We own laundromats. We get a lot of questions.
By far one of the most common is: “How much time per week do you actually spend running two unattended laundromats?” I usually shoot back with my standard “10 to 12 hours a week”. But since I don’t know exactly, I decided to track my time for a month and see where it falls.
Exciting stuff, am I right?
But First, Some Background…
When we bought our first store, there were some “problem” machines in the back; four big washers and a whole row of eight stack dryers (“stack” dryers just means there are two dryers in one unit; one on the top and one on the bottom).
They were on their last leg and occupying a lot of my time. It seemed like I was getting calls almost daily because one of those washers wasn’t starting or one of the dryers wasn’t getting hot.
Within six months of ownership, we replaced those four washers and eight dryers with brand new machines. Service calls dropped to almost zero over night. That sure freed up a lot of my time!
Fast forward to the purchase of our second store. Same problem. Almost daily calls for the dryers not working. And these were even worse than the dryers in our first store. In August we replaced those dryers with new ones. My calls went from daily to maybe one a month.
So, is my time worth the cost of the new machines? As long as the store can cover the payments, you better believe it. In fact, bringing in new equipment always increases traffic/profits to the store. We still haven’t done any advertising for our second store and we are already seeing a forty percent income increase in our daily average. Forty percent!
Not too shabby.
It’s safe to say that the condition of the equipment will directly affect how much time you spend running your laundromat. When we purchased both of our stores, we went in knowing that some machines would need to be replaced soon after purchase.
(Side Note: Getting new equipment is easy, almost too easy actually. Your dog could probably qualify for financing. Our second store was barely breaking even and they still approved us for $50,000 in new dryers.)
Below are the hours I tracked beginning October 1st…
For the month of October 2016, I spent a total of 32.6 hours in my stores. This does not count the minimal minutes of time on the phone with customers or occasional time spent at my local hardware store.
A Couple Things to Mention
- Six hours 45 minutes of the above were spent on major repairs where I had to call in help. I had to have a bearing replaced on a machine and I don’t have the tools to complete that job.
- In my older store, the base at the bottom that holds down a row of six 20lb washers came loose. So when one of these machines went into extract (spin) mode, it looked and sounded like an earthquake. (Seriously. It was pretty cool to watch on video actually). I hired a professional to reattach the bases, so I was there for several hours with him while he worked.
- I was out of town the last weekend of the month, but I hired a friend to cover the stores while I was gone. He had to go in twice for a total of 20 minutes, so I included that time in my calculation as well.
- Miscellaneous could be anything from dealing with business license renewals to accounting work.
On average, I spent just over eight hours a week running my two stores. Time spent doing collections is pretty consistent; twice a week. But I vary the days and times to avoid being predictable. The occasional big maintenance projects, such as vacuuming and deep cleaning of the dryers and projects to improve the efficiency and functionality of my machines, are scheduled but infrequent.
Those occasional “big” items will skew the time spent upwards a bit, but there are other times when I end up spending an unusually small amount of time tending to the stores, so it averages out pretty well.
So there you have it. A typical month in the life of laundromat ownership. It’s not “hands-off”, but eight hours a week running two businesses is a pretty good number if you ask me.