NAME: Joe Jepson
BUSINESS NAME: O-Town Coin Laundry
LOCATIONS: 4 in the Salt Lake City area
OVERVIEW: Making sure customers get a great experience today starts with planning for tomorrow.
“We were an apartment management company, mostly,” says Joe Jepson. “Now we’re moving into being more of a laundry company.”
That move started when his company, Diamond J Management, bought an apartment building and instead of retooling the existing common laundry room, had the idea of opening a laundromat in a vacant 800-square-foot commercial space on the ground floor. They worked with their distributor, Mendenhall Commercial LaundryEquipment, and together they determined that the area’s demographics made it a promising location for a laundromat.
Today there are four O-Town Coin Laundry locations in Ogden, Utah, all designed to provide the ultimate customer experience, and all equipped with Maytag® Commercial Laundry machines.
“We’re pretty loyal to Maytag Commercial Laundry. In our experience, we fix them far less than the old machines. And that’s very nice.”
Customers find stores with a single brand more appealing, Jepson says. “When you replace your machines, they look beautiful. The Maytag machines look great. People love that, and it attracts new customers to your store, especially if your competitors aren’t doing it around you. We always look at whether our competition is retooling.”
What other advice does he have for his fellow laundromat owners?
DO THE FLOOR LAST, AND OTHER ADVICE.
The first point he brings up, especially when talking to new laundromat owners, is “Never, ever put your floor in before you put in your machines. Do your floor last. We learned that one the hard way.”
A less obvious piece of advice? Install bigger machines than you think you need. “One of the reasons we end up doing a partial retool is that we realized we didn’t install big enough machines. It gives you more capacity. If your store is crowded, put in those bigger machines and they’ll get people in and out quicker.”
GIVE CUSTOMERS CHOICES.
“Whenever we are given an opportunity to install something or change something in a store, the question is always, ‘does this give our customers more choices?’ We are competing against apartment buildings and homes that already have machines in them, yet we’re getting more customers all the time and we feel it’s because of all the choices we offer.”
Jepson points specifically to the ability to program their Maytag Commercial Laundry washers with different cycle options and add-ons.
“These newer machines give a lot of value to our customers— fast spin cycles, extra hot water, stuff like that—that let us increase our vend prices and make a little bit more additional income.”
BIGGER MACHINES DON’T HAVE TO MEAN BIGGER UTILITY BILLS.
Jepson also reminds other owners that retooling can have a notable impact on utilities. That apartment building where he turned the common laundry room into a public laundromat? Despite more customers, more turns and larger machines, utility costs stayed about the same.
“It really surprised us how much more efficient the newer commercial Maytag machines were than our older residential ones. Our water bill didn’t go up, our gas bill didn’t go up. Nor did our electric bill, which was what really surprised us,” he says. “We saw first-hand that by upgrading to new commercial machines, we made a lot more money.”
Now whenever they retool their other stores, they know they may see utility savings. “Our experience has been that the washers themselves use less hot water, less water overall, and the dryers use less gas than the older models. At least that’s our experience.”
PLAN AHEAD FOR REPLACEMENT.
When O-Town Laundry buys an existing store, they always budget in the cost of replacing all the existing machines with new ones, just as they would factor in the cost of new machines when building a store from the ground up.
Even though Jepson expects equipment like rigid-mount washers and dryer stacks to last for at least a decade and a half, he knows how important it is to start setting aside a maintenance reserve and saving for replacement equipment years before his machines start wearing out.
He points to the Maytag Commercial Laundry MH33 washer as an example. They’re very popular with customers. In Joe’s experience, they have to be replaced about every 5 years or 15,000-20,000 cycles, so he builds these costs into his operating budgets. That way he’s set if anything happens, “but when the time
comes and if they’re looking good and not breaking down on us, we’ll keep them running and just keep saving that money.”
He learned that lesson after buying a store from an owner who hadn’t been putting money aside for maintenance or replacement. The machines looked a lot better than they ran, and the store barely generated enough revenue to pay the bills. The previous owner hasn’t been putting money aside and was backed into a corner.
“It’s a great lesson in setting money aside and updating your machines so that you don’t get pushed into a corner. After retooling with new machines, we saw our income go up and our utilities actually go down. It’s one of the best success stories we have, that little store. It’s a perfect example of why you should at least partially retool your store over time.”
Interested in seeing what value the right replacement investment can bring to your laundromat? Your local Maytag Commercial Laundry distributor can generate a customized analysis of your store and the potential impact new equipment can have on your bottom line.