By Bob Meuschke | Jul 01, 2009
Owning a number of self-service laundries is the dream of many single-store operators. And, no doubt, growing the business and adding new locations is a part of several new laundry owners’ long-term business plan.
But, before signing the lease on that second store, you first need to look deep down into your soul and ask yourself a few very important questions:
• Do I personally finish things that I start?
• Do I communicate clearly?
• Am I willing to accept a larger amount of responsibility, as well as pass on certain responsibilities?
• Am I able to manage myself?
To truly be capable of successfully and profitably running more than one store, you have to be able to honestly answer “yes” to all of those questions. For those of you who can, let’s continue. Below is a 13-step checklist to get you on the path to multi-store ownership:
1. You must have written employee standards. Sometimes with just one store, you can be lax with regard to certain rules and regulations, but that’s not the case with more than one. Customers and employees alike need to see uniformity.
2. You must have standards for solving customer problems.
3. You must have a chain of command planned in advance and in place on Day One, not something you come up with on the fly.
4. You must be disciplined enough to follow through on your commitments to your attendants and customers.
5. Your paperwork for all of the stores should be identical so that you can move employees around to other locations as needed, with little or no training required.
6. You must devise – and stick to – a clear, defined plan for all of your keys at the different laundry locations.
7. Do not have all of your changers keyed alike.
8. Do not have all of your front doors and office doors keyed alike.
9. Be careful about carrying money in and out of your stores. Conceal it in a briefcase or a gym bag. Also, don’t carry it around the same way or at the same time for each collection at every store.
10. Always have “floating” help ready and available. Have attendants on hand who are able to staff any of your locations for any shift and capable of finishing out that particular shift.
11. Never plan yourself to staff a specific shift. Almost without fail, that is when you will have problems at another location, but you’ll be stuck working your shift.
12. Although this goes for single stores as well, it’s crucial with more than one laundry – your managers must be 110 percent trustworthy and loyal.
13. You must realize that weekends in this industry are typically the busiest times, so you need to decide in advance how “available” you want to be on the weekends, either by phone or in person. Personally, if that’s my busiest time, that is when I want to be the first person called with a problem.
These should be the first steps taken in operating and managing multiple self-service laundries. Remember, not everyone can do it, and not everyone wants to do it. But for those who do, multi-store ownership can be incredibly fulfilling and profitable.