So you’re thinking of opening a laundromat! No doubt you’re aware it’s a stable industry (people always need clean clothes!) that generates passive income, with a high return on investment. But how much does it cost to open a laundromat? Of course, starting a small business of any kind requires quite a bit of planning. This article will dive into some of the nitty-gritty of opening a laundromat business, covering projected costs, insurance, loans, budgeting, and more.
Laundromat business model
The laundromat business model is straightforward: this is a place where people go to wash their clothes. Typically serving lower-income renters who may not have washer-dryers at home, laundromats are a fixture in the neighborhood, with 87% of customers living less than a mile away.
With an ROI (return on investment) of between 20-35%, laundromat businesses have a 94.8% success rate, bringing in a gross income anywhere from $30,000 to $1 million a year.
How much does it cost to open a laundromat?
On average, it costs between $200,000 and $500,000 to open a laundromat. It depends on whether you’re buying an existing laundromat or starting from scratch, as well as the average property prices in your city.
Property for your laundromat
First things first, you need a location! An average laundromat is 2,170 square feet. Depending on where you are, this will cost between $200,000-$500,000, and could be as much as $1 million or more.
Keep in mind that if you’re buying an existing laundromat with machines, the property will be more expensive, but you won’t have to invest in as much renovation or equipment purchase upfront.
Equipment and Supplies
Commercial washers and dryers cost between $800 – $2,600 apiece, and typically last 10-15 years. A typical laundromat will have between 40 and 100 washers and dryers, so with new machines you’re looking at a total cost of $32,000-$260,000.
Maintenance and repair on a machine will cost between $120 – $500 per service call.
You might also consider adding a card reader system, so that customers can pay via a laundry card (similar to a credit card) instead of carrying change. These systems typically cost between $40,000 – $80,000.
Other supplies and features to consider include laundry carts, cleaning equipment, garbage bins, clocks, signage, security cameras, soap, TVs, and Wifi (totalling $1000-$2000).
Even a laundromat is a business that’s built on water and electricity, utilities are going to be your largest ongoing expense, costing between $4,000-$8,500 a month.
Machines break, customers trip; you’ll want to make sure you have insurance to protect you in the event of unexpected costs. General liability is a great catch-all, covering property damage, injury, and advertising injury. On average, a laundromat in the USA will spend $350-$750 a year for $1 million coverage under general liability.
How to set up your business structure
As you dive into the legal end of owning a laundromat, you will need to decide what your business structure will be. There are four main structures:
- Sole proprietorship
- Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Keep in mind that with sole proprietorship, there is no legal distinction between you and your business. For most small businesses, an LLC can provide the most protection, making sure you are not personally held liable if your laundromat is sued.
Write a Business Plan
A standard business plan includes an overview of what your business is and does, a market analysis of how you compare to competitors, an overview of your company structure, your marketing strategy, and, of course, your budget. This will make a clear roadmap for your operations, and boost confidence from your investors.
Marketing and Advertising
Consider the concept and brand of your establishment. Will it be a 24-hour laundromat or run only during daytime hours? Will it offer full service (you do the washing/drying/folding), or be fully self-service, with no attendants at all? Will it be a hybrid model, such as a laundromat-cafe? This will determine how you advertise your new business and who your key demographic is.
In any case, you’ll want to let people know you exist. Put up clear signage, and add your business on google maps. You can also advertise on social media, hand out business cards, and hang flyers in the area.
How to choose a location for your laundromat
Choosing the right location for your laundromat is essential to the success of your business. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a location:
Consider the demographics of the area, such as population density, income levels, age range, and family size. A laundromat may be more successful in an area with a high population of renters or people who don’t have access to their own washing machines.
Visibility and Accessibility
Choose a location that is easily visible and accessible to potential customers. Look for a location on a busy street with high foot traffic, ample parking, and easy access from major roads.
Research the competition in the area and choose a location that is not too close to existing laundromats or other businesses that offer laundry services.
Size and Layout
Consider the size and layout of the location. You’ll need a space large enough to accommodate the washers and dryers, folding tables, seating, and storage. Make sure the layout allows for easy flow of customers and staff.
How to get funding and set up your business finances
You’ve got your concept, your business plan, and your location, now it’s time to get your start-up money! There are several options available to you.
- Traditional Commercial Loan
A traditional commercial loan from a bank will lend you money in exchange for collateral (such as property/equipment), which the bank will confiscate in the event of bankruptcy. Usually, commercial loans have a fixed amount, and are used for short-term funding – such as start-up costs.
- Business Line of Credit
A business line of credit (LOC) offers you access to a fixed pool of money you can use anytime you need. It’s a little like a credit card. You can borrow from your line of credit to cover short-term business expenses (eg. inventory, maintenance, supplies) and pay it back with interest on just the amount you’ve borrowed.
- Small Business Loan
The Small Business Administration (SBA) can guarantee a large percentage of your bank loan, which will make banks more likely to lend to you. Note that the SBA has requirements on top of regular bank loan requirements, and the application process can take some time.
Many entrepreneurs seek out investors to help finance their small businesses. Often, in exchange for their funding, investors will own a portion of your company. You can find investors in your personal circles of friends and family.
Open a Business Bank Account
You are running a business – you’ll need a business bank account. Not only is it important to keep your personal and professional finances separate, it demonstrates your businesses credibility to investors and customers alike.
Having a business bank account will also help you keep track of your finances. With NorthOne, for example, you can use the Envelopes feature to set aside funds for tax season, payroll, maintenance, and other expenses.
Set Up your Accounting
With your business bank account up and running, it’s time to set up an accounting method to track your bills, expenses, and revenues. Your NorthOne account can integrate with accounting software like Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Wave, to keep all your numbers in one place.
How much does a laundromat make a year?
An average gross income of a laundromat in the USA varies greatly, from $30,000 to over $1 million a year, according to the Coin Laundry Association. Once expenses are factored in, at the higher end the net profits could be as high as $350,000 a year.
Is owning a laundromat worth it?
The laundromat industry is highly stable, does not fluctuate with seasons or recessions, and enjoys quick payment turnarounds. If you keep the laundromat clean, the machines in good order, and offer good customer service, chances are you’ll see between 20-35% ROI (return on investment).
Can you get rich owning a laundromat?
While the initial investment is high, once you’re up and running you can expect to bring in up to $350,000 a year, much of it in passive income.