By Bob Eisenberg | Jun 14, 2012
A growing trend among self-service laundries is to stay open ’round the clock – 24/7.
Personally, I have owned three laundromats – and two of the three were (and still are) open 24 hours. I also have built many, many more laundries for my customers, and several of them are 24-hour stores.
Let’s face it… we live in a 24-hour world. Just look at some of the other businesses within your marketplace that are probably open 24 hours. In my area, there are the 7-Eleven, some supermarkets, the Target, the Wal-Mart and many others – and most of these businesses are service-oriented, just like a coin laundry is.
After all, there are police officers, firefighters, foodservice workers, nurses and others within the healthcare field, construction workers, and many other professions that keep people up and working around the clock. And, often, many of these individuals will wrap up a 4-to-midnight shift and not be ready to go directly to sleep; some will seek out a laundromat where they can get their washing done while they unwind from work.
By being open 24 hours, you can spread out the business and perhaps move some of those customers who normally come on the weekend at busy times and get them to patronize you during “off hours,” which will allow more customers to come in during busy times and, thus, increase the overall volume of your store. And it makes many of your customers happy because they can do laundry “in peace” during those off hours.
My own experience is that the store will have some customers doing laundry until 2 a.m. to 3 a.m., and then business will be spotty until the early morning crowd arrives. During that lull, attendants can do the heavy cleaning without customers in their way. What’s more, the overnight workers can tackle any leftover wash-dry-fold or commercial laundry loads at this time, as well as finish any chores that might not get done during the day.
What does it cost to be open 24 hours? If you’re attended, it’s one more shift – eight hours at whatever you pay your attendants. Of course, a big benefit to being opening 24 hours is security. No one can break in if a store is open and it has an attendant on duty.
Is an attendant required to run a laundry business 24 hours? Not necessarily. There are stores in certain neighborhoods in certain markets that definitely are able to remain open 24 hours without an attendant. Of course, you will have to determine for yourself whether or not your store is one of these.
One of my store-owner customers would let a small number of his laundry customers register their personal information with him and, in return, he gave them a key so that they could access his laundromat at all hours and lock themselves in for security. And, after all, there was nothing there for them to steal. So, if you can somehow find a way to remain open 24 hours without an attendant, it’s a no-brainer.
What are some of the disadvantages of running a 24/7 operation? As noted earlier, you most likely have to pay another work shift, so you have to determine whether or not you can do enough added business to justify any added expenses. Again, that’s clearly your call.
Another possibility to keep in mind is that you may have to pay a “shift differential” – in other words, higher pay for night work. Moreover, you may have trouble finding attendants who are willing to work the night shift (although I never did).
Also, depending on your particular situation, running your coin laundry business 24 hours may cause you to incur increased insurance costs, so check on this with your carrier, as well as with the Coin Laundry Association.
One compromise some of my store-owner customers have made is to remain open 24 hours, but only on the weekends. For example, a store may be open Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to midnight, and then Friday from 6 a.m. through Monday at 6 a.m.
If you decide to keep your store open 24 hours, be sure to give it a good three months – and, to get the word out, actually advertise the fact that you’re open. Nothing happens overnight, so place signs in your store, send out flyers and perhaps consider a direct mail campaign.
When it comes to your business hours, there are no “rights” or “wrongs” – only what works for your specific business model and marketplace. And sometimes it pays to “put your toe in the water before jumping in.”