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Tips of the Trade: Planning Your Laundry for Full-Service Work

A growing number of vended laundries offer full-service wash-dry-fold and or residential/commercial laundry services. And for good reason. Through this diversification of services, laundries can better penetrate their demographic and geographical service area for additional revenue and profit! But, to do it well, planning is essential. So, if your goal is to develop or renovate a vended laundry — and design it to maximize full-service work — peruse the following planning tips before jumping in …

Evaluate The Lease

If you’re leasing a space for your laundry, consult people in the business to negotiate your lease. Get several legal opinions before signing. Be certain a competitive laundry cannot move in next door in the same strip mall, for example, because this happens and could be detrimental to your business, even if it performs well.

Space

Plan for extra space inside your vended laundry, or near your store, to house the right equipment and store linens before and after processing. If you plan to launch commercial laundry processing for vacation rentals, spas, hair salons, small hotels, catering companies and restaurants, a flatwork ironer is also critical. You’ll need about a 200-square-foot space dedicated to the installation and operation of a 13-inch flatwork ironer. I recommend an additional 100-200 square feet of shelving for storage.

Point-Of-Sale (POS)

If you really want to grow your business efficiently, a POS for full-service work is an absolute necessity. Look for one that includes a website for your business — making online orders and tracking simple. A good website is essential for marketing and managing full-service offerings. A POS not only allows customers to schedule and pay for wash-dry-fold services online, or via their phones, it simplifies management and tracks payments, laundry processing, scheduling and deliveries.

Equipment Needs

If you only want to offer residential wash-dry-fold, you can get away with using basic vended washers and dryers. Just be sure you have plenty of them. But, if your intent is to process both residential and commercial laundry, commercial washer programmability and automatic chemical injection are essential to generate consistent, high-quality results. So is a flatwork ironer for ironing flat goods. Residential customers and commercial businesses will be happy to pay more for this premier service.

Washers — Choose highly programmable washers with automatic chemical injection capabilities and programmable water temperatures. This is because it’s difficult to get consistent, quality results using preprogrammed vended cycles. Body oil, lotions and food stains are very difficult to remove using the one- or two-rinse cycles typical of vended programming. The good news? There are vended washers on the market that do double-duty. Continental Girbau’s ExpressWash® and Genius Series® washers come standard with automatic chemical injection capabilities. They can also switch from vended to sophisticated commercial programming that allows you to process just about anything. The ExpressWash machines have this capability when used with the CCI FasCard system. Laundry attendants can use the card to automatically switch the machines from vended to commercial programming. The new Genius Washers automatically switch from vended to commercial programming using any payment system.

Ironer — A flatwork ironer quickly and automatically irons bed sheets, pillowcases and table linens — allowing your laundry to service bigger accounts that require high-quality linen finishing. Look for a compact ironer that is simple to operate with a wax-less design. For example, Continental Express Ironers properly finish linens without the need for dryer conditioning or messy wax application and removal. They automatically iron linens straight from the washer — eliminating any dryer time — using two operators. Because you’re bypassing the dryer step, you will also boost productivity and reduce gas and electricity consumption..

Maximum Efficiency

The cost of natural gas reached its highest point last year since 2008, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and is expected to climb 30 percent this winter over last winter. In Southern California, gas prices just jumped 315 percent, making it the biggest increase yet. So, it remains imperative to plan for maximizing efficiency.

Ozone — One way to do this is through ozone. Ozone is a gas, that when injected into the wash cycle, sanitizes laundry, activates wash chemistry, relaxes fibers for improved removal of dirt, stains and grease, and works best in cool water. It reduces fabric wear and lowers utility costs. While ozone cuts gas bills and provides sanitization (a big plus for customers), it can also damage certain types of washers. So, be sure the washers you choose are ozone compatible.

High-Speed Washers — A second way to reduce gas costs is by choosing high-speed, soft-mount washers that produce extract speeds between 350 and 450 G-force. High-speed machines remove more moisture from laundry during extract, which cuts resulting drying time by up to 50 percent or more. And, since dryers consume loads of natural gas, high-speed washers also drastically cut natural gas costs. A side benefit? Customers complete laundry faster.

Pick-Up And Delivery

Determine if your services will include pick-up and delivery based on your demographic. Pick-up and delivery is a fast-growing trend sparked by dual-income households and the recent pandemic. It also helps protect you in the event there’s another pandemic and the self-service side of your business gets shut down. Analyze your service area and keep it relatively tight to start to ensure gas and labor costs don’t eat away profit. You’ll need trained employees and a delivery vehicle. Start with a few customers or key commercial accounts and improve processes as you grow. Your POS system should help you manage and track every order.

Consult Your Equipment Distributor Early On

Good equipment distributors are familiar with the local vended laundry market and can lead you through the laundry planning process. Be sure to discuss your goals related to full-service work well ahead of time and visit laundries that do it well.

 

Tod Sorensen is a regional business manager at Girbau North America and vice president of Continental Girbau West, a full-service distributorship serving the Southern California, Arizona and New Mexico vended, on-premise and industrial laundry markets. He holds more than 20 years of experience in vended laundry development and market analysis. Please contact him with any questions at tsorensen@gnalaundry.com or call 866-950-2449.

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