 or 4 towels. In a top loader when a load was out of balance you would hear a thumping sound and the machine may walk across the floor. To fix it you just opened the lid, moved a couple of things around and away it went.

              This is not an option on a front load washer so the machines will slow down and try to re-balance the load themselves. In most cases after a couple of times enough of the water is spun out and the load balances so the washer continues through the cycle. 
            The tubs in these washers are mounted on 3 or 4 shock absorbers and offset with a steel of concrete counterweight. As the shocks start to wear they act more like springs and have a harder time balancing the load

          One of the first things to do is to run it through a cycle and see if there is water left in the tub. This can be caused by debris in the pump that is easily cleaned out by removing the insert in the front of the pump and pulling out the items. You will probably find a) bobby pin, b) bra wire, or c) necklace. sometimes there is a coin in there as well.

             In order to avoid a mess you can use a set of Pinch Off Pliers Available Here. Just use them to clamp the hose between the tub and the pump and the water won’t drain out when you work on the pump.

            Occasionally you will have a pump fail and need to replace it. That’s the position I found myself in after looking at everything else. Including checking the water flow out of the drain hose as sometimes they get plugged up with soap sludge.

           First you unplug the washer or turn off the breaker.

                Next step is to remove the cover below the door on the front of the washer.

 

              Inside you will see the pump. The position and orientation may vary between models but they are all very similar. This picture shows the location the pump is mounted in and the hose is the outlet to drain.

To remove the pump:
a) Clamp the hose from the tub to prevent water flow. The pliers don not need to be too tight as you are squeesing a rubber hose so it will seal easily and you don’t want to damage the hose.
b) Unplug the two electrical connectors and move them out of the way so they stay dry.
c) Loosen the hose clamps on the tub and drain hoses at the pump
d) remove the two mounting bolts between the pump bracket and the washer base.
e) disconnect the hoses and remove the pump.

              Once I git the pump out I looked inside and found there was some material behind the impeller.
 This would occasionally bunch up and stop the impeller form turning so the water could be pumped out. Once the pump stopped and the pressure from the material move the impeller it may or may not work the next time.

              I removed the material and bobby pin and reinstalled the pump.

          I put the new pump I had ordered on the shelf in case this was not the root cause and ran a trial cycle.
So far everything is working great .


Ken

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.

Links:

Score.org 

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.

THE LAUNDROMAT INVESTOR PACKAGE

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

Speed Queen Single Pocket Dryer

Random Laundromat Review

Random Laundromat Review

     As I travel around I stop at various Laundromats to see how they are doing and to get some ideas.

   This Laundromat needed some repairs and was missing a key piece of equipment. Can you spot it?

 

 

Ken 

Plugged Drain

     I recently returned from the Clean Show in Atlanta and stopped by one of my stores to see how things went while I was gone.
           I checked a few things and talked to a few customers and my attendant.
Everything was looking good and I was just about to leave when a customer came over and said one of the washers was leaking badly.
         I went to check as sometimes a string from a hoodie will get caught in the door seal but instead I found a decent amount of water coming from under some of the small front loaders.
This particular bulkhead of washers contained seven 20# Speed Queen washers, a 40# Speed Queen and a 60# Dexter and they were all full and running.

           I climbed on top of the washers to move the cover off the bulkhead and found the 4″ drain pipe that the 20# pump into overflowing.

           As they were all running there was not much I could do but get the attendant to grab a mop and I went to get the Wet/Dry Vac.

      As the machines stopped we had it somewhat contained and I was able to move one of the 20# washers and get closer to the drain.

       This 4″ drain pipe is straight up from the P-Trap located below the floor. The other washers are connected to a  4″ drain that T’s in just above the floor.

         My tool trailer was out behind the store so I was able to get a simple drain snake and, once the washers stopped running, and I had used the vacuum to transfer all of the water from the drain pipe, including all of the water that was still in the 40# and 60# washers I tried to clean out the drain.

        No luck with this method.

        I headed for the phone and started calling plumbers to see if I could get the pipe cleaned out. Of course this did not happen on a Tuesday about 9am but instead it was Sunday around 12:30. The first four plumbers said it would be at least a few hours with no guarantee they could make it or they just weren’t able to come until Monday. The next one answered the phone with the statement that all Sunday calls were $100 plus the normal charge  and How can I help you?.

         At least they had someone available, right after he finished Sunday lunch with his family, went home and changed and then got his truck. But at least he was committed to come.

         Once he arrived I explained the situation and the general layout of the drain piping . As much as I have determined over the last few years.
The first step was to use a power auger. The difficulty in this is that the cable had to be raised up about three feet to go over the top and down the drain pipe. Doing this makes it difficult to control the cable and get it to feed around any corners.

         After a few attempts he was not able to get past the P-Trap below the floor.

             Next was a diaphragm that is connected to a garden hose and inserted into the pipe. The diaphragm expands and  plugs the pipe and the water continues through to flush the pipe.

         This did not seem to be making any headway so I pulled a test cap out of an unused drain in the center of the floor and was welcomed by some sludge that was pushed out of the drain by the pressure of the garden hose.

         At this point the plumber said he would need to get a water jet and that there would be an extra charge. As we were in this deep and half of the store was down I told him to go and get it while I cleaned up the mess we had so far.

           He returned with the water jet trailer and parked it behind the store near my tool trailer.

               Next door to the Laundromat is another unit that I use for storage and as an office. This unit used to be part of the Laundromat and has a drain pipe in the floor as well. The plumber flushed out this drain with the water jet first, mainly to make sure it would make it around the P-Trap before he pulled it in to the store.

 

             Everything seemed to be working so he pulled the hose into the store and flushed out the original drain pipe and the one in the center of the floor.

 

            After about 8 hours and $640 in plumber charges the drains were cleaned out, all the washers had been run and the store was cleaned up.

           The plumber on the other hand got his truck stuck behind the building and had to pull it out the next day.

 

            On Tuesday I received a call that the 40# washer was counting down to about 16 minutes and then dropping to zero and stopping. I was tied up on another project so I sent a text to a local service tech to see if he would be in the area. He said he would be there the next day so I left it with him.

       My attendants said that he pulled out a lot of trash from the drain valve and it was working again.

             When I stopped by on Friday there was still an occasional issue with the 40# washer dropping to zero so I checked with the Tech and he said it may stall have some drain valve problems.

              There was also a note from the night before complaining about how the washers by the front of the store left the clothes with a soiled smell and it took a long time to dry. I called the number on the note but the lady was not in. I left my name a number for her to call back.

              After a couple of hours I had not heard back so I drove over to the business where the number was to and asked to speak to her.

            She explained which washers she had used and the problems. Also that it was almost midnight the night before and she was very frustrated that it was going to turn into “one of those Laundromats” that are not maintained and take people’s money.

            I assured her that was not the case and we had had some drain problems and I was concerned we may still have some issues.
She accepted my offer of $40 in Drop Off Gift Cards so she could take the items back to the store and my attendants  could clean them and provide the finished product she was looking for.

          After this I headed back to the store and found a customer had loaded the 60#,40# and three 20# machines and was ready to start them. I asked if he could wait for about 10 minutes so I could check the drain pipe.

             He had no problem and said “Maybe I’ll get a free wash out of it”. This customer happened to be the first customer to ever use one of my Laundromats  so some free washes were not going to be a problem.

           I pulled the rubber connector from the back of the 40# washer and found there was some water in the pipe. I lifted the pipe as much as I could to see if it would go down the drain but it didn’t empty the pipe.

            I put it back together and started the washers for my #1 customer or customer #1 however you want to look at it.

            Next stop was to the big box store for some parts. I picked up a hand snake, 4″ Y connection and a test plug.

          When I returned to the store the washers were all done so I blocked them off and started into the drain pipe. Once I made the first cut I fund what the problem was. The pipe had about 1 1/2″ of coins, chains and sludge built up. The problem with the coins is that they corrode together and start to hold back other pieces of sand and debris.

2015-04-24 16.45.08

            I continued to cut out enough of the drain pipe to be able to install the Y connection. I used the wet/dry vac to clean out the 6 foot length of drain pipe. By pushing the hose in and out the spiral edges of the hose do a pretty good job loosening the debris from the pipe.

          Once it was cleaned out I glued in the Y connector on a 45degree angle. I considered installing it pointed down so it would catch the future debris but it would have been difficult to run a power auger into if if needed.

 

           The test plug is easily installed by putting it in the pipe and tightening up a wing nut by hand.

           The 60# washer was then run on a hot cycle to flush out the pipe and after some mopping and cleanup the store was operating again.

 So in summary here are a few takeaways:

– You will only have big issues show up on Sunday when the store is busy.

– This drain line is connected to two large washers that get used 5+ times per day so I will have to shorten the drain cleaning intervals to keep the pipes clean.

– On a Speed Queen 40# washer if the time suddenly drops from around 15 minutes to zero it’s could be a drain valve problem.

– And lastly always go out of your way to find the cause of a customer’s concern as it may be a bigger problem that only shows up with the right combination of equipment being used.

 

Ken

 

Please comment and share if you got some value from this post.

Laundromat Construction- Trenching

Laundromat Construction- Trenching

This location was a Laundromat previously so most of the infrastructure is complete but due to some layout changes there is some concrete that needs to be cut.

The new drain, vent connection and electrical.

 

Some of the starting pictures. Notice the paint line on the floor indicating the customer area to the right and the dryers in the cleaner strip and the dryer access area against the left wall.

Water heater and lint trap room.

 

The start of the trenching.

 

Some old shelves left from the previous store. It’s handy to keep these around during construction to store tools, fittings and other items on.

 

This is the old attendant room. The electrical panel is in the back right corner. This room will be reduced in size and re-framed for the change machine, camera DVR, and other secure storage.

 

Stay tuned as we continue with the renovations.

Ken

P.S. If you have any questions please comment below.

The CLA and the American Cleaning Institute® (ACI)…

The CLA and the American Cleaning Institute® (ACI) have partnered to help spread laundry safety information and tips in Laundromats around the country. We need your help in spreading ACI’s laundry safety messages by sharing safety information. Along with ACI, we are dedicated to raising awareness to help protect children from laundry accidents. Check out ACI’s informational poster and help spread the word.
bit.ly/1FeSwND

 Coin Laundry Association
Posted on Facebook
Blogged by Blo.gl
Indexed in Google

Are you interested in earning an income online?
http://online.washincoinlaundry.com/

Stolen Clothes and The Power Of Social Media

Stolen Clothes and The Power Of Social Media

   A couple of nights ago I received a call from the Police Department of the town where one of my stores is located. A customer had completed her wash and moved the clothes to two of the dryers. She then had to go and pick up her kids from school so she left the store. One the way back she had a flat tire and changed it about a block from the store.

       When she returned her clothes were gone. She checked with two other women in the store and was told that another lady had just taken them.

        Her husband left in the direction the women had indicated.

       As the lady called the police the other women left the store.

       I was called to see if I could come up and look at the cameras and see if we could determine who took the clothes. After reviewing the video we found out it was the two women that were in the store and the clothes were actually in their truck when they were asked about it.

       I told her it would take me a little while to get the video reviewed and pull out the parts that may show who they were and I would post it on the Laundromats Facebook Page.

       I returned home with the saved video and found out I had saved the information for the wrong date.

       I posted on Facebook that the issue had happened and pictures and video would follow. The customer that had lost the clothes had already made some posts on her Facebook page about the issue.

       The next morning I went back to the store to collect and edit the video. I captured some still pictures and posted them on the page and then uploaded 3 videos.

       The page views for one of the videos was over 100 within the hour. I saved all of the video and pictures and created a “How To” page for the video player and dropped off the file to the Police station. We did a quick review to make sure the files were OK and I left it up to them.

       During the day I checked on the Facebook Analytics.

       The reach, page likes and shares just kept increasing.  The City had a population of just over 5,000 people but the posts had a total reach of over 8,600 by late in the day.

       Around 7pm I was looking at some comments and someone had asked about the post that the suspects had been found.

       I looked at the original customers status and saw

      “The police caught the girls who stole our clothes and recovered all our property!!!!!!! Girls are both in custody and warrants being sworn out by the sheriff tomorrow to send them to jail for term!! GOD IS SOOOOO STINKING AMAZING!!!!! Thanks to all who prayed and shared our status!!!!”

      It seems the vehicle had been spotted and was followed. The suspects dumped the clothes into a dumpster. The bags were then retrieved.

      Once they were arrested it turned out they lied about that and the clothes were still at their house.

      All of this happened in about 24 hours.

      At the time of writing this post they are still sorting things out and I’m sure there will be some charges against the suspects but fortunately the customer got most of her items back.

      There are a few things that come up in this story we can learn from for our businesses.

      – Have cameras that work and know how to get the information out. In this particular store I had some problems with squirrels getting in the attic and eating the camera wires. I made sure I had at least a couple working until I could get things fixed.

      – Make sure you camera angles cover your important areas (the change machine is number one) but also consider what will support the police in an investigation. (parking lots)

      – Have a Facebook and or other Social Media page. Be ready to use it and be able to post the information.

      – Work with your customers quickly if they have an issue. Some have the thoughts that they don’t want to post bad information about their stores on their pages. You can always take it down later but in this case the page was seen by more than the population of the city and my page Likes increased by over 10%.

      – Make it easy for the Police. I provided them a copy of all the raw video including the required Player file, still pictures of the suspects and vehicle, “ready to play” mp4 files of the best angle and the actual crime of them leaving the store and a “How To” page to explain the file names of the video files.

      Check back soon and I will post a video showing how I made the information for the Facebook posts and what I provided to the Police.

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

If you have any comments, please post them below.

Ken