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How Much Does It Cost To Open A Laundromat?

ByAllen Czermak


According to the Houston Chronicle, startup costs for opening up a new laundromat typically range anywhere from $200,000 to $1,000,000. However, there are many variables that will determine the cost and the best way to determine those expenses would be to open a spreadsheet or take out a good old pen and paper. There is no one price that fits all models for starting up a laundromat and each will come up with a different price tag. 

The current pandemic has sidelined many small businesses and has forced them to close their shops since they cannot afford to keep them open. True, the United States Government has tried to fill in with PPP loans and other stimulus grants, but still many small business owners were unable to cover their own personal costs let alone the cost of their business and were forced to shut their doors. 

Like with any challenge in life, when lemons are thrown your way try and make lemonade. With this methodology many small business owners are scratching their heads to try and figure out how to make a living during these hard times. One of things that people will always be doing under any circumstance is laundry. Both adults and children will always need freshly laundered clothing whether there is a snow storm, hurricane, or even a pandemic. 

With that said, it might not be such a bad idea to open or purchase a local laundromat. This is especially true with many new loans available from the U.S. Small Business Administration due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today we will delve into the costs of opening up a laundromat and what challenges business owners face during its operation. Laundromats will always be needed and can provide a good or at least supplemental income for you or a friend.

Cost of Commercial Space

In order to open a laundromat you are going to either purchase or rent a commercial space to house the facility. Since you are just beginning this endeavor it’s most likely that you are going to rent space rather than purchase. The cost of rent usually depends on size of space and location and cannot be given a number. To put things in perspective, the cost of renting a commercial space in Henderson, Nebraska will be significantly less than that of downtown Brooklyn, New York. Each neighborhood will have its perks which all play a role in the cost of rent for your future laundromat.

Cost of Commercial Washer & Dryers

The same argument of whether to buy a new or a used car pertains to commercial washers & dryers. Buying new equipment will be more expensive and more durable while purchasing old equipment might be cheaper but less durable. As per the writing of this article a 3.5 cubic feet commercial washer costs $2,299 and a 7 cubic feet commercial  dryer costs $2,000 at the Home Depot. Stackable commercial washers and dryers start at $3,000 and can be more economical than purchasing separate units. Both types of washers and dryers are front loaders and operate through coin deposit. Depending on how many machines you will need for your laundromat will determine the costs for the new equipment. Purchasing used commercial washers and dryers varies, but can still be quite expensive. Also keep in mind that there are shipping and freight costs that are going to be high due to the excessive shipping weight.

Utilities & Operating Expenses

This consists of costs that go into keeping your facility operating like gas, heating and cooling, electrical, plumbing, water, bathrooms and any other operating expense. Chances are you are probably going to need an appliance guy at your disposal too. The only way to get an exact idea of what these expenses will be is to reach out to the local utility companies and try to gain some insight into what these costs are. Keep in mind that you will be using lots of water, gas, and electricity to keep these machines running and functioning properly. Reaching out to the water company as to what the usage and sewer rates are is critical to get an idea of what your most expensive utility service will cost. They should give you an idea when you let them know how many washers will be running and how often they will be operating.

Laundromat Entertainment

You might forget that running multiple loads of laundry can take a lot of time. Besides for the actual work there is a lot of time sitting around doing nothing. You want to make sure that you have TV screens with local programing on, that can help past the time as a single mom waits for the clothing to dry with her toddler. On top of that, laundromat customers expect to get free WiFi so they can use apps and browse the internet on their smartphones. That means you are going to have to pay for this service which starts at $50 a month. Some businesses will include the TV and internet  as a utility expense but the cost for multiple flat screens can add up depending on the size of your commercial space.

Cost of Ancillary Products

There are many ancillary products that you will need to allow people to clean their laundry efficiently. This includes items like tables, carts, and changers that assist customers in keeping their laundry clean as it gets transferred from washer to dryer. The last thing anybody wants is for their clean laundry to end up on the floor while waiting for a dryer to finish a load. 

Besides for the products that provide assistance with the laundry there are items like chairs and tables that are basic hosting necessities for your customers. Often the basic cost for furniture can get overlooked and laundromat owners are left to use folding tables and chairs from Walmart. Laundromat décor is important to make customers comfortable and to keep them coming back load after load.

Flooring For Laundromat 

When you decide on a commercial space chances are that the flooring will need to be updated. You will want to make sure to install flooring that can handle all types of spills and can be easily cleaned. You hope that there will be lots of foot traffic that will bring in all the elements from the outdoors into your laundromat. In recent years, many laundromats across the United States have invested in PVC interlocking floor tiles. It looks squeaky clean and is highly durable. On top of that, interlocking rubber tiles are super easy to install and can turn a bare concrete floor into a laundromat wonderland. The cost of interlocking floor tiles depends on quantity purchased, thickness, color, and other variables. These tiles come in a variety of colors to which you can create a neat design for the flooring of your laundromat. Whatever flooring you choose make sure that it can take a beating from falling carts, dripping detergent bottles, and weathering. 

Cost of Machine Upkeep

Chances are that commercial washers and dryers will need to be maintained to keep them operating properly. All you need is for one machine not to clean a load and the word will get out that your machines don’t work. That’s why you need an appliance handyman at your beck and call. Perhaps you can work out with him or her a flat rate that will cover you on keeping your machines running. This is especially true for laundromat startups that are using older machines. Always anticipate breakdowns and make sure that there are always an ample amount of working machines available for your customers. 

Theft & Vandalism At The Laundromat

One of the many concerns for a laundromat owner is the threat of theft and vandalism. Laundromats need to be open 24/7 in order to run at a profit or at least break even. Unfortunately, that makes them an easy target for thieves while most people are asleep. This is especially true if your laundromat is located in a neighborhood where crime is rampant. Such crimes would be classified as grand larceny since no one is harmed during an incident. Laundromats are full of coins and cash and can be an economic refuge for the homeless and drug addicts. However, it’s not the loss of coins and cash which are the major problem. That can always be made back in the future. The major damage to expensive commercial washers and dryers is the hacking away of  crowbars and pipes to maneuver the coin box loose. At the end of the day it’s a major cost to fix these machines and sometimes they are beyond repair. Laundromat can write the damage off as a loss when filing for taxes but the machines still need to be replaced.

Final Words

Laundromats can be an excellent investment in the middle of a pandemic because everyone will need clean clothing. Those who are investing in laundromats will need to make sure that their numbers are right and can get help from a free business mentor that can help with your decision of opening up a laundromat. They will be able to guide and determine how much traffic you will need to anticipate a lucrative investment. We hope that one day you should be able to repeat a successful business model and open up many laundromats across the USA. Good luck!

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