How Much Time Do I Actually Spend Running My Laundromats? Here’s The Answer.

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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.)

The Nitty-Gritty

Below are the hours I tracked beginning October 1st…

monthlytimegrid

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.

Recap…

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.

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7 thoughts on “How Much Time Do I Actually Spend Running My Laundromats? Here’s The Answer.

  1. Good for you. I love to see what you have accomplished with your ability to see a diamond in the rough. I am planing to make an offer on a laundry matt in Alberta Canada. I am hoping for success like yours. Keep us posted on your progress !! 😊 Thank you for sharing.

  2. We are in the process of scouting for our first Laundromat, and your blog posts have been very helpful. If I may ask, have you heard of freelaundromat.com and can you give any insight on it if possible? Thank you!

    1. First I’m going to tell you that you asked a bit of a loaded question without realizing it. 🙂 But I’m going to be honest. The method described by Danny with FreeLaundromat.com is possible, but not probable. Just like real estate investing with “no money out of pocket” is possible in the right circumstances, it’s a very slim possibility.

      His method involves finding a great location with ideal customer demographics where the landlord is so desperate for tenants that they will let you have your first six months rent free. Then you finance all new equipment from a distributor for no money down and interest-only payments for the first six months. And you end up with a business that is financed 100%. So you better hope that by the time month 7 comes, and your full rent is due and those lenders want their first sky-high loan payment paid, that you have built business up enough to support the debt. A new laundry that has no customer base on Day 1 + large loan payments = Ulcers.

      Cash flow will likely be minimal, and that is just for the folks that were actually able to find that scenario in an area that meets all of the demographic qualifications. Again, it’s just not likely.

      And while I have nothing against Danny personally, I don’t like the idea that he charges people $190 to divulge his “secrets” that are not likely for the average person to achieve. In fact, the statement on his website doesn’t say “If you don’t open your laundromat after buying my DVD, I’ll refund your money.” No, his “guarantee” is that when you DO finally open your laundromat, he will refund the purchase price. Don’t you think that if he had true confidence in his method that he would only refund if you weren’t successful? Nope, he only refunds your purchase price if you actually do it. He knows that the vast majority of folks will not end up opening their own laundromat, and he literally “banks” on that fact.

      That’s my two cents, and I’d venture to say that at this point he probably makes more money from his DVD sales than he does any laundromats he owns.

      1. I had those reservations. Like why would a landlord do that. Just makes no sense at all. But for the cash strapped like myself, I was willing to grab the straw that was dangling. Just from research and following blogs like yours, I feel like its a great business to get into, I just don’t know if I’m financially ready to do it. Thank you so much for your “two cents”, it’s what I was really needing to hear. Keep your blogs, they are truly informational and very helpful!

  3. How do future owners study the feasibility of opening another laundry-mat in a community? Let’s say the town of Huckleberry already has two busy laundries. Joe Doe opens a third one. To his surprise, a lady named Jane Smith was putting finishing touches on the same idea. Her laundry is now the 4th in town.

    1. Opening a new laundromat requires an equipment distributor. And those distributors usually have a vested interest in keeping their finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the local laundry scene. They don’t want to finance and install $500k in new equipment to find out another new laundry is going in across the street. Also, part of the due diligence on the part of an owner is to check local county/city business records to determine if any laundries are opening in your planned area.

      When we bought our first laundry, the broker had the scoop on what was going where all around town. He still to this day keeps us up-to-date on the latest happenings.

      But that is another reason why it’s so much riskier to open a new laundromat than to buy existing. There are too many additional unknowns when building new. In fact, a brand new store opened up about 5 miles from our laundries. Not in our immediate competition zone, but close enough. I’m sure the owner/builder thought he’d just come in and put everybody else out of business. He spent over $800k on that store, and it’s not doing nearly as well as he hoped it would. Because it was doing so poorly, he backed out of his deal to build a new store across the street from one of ours. 🙂

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