I just got into the laundromat business, and I’m considering installing an ATM in my store. My question is whether I’m better off buying a machine outright and installing it myself, or having an outside vendor own and install the ATM, with some type of commission arrangement. What do you think?

If you purchase an ATM and install it yourself, you have the potential to make more money. However, you also will be saddled with the additional responsibility for maintaining and repairing the machine, as well as for any loss issues you or your customers may experience.

On the other hand, if an outside vendor owns and installs the ATM, that vendor is completely responsible for everything.

It’s your business and your decision. But my advice would be to let an outside vendor install your ATM. Over the years, I’ve known laundromat owners who have lost up to $10,000 to scammers and thieves breaking into their ATMs. So, think about what’s best for you and your overall laundromat business.

I have a very nice laundromat business that’s located in a 10-store shopping center. Unfortunately, within the last year, half of the center has become empty. And, as the other tenants leave, my laundry business has been declining. The center has become a bit like a ghost town, but my rent is still increasing, according to the original terms of the lease. Do I have any recourse with regard to the rent rate?

Yes, you do. The amount of rent you were paying was based on the consumer activity at the center. That activity provided your laundromat with exposure to the many people who frequented that shopping space. After all, each store in a shopping mall brings customer traffic and business to the other businesses in that center. Therefore, the benefit of being in a particular shopping center diminishes greatly when the storefronts are empty or even partially empty.

My advice to you is to have a discussion with your landlord about renegotiating the terms of your lease to reflect a less expensive rent rate. Remember that well-run laundromats are valuable commodities and can serve as anchors of their shopping centers, attracting repeat customers to their locations on a regular basis.

Of course, as with all issues related to your lease, talk to your attorney and other business advisors first. However, from what you told me about the shopping center and the landlord’s tenant situation, I don’t think you’ll receive very much pushback with regard to a rent adjustment.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, my laundry business has dropped about 15 percent. Do you think it will pick up when the virus is under control? Initially, I was under the impression that my business would increase during the pandemic because so many people have become more cleanliness- and hygiene-conscious due to the virus outbreak. But my business actually went down. What do you think?

There are many factors at play here and, of course, each laundromat and each laundry marketplace is very different. However, I believe that one of the major reasons business has dropped for a lot of laundromat owners is because so many kids haven’t been in school or even outside very much, and a large portion of adults are working remotely from home or they’re not working at all. Clearly, when people stay home, they don’t dirty as many clothes or need to change clothing as often, which can limit the number of trips to the laundromat.

Obviously, this is just one variable in a complex situation. But, all in all, active kids and working adults are who create the laundry on which this industry thrives.

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