Due to the high cost of water, I recently eliminated the last two rinses on all of my washers. My machines are now set to deliver a prewash, a wash cycle, and one rinse cycle. Did I make a mistake, or is everyone doing this these days?

Honestly, I don’t know of any other laundry owner who is offering just one rinse cycle. In the long run, it is a mistake, because you really need at least two rinses. If you are rinsing garments just once, most of the detergent, bleach and soil will remain within the fibers of those items. After all, you’re rinsing in cold water, which contracts the fabric fibers that then hold onto much of the dirt and chemicals. This is why most of the leading manufacturers set their washers for three rinses. You could probably get by with just two rinses, but definitely not one.

The best solution to rising water costs is to reasonably increase your vend prices. If you continually take away quality every time your costs go up, eventually you will have nothing left to offer your customers or attract new ones.

I currently have three self-service laundries, and I would like to build one more store. However, the rent and real estate taxes are so high that I’m not sure if it’s worthwhile. What do you think?

Each situation is different. And there are steps you can take alleviate some of those rent and tax costs.

For example, you can purchase less square footage, but install larger-capacity machines – such as more 40-, 60- and 80-pound washers – which will increase your income per square foot. I have seen this tactic work nicely for several laundry owners.

However, before you jump into anything, understand that there are three keys to choosing winning laundromat site. The first – and most important – factor is the location. Do your homework and find a great location to build your store.

The second key is parking. Today, a large percentage of your business is going to occur from Friday through Sunday. If your parking lot is small, your customers and potential customers will go elsewhere on those “bread-and-butter days.”

The third key is your equipment mix. You need a proper mix of machines in your store for the type of customers who will be frequenting your business. The reason I list the equipment mix as the third most important item is because you can always adjust your machine mix – but you can’t adjust your location or your parking availability.

Above all, remember that a good location is the most important factor to your success, and it should more than make up for any rent or tax increases.

I do a lot of drop-off laundry at my store, but lately I’ve had trouble with mildew stains. What is the proper way of removing mildew?

There are two types of mildew stains – green and black.

If the stains are green, you should wash the garments in hot water with a strong, high-quality chlorine bleach. Then, immediately re-wash the items in a normal wash cycle using detergent. Do not dry the clothes after that first hot-water wash – go directly into the second wash cycle.

If the mildew stains are black, soak the items overnight in hot water and chlorine bleach. Then, remove the garments while still wet and run them through a normal wash cycle.

I have a customer who didn’t pay me, yet now has clean and folded laundry. I picked it up, washed it, dried it, folded it, and dropped it off. My price is clearly stated on my website; this price includes detergent and dryer sheets. I have called him twice, but have received no response. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can get this customer to pay?

A personal call or even visiting the client in person are probably the best ways to handle such a situation. However, if this doesn’t work, I would mail the customer a 30-day notice, stating that if the garments in question are not paid for within that time period, you might be forced to file a small claims form. In your 30-day request, ask if the client was unhappy or dissatisfied with the finished product in any way, as this likely might be the reason he or she is not paying.

If non-payment for your laundry services continues to be a problem, perhaps you should institute a pre-pay policy so that you’re not confronted with the same situation in the future.

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