How To Start a Laundry Business (With Skills and Tips)
Updated March 10, 2023
Owning and operating a laundry business can be a worthwhile venture, as it can provide stable income with minimal risk of failure compared to other business models. Before starting your own laundry business, understanding the different types of laundry services and steps necessary for starting in the field are important for determining if it's the right path for you. If you're interested in starting your own business as an entrepreneur, it may be beneficial to learn about the operations that go into a laundry business to decide if the industry is a worthy option to consider for your venture.
In this article, we define the different types of laundry businesses, explain why an entrepreneur may want to start one, list some of the skills required for succeeding in the industry, provide a step-by-step guide for starting your own laundry business and offer some tips to help you get started in your laundry service career.
What is a laundry business?
A laundry business is a venture that involves providing laundry equipment or services for paying customers. There are three main types of laundry businesses:
One of the most common types of laundry businesses is a self-service laundromat, which is a brick and mortar storefront that contains multiple washing and drying machines that clients can use for a fee. Laundromats are especially popular in larger cities, where living spaces are smaller and tend to be incapable of accommodating the space necessary for storing this machinery. With these types of businesses, the customers are responsible for keeping track of their items and often pay using coins.
Wash-and-fold laundry services
Another common type of laundry business involves the employees of the business doing the actual washing and drying of clothes for paying customers. This type of laundry business can function out of a brick and mortar storefront or out of owner's personal residence. A typical laundry service business transaction involves the customer dropping off their laundry, after which employees wash, dry and fold the clothes before the client returns to pay and pick up their belongings.
Dry cleaning is also a common type of laundry business that involves cleaning delicate garments using chemical solutions instead of water. Dry cleaning is a popular business in high-income areas where clients may have more financial means to pay for these special services. Many dry cleaners also offer other services besides their standard washing and drying procedures, such as tailoring, folding and ironing of clothes.
Why start a laundry business?
There are several reasons people choose to start their own laundry businesses:
One of the main reasons people decide to open up a laundry business is the constant demand for clean clothes. Many people want to look presentable in their daily lives, with clean, ironed clothing being a common signal of a professional and organized life. Others simply need access to laundry machines, especially if they live in a space without in-unit washers and dryers. People are always going to want to have clean clothes, and some are willing to pay considerable prices to avoid the responsibility of washing, drying, folding or ironing their clothes too.
Starting a laundry business can be a relatively straightforward process. For those who want to open up a storefront, they must first find a location to rent and purchase the appropriate machinery. Many self-service laundromats can function with minimal staff, as the customers are the ones who do all of their own laundry services. If you're running a laundry business out of your personal residence, all you need are washers, dryers, the ability to keep track of different orders and attention to the washing and drying instructions for specific garments.
If you're running your laundry business from your home, you can enjoy the benefit of not having to commute to a storefront or other work location. This can give you increased flexibility in your schedule, in which you can take care of other tasks and chores in between your laundry duties. For example, a person running a laundry services business out of their home can load a client's laundry into the washing machine and go pick up their child from school, go to the grocery store or attend a doctor's appointment without compromising their job.
Ability to specialize
The laundry service industry also offers entrepreneurs the ability to specialize in a distinct type of laundry. For example, there are some laundry businesses that specialize in medical laundry, which includes scrubs, white coats and healthcare linens and gowns. Others may specialize in hospitality, such as hotel bed linens, restaurant cloth napkins and employee uniforms. Specialization offers the ability to provide unique services with minimal competition, which can increase their overall revenue and stability as a business.
Skills for starting a laundry business
Here are some of the main skills you may need to succeed when starting a laundry business:
Organization skills are an important part of owning and operating any business, but especially those having to do with laundry services. It's important that laundry service workers to keep track of client orders and their respective garments to ensure they can provide the appropriate services based on the customer's requests. It's also vital that laundry workers avoid the possibility of returning the wrong garments to the wrong clients, which they can ensure by maintaining an organized work environment where they label piles of garments by client name or order number.
Attention to detail
Attention to detail is another important skill for anyone looking to work in the laundry business. Laundry workers use attention to detail when organizing client orders to ensure they don't accidentally place garments in an incorrect pile. They also use attention to detail when washing and drying garments with specific laundry procedures. For example, certain materials cannot withstand the heat of a standard dryer, which would require the laundry worker to separate this item of clothing from the washed garments and hang it up to air dry instead.
Laundry and garment knowledge
A laundry business employee should have the necessary knowledge to differentiate between different types of fabrics and materials. This is a helpful skill as it guarantees that they can service the client's garments appropriately, following the right procedures to ensure that the garment's quality remains intact. Many laundry businesses also offer other garment-related services such as tailoring and stain removal, so it's important that employees are familiar with the industry techniques and procedures necessary for handling these client requests.
Efficiency is an important laundry business skill, as the workers for these establishments may have multiple orders to take care of at one time. Most laundry businesses give their clients a date and time when their orders will be ready for pickup, so it's crucial that they meet their own standards and complete orders within the timeframe they agreed upon with the client. Many of the tasks involved in operating a laundry business, such as folding and ironing, can be time-consuming, so it's important that employees can complete these tasks efficiently while still providing quality service.
Like many other business models, those who work for laundry businesses use customer service skills throughout much of their daily work operations. For those running a laundry business out of their home, it's important that they have a quick response time to client calls, emails, texts and other forms of communication to ensure they're meeting their requests. For those working in storefronts, being able to provide friendly and informative assistance to clients can make a substantial difference in the venture's success, as this can make clients more likely to recommend the business to others.
How to start a laundry business
Here are some steps you can follow to start your own laundry service business:
1. Research the industry
The first step when starting a laundry business is to learn about the laundry business. It's important to understand the different business models that make up the laundry industry before choosing one for your business. There are organizations dedicated to laundry business, such as the Coin Laundry Association (CLA) and Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA) that can provide industry resources and information for those entering the field for the first time.
2. Choose a business model
After you've learned about the laundry industry, you can choose the type of laundry business you want to operate, whether that be a self-service laundromat, wash-and-fold services or dry cleaning. Consider the types of services you want to provide to clients and other important elements, such as location and budget. Whichever model you choose, it's important to gather as much information on that specific type of business as possible to ensure that you're providing high-quality service and fostering a stable structure for your business.
3. Acquire materials
Once you've decided on the model for your laundry business, the next step is to acquire the materials necessary for the business to succeed. This includes washers, dryers, clothes irons, hangers, garment bags, steamers, detergent and bleach, all of which contribute to the quality of service you can provide your customers. If you're opening a brick-and-mortar laundry business, you may also need to purchase additional equipment such as benches, chairs, coin collectors, coin dispensers, cleaning supplies and cash registers that are also necessary for the business to run.
4. Market your business
Marketing your business is an important step, as it's what can inform potential clients of your services. When advertising your business, consider posting about it on social media. If you're searching for employees to work in your new business, you can use job searching sites like Indeed to list the qualifications for different positions. If you have funds for it, you can market your business with other forms of media like newspaper ads, television ads, radio ads and by creating business cards.
Tips for starting a laundry business
Here are some tips you can follow as a guide when trying to start your own laundry business:
Practice your skills: Before starting a laundry business, practice some of the basic laundry skills that go into the venture, such as washing, drying, folding and ironing garments. Try to learn about different fabrics and materials that require special care, including those that aren't compatible with machine dryers or require specific dry cleaning services.
Consider your location: The location of your laundry business can have a significant impact on its success, especially if you're catering to a specific group or demographic. For example, if you're planning on opening a coin laundromat, you may benefit from working out of a storefront in a city where most of the residents live in apartments, as these people are less likely to have in-unit washers and dryers.
Add specializations: Another way to expand your laundry business is to add specializations to your services. Consider specializing in medical, hospitality or uniform laundry services to ensure you always have an in-demand clientele with minimal competition.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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