Open Forum

Open 24 Hours

  • 1.  Open 24 Hours

    Posted 02-22-2019 12:42
    OK. You've done everything you can. You've invested a tremendous amount of money in good equipment, you upgraded your store, keep it clean and run a healthy wash and fold business and things are going well. But you have capped out. You are basically doing all the business you can reasonably expect to do out of this store.

    What if you could develop a new income stream from this same store without investing any more money. All your expenses are set and must be amortized over the 14 to 18 hours that you are open every day. This is where I was and it bothered me that every night I was shut down but still paying rent on my space and the machines were sitting there idle. I decided to try being open 24 hours a day as a 3 month experiment. Within 3 weeks it was clear that this was going to be a huge winner.

    Of course, I run a fully attended store. Without an attendant this model will not work. But a single attendant through the night is problematic for security reasons and keeping 2 people there all night would be cost prohibitive. Better than a second attendant or security guard would be customers. If we were busy enough, security would be much less of an issue.

    Here is my solution. I offer 30 percent discounts on all washers from Midnight to 4:00 am. From 4:00 to 7:00 washers are at 20 percent off. This brings in a regular stream of customers. Some stay up late to get the discount. When they are thinning out I get the early risers. I expected this to cut into my regular sales but I thought it would even out the load and be worth the trade. This isn't how it worked out. My regular sales did not drop at all but gradually started to increase.

    How could this be. The only answer was that I was bringing in new people. There is a certain segment of my base that cannot afford my services and go to the lower priced stores. But when I offered the discount, they began to come to us at night. Then we became their regular place and the day rolls around when they cannot come at night and they end up paying full pop in the middle of the day.

    I have brought this up before on the Forum and was told that discounts such as these were unsustainable. The thing to consider is this; at night I have no expenses. All the regular costs are carried by my daytime customers. My only expense at night is the attendant, the additional utilities and wear and tear on the machines. 30 percent off is a good deal for me and remember, they are paying full pop on the dryers.

    I am now 3 years into this and it has taken a good store and made it just that much better. Give it some thought.

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    Michael Shewmaker
    Downtown Laundry Express
    Hilo HI
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  • 2.  RE: Open 24 Hours

    Posted 02-22-2019 12:52
    Michael,

    I remember when I first went from 6am-midnight hours, to a 24hr model. It was a success for me as well, but what I didn't expect was that I did more business during the day!

    I was told by a mat builder that happens because people are basically lazy and they don't want to even have to think about what hours you are open. If they see a 24hr mat, they tend to choose that mat over one that closes at night, no matter when they come to do their wash.

    As far as a graveyard discount.....I once tried $1.00 wash from 1am to 5am for a whole a whole summer. We did get some new people during the graveyard shift, but not as much as I thought I would. I never bothered doing that particular sale again.

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    Paulie B
    Multiple Mat Owner since 1976
    New York City, NY
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  • 3.  RE: Open 24 Hours

    Posted 02-22-2019 13:39
    Paulie,

    So you ran 24 hours without any discounts. Did you have any security issues?

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    Michael Shewmaker
    Downtown Laundry Express
    Hilo HI
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  • 4.  RE: Open 24 Hours

    Posted 02-22-2019 13:40
    Paulie B quote:
    "I was told by a mat builder that happens because people are basically lazy and they don't want to even have to think about what hours you are open. If they see a 24hr mat, they tend to choose that mat over one that closes at night, no matter when they come to do their wash."

    I can't help but think that some of the same customers you describe are the same ones who want to leave their clothes in the washers even after they are done & they very much want to be able come back when they please to take them out of the washer or dryer.

    Two laundromats here in town that were 24/7 had major fires (equipment total loss plus building damage) over the years.  One expanded & rebuilt with brand new equipment ... the other lesser one closed permanently.

    Not to be vindictive ... but only to honestly look at the reality of the increased risk factors.  Maybe the CLA insurance guy who is on the forum can share about if there is a 24/7 factor in various underwriter rate consideration.

    Of course geography plays a role.  Michael points out a valid point about a steady flow of customers is helpful security wise.  NYC operators probably have the advantage of being hustle bustle 24/7 by it locality too vs the eerie nobody factor in the middle of the night.  Even with the best imaginable 24/7 cameras ... I am thinking the odds of an assault & other factors also increase.


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    Michael Walsh www.kingkoin.com
    King Koin Laundry, Car n Dog Wash
    Bismarck ND
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  • 5.  RE: Open 24 Hours

    Posted 02-22-2019 15:07
    Edited by Paulie B 02-22-2019 19:17
    Michael,

    Yes, going 24/7 raises your insurance, but get this....

    About 10 years ago, a fire broke out at 2:30am in the convenience store about 5 stores away from mine, in the same building.
    My attendants smelled smoke and gave me an emergency call. At first, we thought it was a dryer, but one of them went outside to discover the Convenience store burning full blast.
    We called 911. The fire dept came real quick, but the fire spread to the next 2 stores.
    They put out the fire.
    We had only smoke damage, along with about 4 other stores that were saved.

    If it weren't for the fact that we were open at 2:30 in the morning and attended, the entire building would have burned to the ground.

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    Paulie B
    Multiple Mat Owner since 1976
    New York City, NY
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  • 6.  RE: Open 24 Hours

    Posted 02-23-2019 15:17
    24/7 works for me because I own the convenience store across the lot. So the laundry isn't attended directly, but monitored by cameras from there. We can holler over a speaker or even run over real quick if we have to. I put the 20 pounders only 1/2 price midnight to 6am.
    Sales can be erratic though. It's really nice when you can rack up some good dough, or at least meet your break even for the day before the guy down the street even turns his lights on. Occasionally however, I can get skunked altogether.
     I do agree that it increases overall sales. Many customers are oblivious to the discount and are simply staying past midnight or coming in early or are just night people.

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    Bruce Keckhafer
    Laundry Max
    Mankato MN
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  • 7.  RE: Open 24 Hours

    Posted 02-23-2019 20:42
    Now LISTEN TO THE GODFATHER....

    24 hrs in a mat is a BAD IDEA, ALWAYS WAS, ALWAYS IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE.

    Yes 24hr mat increase some biz
    Yes its a convenience for your cust

    The only time you keep it open 24hr is if you so busy that you have to chase people out around closing time like say midnite and people still coming to wash, every nite. Then it makes sense to keep open more late or 24hr OR you a night owl and live in mat or house next to it.

    There are horror stories abound of mats that are or were open 24hrs.

    Ever notice someone driving by and has to use restroom or someone in area waiting for a friend.  Well the place of choice to stop at is a mat.
    WHY !!!!!!
    why dont you go use restroom at a cellphone store or go wait around in a restaurant.....
    people take a mat for granted because of past reputations of older junkier mats.

    NOW GODFATHER...you talking crazy again, are you off your meds....NO I AM NOT,
    Case in point....this month or last month, on the last page of Planet Laundry magazine, someone asked a similar ? And the answer was NOOOO !!!!

    IF YOU GO 24hr
    You need to have Excellent security
    double up on lighting outside
    A TOUGH COOKIE WORKING NIGHT SHIFT
    And restroom access controlled.
    NEVER EVER UNATTENDED

    its the law of nature....eventually you will get the call that someone was assaulted or Dead in mat
    OR someone took iron rod on all fronts of all machines destroying keypads, logic boards etc
    someone destroyed RR and water is gushing out of broken pipe. And the call usually comes around
    3 am.......

    Kapish !!!

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    GODFATHER
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  • 8.  RE: Open 24 Hours

    Posted 02-23-2019 23:03
    Edited by Larry Larsen 02-24-2019 07:45
    I've visited your store. Well built, extremely clean and well managed. You run a very nice business.  I think it's the best store on the big island. Congratulations.

    I am concerned that someone in a different State of the U.S. and rougher neighborhood might follow your successful example and end up with different results.

    In dense urban environments, 24 hour store can end up creating problems with vandalism, drug sales, gang visits, sex sales (the bathroom), burglaries, teenage hangouts and the homeless.

    You must have a large enough demand to justify paying an attendant during slow periods.  You should be concerned for the safety of your attendants.  You might want to consider if your insurance carrier will extend coverage to a 24 hour operation and if there is an additional cost.

    I've tried operating 24 hour stores and have determined they're not always the best choice in the neighborhoods where the most money can be made in SoCal. You're a great operator with a good idea for many, but not all, Laundromat locations. Just my opinion.
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    Larry Larsen
    Laundromat123.com
    Anaheim, CA
    Distributor - Insurance - Consulting
    Cell: (714) 390-9969
    ------------------------------

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  • 9.  RE: Open 24 Hours

    Posted 02-24-2019 08:41
    Larry,

    Thanks for the props. This 24 hour model would definitely not work for everybody. I have several factors that help it work for me. One is that I have a card store where all funds are secured and everybody knows it. Second is that we are busy at night. That's what makes the security less of a factor. Third; Although we have plenty of bad actors, the general trend here is probably less rough than many places around the country. We have few armed robberies and such so that makes it safer. Nonetheless, if a store is busy at night, security is not much of an issue.

    Next time you're in the neighborhood let's get together.

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    Michael Shewmaker
    Downtown Laundry Express
    Hilo HI
    ------------------------------

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  • 10.  RE: Open 24 Hours

    Posted 02-24-2019 11:41
    My laundromat is open to the public from 6 am to 11 pm.  We do wash and fold from 11 pm to 6 am.

    My business runs 24 hours per day, but only 17 hours for self serve customers.

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    Joe C.
    Store Owner
    Happy Bubbles Laundromat
    North Hollywood, CA
    www.BubblesCoin.com
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  • 11.  RE: Open 24 Hours

    Posted 02-24-2019 15:42
    IMO, the decision to go 24 hours depends on your location, demographic and situation.  I have two stores in lower end neighborhoods.  I have experimented by staying open until midnight but concluded the benefit didn't outweigh the cost and headaches.  By headaches, I mean dealing with drunks and sketchy types out and about late.  I do well enough during regular business hours; I don't want to worry about the safety of my employees at 11PM at night.  I see others in my area with 24 hour stores, but they are in better and safer locations.  For example, if I was in a plaza with a 24 hour supermarket, I'd certainly do it.  Good topic and discussion.  Thanks for bringing it up.

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    Paul Kludt
    Multi Store Owner
    Lake Worth Coin Laundry
    West Palm Beach, FL
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  • 12.  RE: Open 24 Hours

    Posted 02-24-2019 17:30
    Paul K & others sum it up pretty good ... based on the nearby support etc.

    I have always told my customers who request that I stay open longer hours especially in the evening past 10 PM that the odds of drinkers out of control & a potential assault tends to increase.  Hopefully, they understand that & not just ignore me & go to my much younger & daring 24/7 competitor.  A 24/7 supermarket in another part of town about 2 years ago started closing between 12AM & 6AM citing security concerns.

    Of course there are exceptions to the odds ... but are the percentage tendencies ... that is why I was hoping that forum member Jason Rehor. could shed some light with some statistics from the insurance industry???  Maybe some of our fears are unfounded???

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    Michael Walsh www.kingkoin.com
    King Koin Laundry, Car n Dog Wash
    Bismarck ND
    ------------------------------

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  • 13.  RE: Open 24 Hours

    Posted 03-01-2019 15:20
    In response to Michael's question about an underwriters view of being open 24/7:

    Almost all standard market insurance companies (Hartford, Chubb, Travelers, Liberty Mutual, ETC) are against insuring 24/7 laundromat as they view it as too much of an underwriting risk.  The uncertainty of what can happen during the night especially if there is not an attendant, is very concerning and too much of a risk for them.  If the laundromat is fully attended and 24/7 we do have underwriters that will insure it but most have strict underwriting guidelines against insuring it.  Also if you move from just open during the day to 24/7 I recommend to tell your agent as that can change your insurability at certain companies and in an event there is a claim you don't want that to be a reason for them not covering a claim.

    For our excess and surplus lines insurance carriers (non-admitted carriers) they are insuring higher risk types of businesses so from my understanding being open 24/7 will not make as much of a difference when you are insured with them.  The rate will be the same if you are just open during the day or if you are 24/7 with an excess and surplus lines carrier.

    If you are planning on changing to 24 hours I recommend you speak with your agent to discuss how it will impact your insurance.

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    Jason Rehor
    Account Executive
    CLA Insurance
    Rolling Meadows, IL
    jrehor@associated.cc
    847-427-3524
    ------------------------------

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  • 14.  RE: Open 24 Hours

    Posted 03-01-2019 18:46
    Edited by Michael Walsh 03-01-2019 18:48
    Jason,

    Thanks for covering some of the potential considerations for a non attended 24/7.  Of course the "non admitted" carriers is something to be taken into account.  I looked it up at to how that relates specifically to the current laws of our state & here is what it said as part of the their info:

    2. The insurer is not subject to the financial solvency regulation and enforcement that applies to licensed insurers in this state. 3. These insurers generally do not participate in insurance guaranty funds created by state law. These guaranty funds will not pay your claims or protect your assets if the insurer becomes insolvent and is unable to make payments as promised.

    I suppose it will vary from state to state but ... it seems like there more risk involved going with those kinds of underwriters.

    I will never forget buying a brand new car back in 1988 ... a Subaru ... & being sold a 7 yr warranty policy by the dealership that turned out to be in someways "worse than worthless" after a year or so because the company became insolvent.  It was a year of more than average problems ... & some repair shops would not have anything to do with the repairs once they saw the name of the company.  The one I finally got to do the work said that they would be lucky to get 10% reimbursement from the company meaning that I had to pretty much foot the entire bill that I was supposed to be protected from!

    It seems like some laundromats play up their cameras a bit more than I would ... no matter how good my camera & intercom system was or is.

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    Michael Walsh www.kingkoin.com
    King Koin Laundry, Car n Dog Wash
    Bismarck ND
    ------------------------------

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  • 15.  RE: Open 24 Hours

    Posted 03-01-2019 21:12
    Before you switch to a 24 hour operation, read your lease (if you don't own the building.) Quite a few leases have provisions that restrict the hours your business can be open (and the hours you must be open.) Provisions may also state the type, carrier strength and company rating of the insurance you're obliged to buy.

    In California an insurance salesman must demonstrate he made reasonable attempts to place the business with an admitted carrier before you can sell insurance from a non-admitted carrier.

    In your Landlord has the following provision in your lease: "this premises is leased for the operation of a coin laundry and no other use." It might be worded differently but you should ask an addendum stating in the use section "and commercial laundry services."

    A concern of your neighbors, and therefore the Landlord, relates to parking, pickup and delivery. Try owning a business that includes catering to an evening clientele, with limited parking available competing with the seven delivery vehicles competing for that parking. It can cause serious problems and sometimes even legal problems if your business grows and you need space to park delivery vehicles. It might require upgrades to your insurance.

    The next step you should take is to visit your City building, planning or zoning. Zoning restrictions might limit the hours your business can be open. They might also require a second business license.

    You might discover the City requires a sewer sampling station (cost over $7,00) because you're now engaging in a business having a historical reputation of increased pollution entering the sewer system.

    You should expend a little time looking at your insurance coverage, and do some research before you spend money expanding into WDF and delivery.

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    Larry Larsen
    Laundromat123.com
    Anaheim, CA
    Distributor - Insurance - Consulting
    Cell: (714) 390-9969
    ------------------------------

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