Starting from scratch. Opening a new laundry or launderette 16 Jul 2018

Opening a new business from scratch is hard work. However, it is educational, stimulating and frustrating all at once. So if you are determined and willing to put in the effort you will get there… but it will not necessarily be an easy ride! Janice Raycroft talks to the main suppliers to find out about what you need to think about when starting out.

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As Mary Simons of AGS, the Essex-based washer and dryer specialists, explains: “Although we work in all areas of the laundry industry, our expertise is with launderettes and, although we have run a large chain of launderettes, we have never set one up ourselves from scratch, preferring to buy existing shops and improving them. “Starting a business from scratch is an expensive exercise (do not let anyone else tell you otherwise), but purchasing an existing business is usually a cheaper project, allowing you to put your stamp on the business and change machinery to ensure you offer your new customers the best wash and dry in the area.” Her advice is to ‘hang on in there’, which ever route you choose, with an aim to grow and open more outlets or even set up a franchise business; showing others how to do it. 

She also sings the praises of the trade organisations, including The National Association of the Launderette Industry (NALI). At AGS they envisage the cost of opening an average size launderette works out to an investment of between £60 to £70K, including the Electrolux equipment they supply. This includes everything apart from the interior/exterior decoration. They recently assisted Madge and Ken Dauris to set up a new launderette in Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire. 

Simons recalls: “It was in fact a dream of Madge’s, and she was determined to do it. The smart interior of The Laundry Hub is proving a very popular launderette. Apparently, there are very few launderettes in Aylesbury and The Laundry Hub has free parking outside (a must when heavy loads are involved). Ken and Madge thought very hard and long and I would imagine from conception to completion took the best part of two years. “AGS assisted and supported them throughout and we are still in regular contact. The Laundry Hub offer a collection and drop off service to properties within five miles of the launderette. Madge’s dream has come to fruition and it is onwards and upwards. 

We met up recently at CleanEx and Madge is still so very enthusiastic about her shop and had many new ideas in the pipeline; Ken and Madge never sit on their laurels!” While you’re doing all that attention to detail, such as legal requirements, space, technical requirements and equipment, never overlook essential issues which could make or break your business, say Armstrong Commercial Laundry Systems

As with most retail operations, location is key. For a launderette to thrive there must be a catchment area of at least 15,000, and preferably more. In areas where the catchment area is spread out, adequate parking is essential for those doing their own washing or for drop-off and collection of service washes – nobody wants to carry heavy laundry very far. Nearly two years ago the first Speed Queen branded launderette in the UK was opened in Ilford by Tharmalingam Senthuran, known locally as Senthu, with continuous support from Simon Rawle, territory manager at Armstrong.

"Attention to detail right from the start is something we’ll stress time and again"

The launderette, in a busy parade of shops alongside the A12 close to Gants Hill underground station looks clean, modern and attractive. It is not attended, so no service washes are offered, but there is a telephone number prominently displayed in case anyone needs help. The site is equipped with four 9kg and one 18kg washers and three stacked tumble dryers – giving six 13.6kg machines – and one 20.4kg dryer.

Prices and machine instructions are very clearly and simply displayed and there is a detergent and softener dispenser. All the machines are built into the wall but are accessible from behind via a staff only area for servicing and maintenance. “Since we opened, the level of business has really exceeded my expectations,” says Senthu. “Sometimes at weekends there are people queuing up for machines, and local hotels also use the unit. This area is largely residential, with a lot of new flats being built, and in winter it is very busy with people wanting to dry their laundry.”...(continued in full article)

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Brands featured in full article:

Armstrong Commercial Laundry Systems
Dane Realstar
MAG Laundry Equipment
Parrisianne Dry Cleaning Solutions
Renzacci UK
Total Fabric Solutions
Electrolux Professional UK
The Guild of Cleaners
The Textile Services Association

You’ll find the full article in the July-August edition of Laundry and Cleaning Today. Subscribe here for your copy:

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