How to open a
vended laundry

cesta lavandería autoservicio

Index

Interior of a well-designed self-service laundry
We could give you many reasons for getting into the market by opening a vended laundry, but the main one is enthusiasm. Enthusiasm for enterprise, for having your own business, for achieving maximum profitability and improving it in every detail because nowadays a laundry can be whatever you want it to be.

Another important reason is the good health of the laundry sector in Spain.. According to the most recent figures in the sector, in the years 2014-2019 the sector was characterised by its stability, vended laundries being the main drivers of growth within it.

Over this period, both the number of laundries and total turnover in the sector grew considerably, making clear the good health of this kind of business and the increase in demand by consumers.

Some of the keys to this growth and success include the location of businesses, the involvement of their owners, designing a solid strategy and choosing a good supplier to support and advise you during the process of launching your vended laundry.

In this respect Girbau stands out as the choice of the vast majority of entrepreneurs as their trusted supplier.

Laundries have to offer their clients solutions and make life as easy as possible for them, but they also have to be a place for creativity and innovation where you can add your personal touch and gain numerous advantages, among which the following stand out:


High profitability


Self-service laundry: high profitability business

This profitability is reflected in figures for the sector, which indicate continued growth for businesses of this kind, partly driven by features like the following:

A moderate initial investment

that enables you to pursue your project without having to apply for very large loans and therefore working under high financial pressure.

Rapid return on investment

As a general rule, a vended laundry takes between 3 and 5 years to recoup the investment in it.

Low running costs.

As will be seen below, fixed and variable costs are not so high and can be borne and recouped quickly and easily.

Technology.

Technological innovations not only allow growth and improvement in the service offered in the laundry, but also help you to cut the time you spend as the owner, because you can manage and control the technology from home.


Small number of hours required


Small number of hours required, allowing you to do other jobs or run other businesses, as well as enjoying more free time instead of devoting all your time to your business.

Simple business.

This is a key factor in explaining the low number of hours you have to put in. At a vended laundry it is the client who does the work, because you are offering them full automation so that they do not need human help or support.


Adapting the service to your users: you can make your business fit your vision and your public.


Another key factor when deciding to open a vended laundry is the flexibility it offers and the way it adapts to users’ needs.

The basic service involves enabling clients to wash and dry their linen, saving them time and money, but as added value you can adapt to your public in many ways, by providing recreation or rest areas, additional services such as home collection or delivery or vending machines on the premises selling both food and drink and cleaning products.

3d model self service laundry

We want to show the benefits and satisfaction that opening a vended laundry can bring, but we also hope that after reading this content you will be clear about the basics and the stages you have to go through to achieve the final goal of having your own laundry.

Let us look at it step by step:


Advice


First of all, and very important, getting the right advice is getting the right advice to form a detailed vision of everything you need to undertake the process.

For this it is essential to have someone you trust to support you at all times, as the path to completing the project and starting up your business is a long one.

As a starting point you need legal advice to know (if you do not already) the requirements imposed by the authorities to open and run your vended laundry business.

But beyond this starting point, at each stage along the way doubts will arise and you will need advice on:

  • Choosing the premises
  • Designing the plan
  • Buying the machiner
  • Conducting a study of the competition and of the viability of your own business
  • The area of marketing

Our recommendation is for your machinery supplier to support you throughout this process and this is why Girbau offers the option of this advice service for our customers.

Open your own vended laundry

Location


Location is one of the main factors in the success of a laundry. Location means much more than finding premises available or with enough space to install all that is required. Therefore, before deciding where to site your business, it is really important to conduct a study of the market in which the following points are assessed:

  1. The density of traffic of people and vehicles: The ideal thing is for the laundry to be in a place where about 50 people pass by every 5 minutes, on average and including pedestrians and cars.
  2. High population density:as in the above point, the fact of locating the laundry in a neighbourhood with a large population is always a point in its favour. However, what matters is not just a large population but also its features, as age range, socio-economic status and lifestyle are some of the variables that will define your target audience.
  3. Parking: this seems obvious, but it is often ignored and not all clients can come on foot because of issues of distance or weight, so having somewhere easy to park nearby is a big point in favour.
  4. A safe, clean area: this is something important for all businesses and vended laundries are no different. The client must feel safe leaving their linen in the wash and being able to go and do something else, or simply staying in the laundry without anything to be worried about.
  5. Wide pavement: another of the key factors that we can easily see as pedestrians. Wide pavements have more traffic and raise the profile of the visual side: signs, vinyls, posters and so on.
  6. Position: regarding the visibility of the business, there are some key points. Premises on a corner are always more visible as the public can see them from different streets and from different angles.
  7. Accessibility: avoid stairs or upstairs premises as they represent barriers to clients.

It is true that these features apply primarily to high street premises. However, other locations can be just as successful, such as for example in shopping centres, petrol stations, campsites, supermarkets, hotels and so on. In each case certain points must be stressed to execute the process successfully.


Premises


Premises plans for self-service laundry

In line with the above point, when choosing premises all these factors should be taken into account, along with others related to the visual appearance, the interior of the premises and whether to buy or rent them.

The size of premises of this kind tends to vary from 40 to 80 square metres and this will be essential when assessing how much to pay to buy or rent them. For example, you could set an approximate rent of €700 for 60 m2 of floor space, or €900 for 80 m2.
These amounts will vary depending on the area, the city and the number of potential clients.

In terms of profitability, it is most advisable to take out a long-term rental contract (at least 10 years) or to actually buy the premises.

Apart from this financial question, other issues need taking into account, including:

  • Having an outlet for steam or vapour.
  • Putting in installations such as drains, electricity, running water and gas.
  • Having the possibility of putting signs in the street.
  • Using glass in the front to make the interior visible from the street.
  • The premises must be adapted to the target audience you wish to attract.
  • Being well located and situated (preferably on a corner and with wide pavements of about three and a half metres in width) and easily accessible.

Analysis of the competition


When venturing into a new business, enthusiasm and determination are essential, but so are awareness and knowledge of the competition you will have to face.

The basic way to understand the competition is to conduct benchmarking or analysis of your competitors.
What services they offer, what their premises are like, what added value they offer, what their marketing is like, what target market they aim at, where they are located, what their prices are and how big their premises are; these are some of the points to be borne in mind o see what works and what doesn’t and how you can be better.

Currently, the average ratio or ideal situation would be one laundry per 5,000 - 15,000 inhabitants. Apart from this ideal figure which has not been reached yet, you will have to be sure that the position of your premises is not in an area already served by another, more established, laundry; or, if this is the case, try to conduct a good prior study to make sure what you offer will be much better and more attractive.

As well as the above, it is always worth visiting other vended laundries to find out at first hand how they work, what machinery they use, what services they offer, where they are located and even the profile of most of their clients.

All this might sound very confusing and complicated, but there are options for working with specialists in the sector with plenty of experience of conducting analyses of the competition. This is the case of Girbau, where as suppliers of laundry equipment we can offer this service of benchmarking the competition, an area in which we have been working and learning for a long time.

What does it consist of? First of all, you choose a series of competitors to look at and therefore analyse. Next, you establish a series of critical variables and study them individually for each competing laundry to gain an overall comparative view of your main competition and therefore information invaluable to your business.


Viability study


Entrepreneur conducting a feasibility study of a self-service laundry

Before jumping in, you should make sure there is water beneath you, and to do this there is no better way that conducting a business viability study. In the four points above we have already outlined some good practices to achieve viability, but you have to go a step further and see what the options are in figures.

The prices to set, the number and type of machines to buy and the estimated number of clients form the basis of this estimate.

Also, to conduct this viability study you must consider the costs that will be incurred (both fixed and variable) as well as the revenue expected depending on the estimated number of clients, the prices set and the services on offer.


Costs


Initial investment
Variable monthly costs
Fixed monthly costs
  • Machinery (bear in mind higher or lower consumption depending on the model of washing machine or dryer you use)
  • Payment station (optional)
  • Other equipment
  • Installations and fitting out premises
  • Furniture, signage, decoration
  • Plans and licences
  • The unit of measurement used is the cycle cost, i.e. the cost per wash and dry.
  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Gas (used by some machines)
  • Detergent
  • Rent
  • Cleaning
  • Staff (optional)
  • Self-employed social security contributions
  • Advertising (optional)
  • Electricity (excluding machines)
  • Insurance
  • Advice, administration (optional)
  • Others (e.g. wifi)
  • Maintenance of machines

Revenue


Calculation of income and costs of a self-service laundry

Revenue should be assessed in terms of the level of business expected: by estimating turnover according to the number of clients, price per cycle and other services offered.

At Girbau we have plenty of experience in conducting viability studies to give you very valuable information to determine whether your business will be profitable.


Size and layout plan


Distribution of machines in self-service laundry

Once you have acquired the premises there comes a key decision: how to lay out the fixtures to make the best use of the space, but also other aspects such as how to create a pleasant atmosphere and a feeling of comfort for clients.

To do this, the layout is important and the Girbau Sales Engineering department can help you to plan this in the best possible way to avoid problems when executing the project and so minimise any hitches that might get in the way of the correct installation, start-up or operation of the equipment you purchase.


Budget and choice of machines


You have come a long way and are closer and closer to being an entrepreneur, having your own business just how you want it and starting to make a profit, but before all this you have to choose your machinery. Your choice of washing machines matters because, among other things, it will have an impact on your clients’ time, the number of cycles you can run in a given time, consumption (of water, gas and electricity) and, of course, your profitability.

So what type of machinery does Girbau recommend? The best option is to buy soft-mount machines and those with a high spin speed because the quicker clients wash and dry their linen, the more cycles you can have and the more money your laundry can make.
In making your choice you should consider features like:

Different types of machines for self-service laundry

Hard or soft-mount washing machines.

The main difference between them is that hard-mount machines do not have internal shock absorbers, so they must be fixed to the ground so that their extraction force is transmitted to the floor rather than absorbed by the machine.

Soft-mount machines are able to absorb their mechanical action thanks to their internal shock absorbers. For this reason, soft-mount machines can be installed on any floor while hard-mount ones must be located on ground floors and be anchored to the floor as on upper floors they could cause damage to the fabric of the building.

Capacity in kg.

The maximum load your equipment can cope with is a variable to take into account as it will determine how much linen can be washed and dried in a cycle.
If your capacity is too low, profitability and service might be harmed.

Consumption and the eco-friendly concept.

Consumption of water (primarily) and electricity are basic factors in deciding between one machine and another. The eco-friendly concept refers to doing business in a way that cares for the environment, for example by using water or electricity more efficiently or avoiding the use of highly polluting substances by replacing them with other greener ones that care for the skin and the environment.

Programmes (disinfection, express wash, etc.)

Both offering a range of specific programmes and giving clients the option of choosing and “designing” their own programme according to their requirements.


Utility plan and scaling design


Project design and sizing of supplies for self-service laundry

Depending on what machinery you buy you will have different installation requirements and the utility plans and layout of the premises may vary considerably.

For this reason it is very important to design the premises in the right way to suit the machinery you buy and the layout you want to have. It is important to be clear about how you lay everything out because if you have to carry out renovation or new installation work, this work will be affected by the layout of the furniture and machines. This includes building, plumbing and electrical work and the like.

The Girbau design department pays special attention to this stage because of its importance and creates plans of the installations to make the best use of the space.


Installations


When the time comes to install the machinery, this means you are now very close to making your project a reality. The most advisable thing is for your supplier to recommend a specialist or specialists in electrical installations, joinery, building work, interior design, plumbing and so on. At Girbau we can do this.


Licences and permits


You’re probably not looking forward to this part because it is often a stage that involves moments of concern and even – at times - desperation, but you mustn’t let this dampen your enthusiasm and determination. The world of licences and permits is quite wide and ambiguous, as there are different kinds at local, regional and national. This can therefore be a lengthy process and the ideal thing is to rely on a specialist consultancy to make sure everything is in order and not come up against any hitches or fines.

Some of the requirements you will come across are the following:

  • Planning permission for building work.
  • Fire prevention plan.
  • Registration for local business rates and VAT.
  • Official declaration of start of business.
  • Registering your business.
  • Getting a Business Activity licence.

Building work


Painter in self-service laundry

The next stage is to start turning all the work and enthusiasm you have put into the project so far into a reality.

It is essential to be clear about the scaling and distribution plan at this point, and also to know what feeling you want to transmit to clients through the atmosphere you create. The key to this lies in details like lighting, background music and the layout of features within the premises.


Choosing signage, décor and corporate image.


The image of your business (your brand) is very important and must communicate what you want to express. To do this you have to bear in mind certain basic aspects like the interior and exterior decoration, signage and your brand in the sense of a logo, typography, colour scheme and so on. EVERYTHING communicates and everything connects with your public.

Decoration and interior design

you must decide what kind of décor and style you want to give the laundry (premium, low cost, vintage, modern, etc.). You should bear in mind that this style must match the prices, value proposition and advertising you run, among other things.

Brand style

the logo, typography and colour scheme are aspects you want the public to remember and associate automatically with your laundry. For this reason, if your laundry is designed in a vintage style, your logo should not be too modern because this would break the association between logo and premises.

Signage

this is how you give your clients the information they need to use the laundry without any kind of problems or doubts.

Instructions for use

numbering of washing machines and dryers, maximum weight, prices, etc.

Self-service laundry instructions and pictograms

Signs for the washing area and the drying area.

Specify whether there is a special area for pet or sports linen.

Information about the method of payment

payment station, credit/debit card, etc.

Rules for use of the machinery.

Extra information.

The signage should be clear and simple so that it will be properly understood.


Marketing and promotion


Your marketing must help to unify and maintain the coherence and cohesion between all the parts and actions taken. The ideal way is to draw up a marketing plan setting forth the strategy to be taken for the business and ensure it is coherent with the brand image you want to achieve and the audience at whom it is aimed.

The marketing strategy should also establish the strong points or competitive advantages that will make your laundry stand out from others that exist on the market. Along the lines of what you have that the competition doesn’t. In the marketing plan you should set both quantitative and qualitative targets, the budget assigned to marketing and the value proposition you are going to offer clients to stand out (prices, opening hours, atmosphere, extra services, quality, etc.).

The marketing plan should also deal with the area of advertising, promotion and sales, as well as establishing the ongoing actions and events over time to help to build up the visibility of the business and the number of clients.

Self-service laundry website

Some of the steps you could take include:

  • Developing a website.
  • Creating profiles on social networks.
  • A creative opening event.
  • Advertising in the media used by your public (local press, segmented advertising on networks, etc.).
  • Flyers and mailshots.

Through marketing you achieve coherence between all the actions (of whatever kind) you take, creating a brand image and a positioning on the market and in the mind of your public.

All this can be a thrilling process, but it is complicated and it can be very effective to use the services of a marketing agency.


Commissioning the machines


Person Loading Washing Machine In Self Service Laundromat

Now you have come all this way, your dream is almost within reach and all you need to do now is get everything ready.

When it comes to installing and commissioning the machinery, your supplier must be the one to deal with installing them and leaving them ready for use (as we do at Girbau).


Opening the laundry


Stylish self-service laundry interior

You are now at the finishing line and you can open your laundry with everything ready to start earning money and making your dream of being an entrepreneur come true.

But you should add a creative touch to promote your opening, attract people and start off on a good footing.

Complete guide: How to open vended laundry

We have seen the process of setting up a vended laundry step by step, but we are going to finish off with a little more fine tuning.

Self-service laundry user

Key factors


Key factorsThe success of a laundry depends on many factors, like any business, but some of them are of key importance to increasing your chances of success.

Aiming high and having an ambitious profile (though without getting carried away) are aspects that, along with those below, will be essential to achieving the success you want:

Location

being situated on a wide pavement, on a corner if possible, with large windows showing the interior and in an area with high population density and traffic (both of people and vehicles) are crucial, as well as having parking close at hand.

Strategy

you can’t decide to open a vended laundry without a plan, a strategy to establish how to go about things coherently to seek profitability.

Involvement

finally, but no less important, is your involvement in the business, your enthusiasm, being active about propositions and improvements, getting to know the sector and your public and striving to offer advantages in comparison with the competition. It’s your business - put your passion into it.


Value-added services


The value proposition of your vended laundry must be focused on satisfying your clients, the target audience at whom it is aimed. Value-added service must therefore be appropriate to this kind of audience.

Value-added services can include many options, some more common and other more innovative.

Machines to sell extra services automatically, something known as Profit Plus Kit, whereby you can offer extra washing, spinning or rinsing time, can yield significant revenue, as can vending machines for both food and drink and cleaning and vacuum packing related products.

You can also devote an area in the laundry to recreation to make clients’ waiting time pass more pleasantly and even attract clients. Library areas with charging points for mobile phones, wifi or newspapers and magazines are just a few examples.

You can also add to your services by offering a special area or programmes for pet linen and/or sports linen, as well as hiring employees to include ironing, adjustments and repairs to your set of services.

Drop off or home pick-up and delivery are other examples of the range of services to enhance the client experience and meet their needs; in short, to add value to your vended laundry.


The keys to setting up a successful vended laundry


As you have seen, the process of developing and launching a vended laundry involves numerous stages, all of them very important. Along the way you’ll have to put in work and surround yourself with the right advisers to achieve your goal in a satisfactory manner.

With passion and enthusiasm and by relying on the right experts, success will be much more achievable.

Here at Girbau, as technological and market leaders, we don’t just act as suppliers of the equipment and machinery you need, but we have a team of experts with wide experience to give you advice and support throughout the process of starting up your vended laundry, forging a lasting relationship of trust and avoiding the need to look for different advisers with all the time and expense this involves.

Open your own vended laundry

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