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About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

  • 1.  About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 7 days ago
    Purchased a 2500sqft former Circle K in Jan. of this year. Hired a contractor for the build out/renos. I've got 32 Wasco's from 20-80lbs. to go with 16 stack dryers, 30's & 45's. Put in porcelain tile for flooring, canned LED's, 2 new bathrooms with high speed hand dryers. For amenities I went with 2 big screen TV's, a 26ft long granite counter attached to a wall with 6 "cubbies" with WiFi charging stations in all, a small kids play area that will house some books, games, etc. I also have a drink machine, 8 option soap machine, & change machine. About half my machines-the bigger ones-will offer a card option via Fascard. For water, I have 2ea 200k btu HTP water heaters. I went with a couple 5t splits systems for the HVAC(I own a couple Supply house's in my other life). I also put in a Stanley automatic front door. I only have 1 competitor about a mile away in a rundown facility with no HVAC & about 16 machines.  I plan on being the price leader by at least .50 cents. I will start out unattended/partially attended to keep overhead minimal. I will eventually add wdf only if there is a demand for it & I can justify the added overhead versus the additional profit. Hours will likely be 6am-11pm. Loads of renters nearby & I've gotten very positive feedback so far on the need for a new upscale type mat. I've hired a local, well respected marketing firm to help get the word out initially as I'm terrible with social media. I've learned A LOT on this forum to aid in my new venture. Thank you. IF this is successful other locations will likely follow. Tell me my mistakes & what I've overlooked!

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    Doug Morehouse
    Doug Morehouse Person
    Georgetown SC
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  • 2.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 7 days ago
    What makes you think you have you have gone wrong? Unless you have done a dramatic storefront why would anyone know what you have inside? Without doing that it will be a slow gradual process. I would suggest your advertised hours to be Open 6:AM Last wash 9:30PM Last dry 10:00 PM.  If you have the proper equipment mix things should work out fine. Your A/C is a bit undersized but should not be a real problem. Again 200,000 BTU's for heating water a bit undersized but should be OK.
    If I were you I would offer a free dry promotion for a short period of time. Fifty cents for a new place? You might want to rethink that!

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    Curt Harrington
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  • 3.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 7 days ago
    Doug, what do the demographics look like? Did you wonder why there aren't any decent competitors around you? If you have the demand, it looks to me from your description that you covered a lot of bases, especially in 2500 SqFt.

    You don't need to be the price leader in the market you described. I like an opening promotion, but identify it as such. Somewhere I remember the old adage that a 25 cent washer price increase can be more profitable even if you lose 15% of your business.

    The point is you'll draw the good customers with fair prices, not low prices. Let the low price lookers go to the ratty competition you mentioned. If I'm New new and well run I should charge a little more.

    Within a year you'll know most things. In ten you'll be telling others about your success stories. Good luck.

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    Larry Larsen
    www.Laundromat123.com
    Most Valuable Distributor
    & Expert Witness
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  • 4.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 7 days ago
    We have a smaller LMat (21 machines) and need a 12 column soap dispenser double loaded with the popular brands.  You may want to invest in a larger visual soap dispenser being upscale and larger

    We have a standard height change machine and an ADA height change machine.  You will want to add another change machine so you don't leave your customers stranded when your single change machine goes OOO or low on change while unattended.

    Hope all goes well !

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    LES MONTHEI
    MT VIEW LAUNDROMAT
    LAKEHEAD CA
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  • 5.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 7 days ago
    Les,
            Thanks for your recommendations. I had thought about an extra change machine but not a bigger soap dispenser. I will certainly look into both further. Thank you

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    Doug Morehouse
    Doug Morehouse Person
    Georgetown SC
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  • 6.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 7 days ago
    Larry,
              Demographics show about 50k household income with a significant amount of renters in a 3 mile radius. I honestly think it's simply a rare underserved market. It's on the SC coast & the population explodes during the summer, hence the 80lb machines for vacationers who don't want to spend a whole day washing towels & bathing suits. My distributor, who has been instrumental, lit up when we rode around the area. He feels it has a chance to be very successful if I go about it properly. Thanks for responding.

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    Doug Morehouse
    Doug Morehouse Person
    Georgetown SC
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  • 7.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 6 days ago
    Lived in Myrtle Beach for 3 years as a recruiter.  Drove through Georgetown all the time on the way to Charleston.  If you blink, you'll miss it.  It's a tiny town and already has a laundromat.  I'd be worried.  I doubt many people make 50K in Georgetown County.  Did you ever see how busy the other place was on Sunday's?

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    Chris Mallam
    Norfolk VA
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  • 8.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 4 days ago
    Hi Chris. Thanks for responding. Yes I live in quaint little Georgetown. Definitely a depressed town for the most part. It actually has 3 mats there already; a couple of them do very well. My mat is in Surfside Beach just south of Myrtle. BIG difference. Don’t know the last time you’ve been around these parts but man has it exploded in the last dozen years. Thank you.

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  • 9.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 4 days ago
    Doug,

    You're right on the money about overall trends. I just did some work for one of the hospital systems in Horry County.  The population in that area is exploding, it's mostly baby boomer retirees from the northeast who figured out coastal SC is very affordable and the weather is very temperate.  Long term, you should do well with your investment.

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    Paul Kludt
    Multi Store Owner
    Lake Worth Coin Laundry
    West Palm Beach, FL
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  • 10.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 7 days ago
    I have 2 AC units equaling 10 tons & 2 200k water heaters. Am I still a bit undersized? I may have misstated my pricing earlier. I meant I would be the highest by at least .50 cents. Do you recommend I go higher?  I will do an entire weekend of free wash & dry about 6 weeks in; after a few of the kinks are worked out. Thanks for your response earlier.

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    Doug Morehouse
    Doug Morehouse Person
    Georgetown SC
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  • 11.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 6 days ago
    Edited by Paulie B 6 days ago

    Sounds like you are building a quality mat!

    I agree with Curt about putting in a new storefront. Your automatic doors are a great perk for customers. Putting up beautiful high quality signs are also a big pull that works for you 24/7.

    a new storefront will signal the pubic that something new, different, and better is now at your location. 

    A nice storefront will be attracting customers for years. Over the long run, it's the biggest bang you can get for your advertising dollar. 



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    Paulie B
    Multiple Mat Owner since 1976
    New York City, NY
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  • 12.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 6 days ago
    Paulie,
                  Yes sir, I've got a new standing seam Galvalume roof facing the road. Also, the entire exterior of the building has been painted a bright white. The outdoor lighted sign will be installed this Thursday on the facing above the entrance. I also did landscaping per code on both sides of the parking lot. LED/floodlights will illuminate the parking lot during night hours. Thanks for your input. You've done this quite a while! In fact, didn't you recommend some time ago alcohol in spray bottles to clean baskets, etc? I'm incorporating that also.




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  • 13.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 6 days ago
    Edited by LARRY LARSEN 6 days ago
    Doug,
         Of the six important things I look at in a demographic study, you didn't mention one. I believe the design of a successful Laundromat comes from an analysis of the current and potential demand.
         The size and equipment mix is not universal and should be matched to the location. Be cautious of the advice and encouragement of a salesman who may paint you a rosier picture than a location might merit.
         Too often too little is presented on this forum and well meaning advice might not be relevant. Chris made s good observation.

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    Larry Larsen
    www.Laundromat123.com
    Most Valuable Distributor
    & Expert Witness
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  • 14.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 6 days ago

    Doug,

    Sounds like you've been doing your "due diligence " for quite a while!
    Also sounds like you've paid a lot of attention to both the big and small things. 

    Your odds of success are a lot higher than the average newbie, imo  

    Great!
    Wishing you all the best! 



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    Paulie B
    Multiple Mat Owner since 1976
    New York City, NY
    ------------------------------

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  • 15.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 6 days ago
    Doug,

    Congrats on your purchase.  You are light years ahead of most because you bought the building.  Kudos on that.   I'm a big fan of the Vision Vendors versus the old school 8 column soap dispensers.  You can sell products at a much higher vend cost.  Our biggest sellers are the 10 oz bottles of Gain, Tide and Downey.  We vend them at three bucks and they sell like hotcakes.  For the amount of money you have into this enterprise, soap isn't a make or break deal, but it will help in the long run.

    My second comment is an observation, keeping in mind it's based on stores where I live...Yours will be a decidedly higher-end store, and I think it would considered that in most markets.  I've never seen a store like that unattended.  I'm not saying that's good or bad, just saying it's rare in my part of the world.  I understand your thought process, I'd estimate $60K/year to staff a fully attended store, that's a big bite out of the bottom line.  You'll need to balance out operational concerns versus the economic reality that you live in, unless somebody was kind enough to give you the building and machines for free.

    Best of luck.

    ------------------------------
    Paul Kludt
    Multi Store Owner
    Lake Worth Coin Laundry
    West Palm Beach, FL
    ------------------------------

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  • 16.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 6 days ago
    Paul,
             Based on your recs, I've just met with my Distributor & he will be taking the 8 column machine back & selling me a Vision Vendor combo. I will also be interviewing potential attendants today & may look at employing a couple on a full time, or close to it, basis. Thanks for your helpful advice. 



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  • 17.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 6 days ago
    It sounds amazing. Hopefully its not too seasonal. What size hot water tank do you have? You probably need 200 to 300 gallons at least. Also, if you're putting in a second change machine you might want a bill breaker for those unattended times.

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    Pete
    Owner
    The Washtub Laundromat
    Tappan, NY
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  • 18.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 6 days ago
    Peter,
               Yes sir, I have 2 120lb tanks. Thanks 



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  • 19.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 6 days ago
    What do you mean by "price leader".  Are you 50 cts above the other guy or below?

    Agree w/Larry, you should be pricing higher than the run down mat, not below.

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    Anderson
    Camarillo CA
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  • 20.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 6 days ago
    A new asphalt seal coat and proper width parking stripes goes a long way to dressing up the front entrance.  Needs to be done every 4 to 6 years depending on weather etc. to keep the asphalt in better shape.

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    LES MONTHEI
    MT VIEW LAUNDROMAT
    LAKEHEAD CA
    ------------------------------

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  • 21.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 6 days ago
    Les,
             Yes sir it's actually concrete that will be pressure washed & newly striped for opening. I will then pressure wash periodically as needed. Thanks for your input. 


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  • 22.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 6 days ago
    Anderson,
                        Definitely above. I will be a couple bucks higher on my 80lb'ers. Sound ok? 



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  • 23.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 5 days ago
    All sounds great.  First of all,  Congratulations & good luck.

     You didn't elaborate much on the demographics.  You identified as.percentages, rentals, potential tourist revenue but didn't say how you plan to capture new business, take from the other guy.

     You also said price leader but didn't use identify a price per wash or range perhaps.  You also did not identify staffing plans or needs for the long run.  Will this be partially attended or unattended?

     The place sounds very well designed & built.  Great job.  Good luck!


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    Juan
    Cocoa, Fl
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  • 24.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 5 days ago
    Chris,
              I agree on Georgetown although I understand a couple mats do fairly well there. I live in Georgetown but my mat is in Surfside Beach.


    Juan,
              I've hired a local marketing firm to create a website, help with SEO, etc. I will do a Grand Opening weekend about 6 weeks in to include free wash & dry for the entire weekend that they will assist in. Expensive yes, but I see it as an investment for the future. I'm not arrogant enough to believe everyone will come running to the "new" mat in town. They've never needed me before now so I'll have to earn their business, and I will. I plan to do it with steady, profitable, smart growth. As for attendants, based on feedback from this forum, I will likely hire 3 part-timers to cover the business for the majority of the open hours. There are a slew of retirees in my market & I've had a load of responses to my ad yesterday & today. I should be able to find 3 desirable candidates. Thank you for your advice!

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    Doug Morehouse
    Doug Morehouse Person
    Georgetown SC
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  • 25.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 5 days ago
    Hello Doug,

     As identified by Paulie and others.  It's clear that you've done plenty of due diligence, have a good line of sight and good understanding of your goals and what lies ahead.  Given all of those facts you have a very good chance at a successful campaign, location, and future.  Kudos to you for the effort thus far.

     That being said, we don't have all of the details.  Will you be running the overall operation?  what is your status?  Working full time, retired, part time owner, investor etc?  Only reason for the ask is to provide a more accurate response.

     For example, a couple of thoughts.  Yes SEO is important and expensive. Who's idea was that and why?  Have or did you consider alternate ideas or plans?  Everything that you mention including the nice amenities should place you in a better than above average shot at success. Maybe I missed it but what are your plans exactly?  Did you weight out the pros and cons and compare the costs of SEO and marketing?

     The reason for the ask besides providing you with an alternate vantage point and continue the dialogue, is that you can or could have saved the SEO and a majority of the marketing plan / budget by doing some of that yourself. One of the best things that you could do for your business is to stand shoulder to shoulder with said business.  Become the face of the business, network with the people, get to know them by first name and as quickly as possible, get to know a little about them, be genuine and caring, give out the free drys, washes, soaps, water, firm handshakes, pleasant smiles, welcome them in, thank them for their business, help them bring in the laundry, walk them out, be nice and friendly etc.  That kind sir is priceless yet costs you far less than what you are spending on SEO and the other stuff.  Case and ponit.  I don't SEO or advertise not personally anyway.  Never have.  Word of mouth is key in my book anyway.  Maybe a little to late but not too late for you to consider what I've touched on.

     Just today I stopped by my mat when I got off work today.  Yes, that is right I am back in Florida for a few days.  Flying back to Louisiana in a few more.  Overall this work assignment is far better than Seattle for the simple fact that I get to be home quicker and more often, the project is equally as cool with all of the work related benefits etc..  Anyway, when I walked in I met and talked to a total of about 6 different people that i've met and known through the years of being in business.  They were all genuinely happy to see me, ask about how thing are going, we talk about their families, kids, work, the economy, upcoming events, football, baseball, my vehicles, my work assignment, politics you name it.  .

     Final point and comment (2 of them) 1.) your place sounds wonderful and amazing.  Congratulations on a job well done be it by yourself or with some help.  Are you prepared for and what will happen when on some occasions things won't go as panned?  For example that day that comes along when you get the unruly or disrespectful customer(s) that will slam, scratch, or damage your equipment whether deliberate or not.  When they make a mess, which depending on your location will happen almost daily of the nice high end location.  when you or your team finds debris ranging from new clothes tags, to pet hairs and other unthinkables int your equipment, when the dryers get damaged due to pointed objects etc and so on.

     2.) When you do hire from that retired customer base you speak of make sure you and they know and understand that they represent your business.  Positive attitudes, genuine smiles, customer service can and will make or break your business no matter how many amenities the location has.

     Something to think about.  Best of luck to you.

    ------------------------------
    Juan
    Cocoa, Fl
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  • 26.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 4 days ago
    Lots of year round renters/vacationers/snowbirds in that area.  You should do well.

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    Chris Mallam
    Norfolk VA
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  • 27.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 4 days ago
    Doug:  Looks like things are headed in the right direction.  Since you might be hiring more help than originally anticipated be sure to consider those costs in the pricing.  I am not sure if you have employees at other businesses or use a payroll firm for your employees etc, but there are usually several State, Federal and sometimes Local rules that have to be closely adhered to in order to keep things on track with hired help.

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    LES MONTHEI
    MT VIEW LAUNDROMAT
    LAKEHEAD CA
    ------------------------------

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  • 28.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 4 days ago
    Les,
            Yes sir I will use my current accounting firm to take care of my payroll at this business also. They are a huge part of where I am today & I put a lot of trust in them to keep me straight.

    Juan,
              Yes sir I am heavily involved in my other businesses but I have excellent employees who have made it possible for me to step back & pursue other business interests. I hired a marketing to help get me off the ground with a website, social media presence etc. because I'm simply not adept at that stuff. Yes I agree that speaking to & acknowledging customers goes a long way with them. I look forward to that aspect. I also have no problem cleaning toilets, mopping, etc to let employees know I'm not above anything to the business be successful. I suspect the majority of my business over time will come via word of mouth. I'm sure I'll make mistakes along the way but hopefully I can limit those. As to your last two points, the business world has certainly prepared me for occasional unhappy customers. I am fully prepared to handle anything that comes my way in an appropriate manner. So will my employees, or they won't be employed for long. Yes I've got a few good prospects that appear to have the qualities you mentioned. As an aside, I had a lady walk up to me today outside my mat as I was speaking with a potential employee. She wanted to see my mat & told me she had a linen cleaning business(her sign was on her van so she was legit) & is not completely comfortable at the mat down the road. She was very complimentary of our mat & we are working on a potential agreement for her to come in after hours to do all her cleaning. Very encouraging to have that chance encounter today! Thanks for your advice.


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    Doug Morehouse
    Doug Morehouse Person
    Georgetown SC
    ------------------------------

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  • 29.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 4 days ago
    Hello Doug,

     Excellent response & background.  You are poised to be very successful.  Big thumbs up!!

    I am sure that you will quickly & easily learn and adjust to all of the qwirks that are part of the business as you move on & grow with the business.

       Best of of luck to you.  Be sure to circle back and keep us updated on the progress.

     We are here to help.

    ------------------------------
    Juan
    Cocoa, Fl
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  • 30.  RE: About to be a new mat owner. Tell me where I've gone wrong so far.

    Posted 3 days ago
    Doug:  I have a smaller operation, but the lady you described with the linen business sounds quite a bit like the lady that has been managing our store and doing the cleaning for 18 years.  She usually has two other jobs going on and has her own WDF business.  She prefers to work the closing 7 days a week when she is in town.  A possible way to pick up some talent with the linen lady and possibly some of her help to keep the machines turning and doing the final clean up each night they are available.


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    LES MONTHEI
    MT VIEW LAUNDROMAT
    LAKEHEAD CA
    ------------------------------

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