How to Start a Drop-Off Laundry Service
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If you like to do laundry and you have an entrepreneurial spirit, starting a drop-of laundry service may be an ideal career choice for you. Everyone has to do laundry, and often, the dirty clothes pile is overwhelming. With a small start-up cost, you can provide a service that may fill a niche your community is missing. Or, you may decide to invest in a full-service laundry and dry cleaning service. It’s important to consider the basics of starting a business, before you jump right in. If you create a business plan that outlines what you want to do and how you’re going to do it, you’ll be on the road to success.
Determine the Scope of Service
It’s important to determine the specific services you’ll provide. For example, if you’re going to have a laundry service in your home, you may be confining your services to basic laundry and ironing. If you’re going to invest in running your business out of a separate building, consider the amount of money that you have on hand to spend on this venture. Will you offer dry cleaning or specialty cleaning for wedding gowns? Will you have washers and dryers for other people to use? Check out the market needs, and, along with your budget, you can define what you will offer.
Scout Your Market
Conducting a market analysis is critical to your success, and you don’t have to be an expert to conduct that analysis. Start by making a list of all the other laundry operations in your town. Visit each one, and take notes about what they offer; look at the prices and the inside décor. Use this information to figure out any service gaps in your community. For example, if you have several self-service laundry businesses, but your community is lacking a dry cleaning service, you’ve identified a market need. Similarly, check the want ads for home-based laundry services. Map the locations to help you select the optimal location for your drop-off laundry business.
Research Local Business Requirements
You can’t open a drop-off laundry business without following local business laws and policies. You can find out a lot of the necessary information on-line, but consider visiting the city government office to talk to someone in person. You’ll want to ask about business licenses, permits and sales tax information. You may also want to consider forming a limited liability corporation (LLC). A tax advisor can give you the best advice about what will work best for your business plan.
Purchase Necessary Supplies
Once you’ve determined your budget, the scope of service and the ideal location, you can start purchasing the necessary supplies. If you’re operating a self-service laundry business, you’ll need washers, dryers, carts, garbage cans, tables, chairs and change machines. For drop-off laundry service, you’ll need bags, a scale and a cash register or device to collect money. You may also want to buy insurance to protect your property. Finally, don’t forget signage to identify your business and entice customers to visit.
Market Your Services
Advertising your business is the key to success. Use social media as much as possible. It’s free, and it's a great way to get the word out. You can even market your grand opening and weekly specials. A website is an important investment that will put you on the virtual map. Post flyers on community bulletin boards, and encourage people you know to spread the word about your laundry business.
Differentiate Your Business
Chances are that you aren’t the only laundry business in town. Set yourself apart by offering a twist to your services. For example, consider picking up and delivering laundry to your customers. Add a snack bar or a pool table for your customers to enjoy, while waiting for their laundry. When you wrap up clean laundry, brand the package with a candy bar or a special sticker that's stamped with your logo.
- Invest in liability and equipment insurance, as well as worker's compensation insurance for your employees. Advertise on college bulletin boards and Craigslist.com. If you intend to get financing, write up a business plan. Visit SBA.gov for help on writing a plan. Get to know a reliable handyman (who can fix your brand of washers and dryers) in your area. Keep all vending machines and your change machine well stocked. Consider purchasing a website for your business. Consider offering discount cards or community coupon books.
- Familiarize yourself with your tax obligation ASAP, such as FUTA, SUTA and payroll taxes.
Dr. Kelly Meier has a doctorate in Educational Leadership and has 30+ years of experience in higher education. She is the author and co-author of 15 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education with Kinect Education Group. She is the co-owner of a small business and a regular contributor for The Equity Network. She has numerous publications published by Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and <a href="http://www.kinecteducationgroup.com">Kinect Education Group</a>.