I own a small self-service laundry, and I’ve recently been considering adding to drop-off wash-dry-fold service to my business. Are those types of services profitable, or will I just be wasting my time and money?

Yes, wash-dry-fold services can be extremely profitable. Just as a very simple and basic example: if your 50-pound frontloaders are priced at $6.00 per wash, a self-service customer likely will spend between $7.00 to $7.25 to wash and dry a 50-pound load of laundry at your store. On the other hand, if you were to convert that same customer to your new drop-off service – and you’ve set your wash-dry-fold price to $1.00 per pound, for example – he or she would spend $50 on the same amount of laundry.

Of course, your level of success will depend partially on the specific demographics of your marketplace – and whether or not a decent percentage of your customer base has an interest in and a need for this type of service.

Also, you will need to factor in additional costs for (at the very least) labor; detergents, stain removers and other cleaning chemicals; a quality POS system; and items such as hangers and bags to finish your processed orders. Moreover, training your attendants to handle these drop-off orders professionally and consistently – from drop off through pick up – will require quite a bit of added time, especially as you begin to get your new venture off of the ground.

And don’t forget to promote your new laundry service. You will need to advertise this wash-dry-fold business on your website and through the various social media platforms with which you regularly engage – as well as through some of the more traditional methods, such as door hangers, flyers and ads in your local newspaper.

What’s more, I would suggest making a list of nearby businesses that may be in need of a laundry service. These can include retirement centers, hair salons, day spas, medical practices, bed and breakfasts, motels and so on. Make personal sales calls on these businesses. Get creative, and you very likely will make money with a wash-dry-fold business.

However, you have to put some time, money and effort into it. You can’t merely hang a sign in your store window and hope that your new drop-off service will take off. It won’t.

Due to the increasing costs of water and electricity, I’ve decided to eliminate the prewash and final rinse cycles on my machines. Unfortunately, my customers have begun to complain that they’re no longer receiving as good a wash and that they’re being shortchanged on the amount of wash time provided. What should I do?

The best course of action is to charge more money and give your customers a top-quality product. At the very least, reinstate the prewash cycle on your machines and/or lengthen the wash cycle by an additional four or five minutes. The prewash and wash cycles are what remove the dirt and stains from clothing – they are the most important parts of the process. Don’t compromise on quality. It’s OK to eliminate the final rinse if necessary, but never eliminate the prewash cycle.

My laundromat has a trough-type drain system, and it seems to have developed an odor problem. What can I do to get rid of these odors?

First of all, make sure that your vents are clear of any lint and other debris. Next, be certain to clean out the grill plate on a regular basis. Lastly, take a gallon of 5 percent chlorine bleach solution, pour it into the last washer opposite the drain, start the machine and let it run through a complete hot-water wash cycle.

Follow this same three-step procedure for every bank of washers in your store once a month, especially during the summer. This will clear up any odor issues you may be experiencing.

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