How to Open a Successful Launderette

Starting up a launderette can be a daunting prospect, especially if you’re a laundry novice. But by following a few simple steps, the process can be made much more simple than you might have thought. To Peter Marks, washing was once an alien concept, but with JLA's help, setting up his ‘total laundry centre’ was easy.

“Before I opened up, I’d never turned on a washing machine in my life – I ran a bakery and a fish & chip shop, and I was not domesticated at all. It just goes to show that anyone can start up a launderette!”  

Here are Peter’s top tips for a successful start-up:  

“Only work with the best suppliers”
I spoke to two laundry machine providers who were unhelpful to say the least and only wanted to ‘shift boxes’ – one even admitted that they ‘didn’t care’ where I got my service support from! Luckily, JLA came along and took care of everything for me. My consultant Andrew Scott has his own shop, which he took me to and literally walked me through the whole set-up needed for a successful launderette. I had lots of questions, but he had all the answers, and once I made the decision to work with JLA he made sure the layout planning, delivery and installation was completely hassle-free. Even now, I think of him as my ‘Laundry Doctor’ and just pick up the phone to him if I ever have a problem or need advice. Training was also provided, so all my staff can offer great customer service too.

“Think big”

My JLA washers enable me to get through large loads quickly, which means I can take more revenue over the course of a day. And my stacked dryers give me up to triple the capacity that would be possible from single machine units, without taking up any extra floor space. It all adds up capacity-wise, and means we can take on contract work as well as seasonal ‘bulk’ work for sports teams and so on. During the All Blacks’ European tour, they stayed and trained here in Aylesbury... and chose us to do their kit washes! On one occasion, we took on 42 black sacks of laundry, which we were able to turn around in 24 hours. We also did service washes for the Saudi Arabian team during the London Paralympics.

“Become a part of the community”

We sponsor a local football team, and so we’re involved in the social aspect of the local area which has a population of 70,000. It helps get our name out there, and of course we have a little extra business every weekend when the muddy kits come in.

“Don’t underestimate publicity”

Advertise online and put your business into as many web directories as possible, and make sure you offer a one-stop laundry solution. I had flyers made up to advertise the fact that we do duvets, and we’re now washing 30-40 a week!

“Always go the extra mile”

We could quite easily have installed a vending machine in the shop, but I prefer to make my customers a cup of tea or coffee and have a chat while their loads are in. I get to know people which is the main benefit, but it also means people want to come back again and again... and tell their friends about The Lost Sock too. Providing free parking is also a must, to attract more busy customers, and you should never have a minimum order – if it needs washing, wash it!

“Become a member of NALI”

JLA advised me to go to an event put on by The National Association for the Launderette Industry, which I did. I got a real feel for what I needed to look out for, which coupled with JLA’s advice ensured I had everything in place before I opened my shop.

“Visit other launderettes”

My visit to Andrew’s shop was invaluable, and I’d recommend doing the same to other prospective shop owners. My doors are always open too, for anyone who wants to see JLA’s first-class equipment.

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