I've been asked by a friend who owns a hair salon to wash his towels. What suggestions do you have as far as pricing, pickup, delivery and packaging for this service?
As far as the pricing is concerned, there are two ways you can go. You can price your services by the pound or by the piece. If you're going to price by the piece, the average towel typically brings in anywhere from $1 to $2; this price includes pickup, washing and delivery. If you're going to use a per-pound pricing schedule, your minimum price should be in the neighborhood of $1.25 to $1.80 per pound.
As far as the packaging, it's best to package the towels in a clear plastic bag and to tape the sides. If you have a decent volume of business, there are various packaging machines that utilize packaging film and a heat process to seal the seams; however, for the type of volume that a typical self-service laundry will attract, you're probably better off using a clear plastic bag that you can either tape or bind with string. Of course, the towels should be neatly folded in a symmetrical manner before being placed into any type of packaging.
Regarding your pickup service, consider offering a pickup bag, which could be either cloth or nylon. And if you have more than one account, be sure to color-code them. For instance, Account A would have a yellow bag, Account B would have a red bag, Account C would have a blue bag and so on. This is a great way to keep your commercial towel accounts in order. I would definitely offer pick-up bags to your accounts for just that reason – it would be easier for you to pick up and deliver.
Lastly, establish some sort of minimum order. After all, you don't want to have to pick up a dozen towels, where you are charging maybe $1.50 per towel, and then spend $5 in gas getting back and forth to this account. This is where the minimum charge comes in.
Typically, self-service laundry operators who cater to these types of commercial accounts require a $15 or $20 pick-up fee. Thus, if the poundage or number of pieces (depending on how you price your services) don't add up to that amount, you'll charge that set pick-up fee anyway. You must be mindful of these issues when taking on commercial business. Otherwise, you could end up doing a lot of running around town for very few pounds of laundry – and you can actually lose money. Therefore, it is wise to establish some sort of minimum load – similar to what many laundry operators do with their wash-dry-fold business.
I had a “handshake” lease agreement with the owner of the shopping center in which my coin laundry was located. This worked well for years, until the owner declared bankruptcy. The court-appointed attorney evicted me, and he claimed that all of my laundromat equipment is considered to be a part of the “fixtures.” As such, the equipment was deemed a part of the real estate, and the attorney demanded that I leave the laundromat in working condition.
The landlord has since sold the center to a new owner – with my laundromat still intact. What do you think of that?
First of all, I’m surprised. Most of the time, landlords want everything removed because it’s a bit costly to remove the equipment, especially if they’re going to use the premises for some other purpose.
I’m not sure exactly what the laws are in your state. But my understanding is that, in most states, laundry equipment is not considered part of the fixtures. The only claim the landlord would have is on the plumbing to which the laundry equipment was attached, as well as to some of the heating and air conditioning units. However, any type of vending machine or mechanical device should be considered equipment and not a fixture – and therefore be deemed the property of the laundry owner.
I would contact a local attorney immediately.