Lauren Berkoski owns 4 laundromats while working a full-time job! She has a growing laundromat empire and in today’s episode, she talks about how she balances having a job with running, and growing, 4 laundromats!
Lauren shares specific, practical tactics to grow your laundromat empire, from marketing to hiring and training employees and managers. Her system of scaling up her business has been proven to be successful and she shares what is working for her now! She also talks about the challenges of running a business while keeping up with family life, and how not to let either suffer.
You don’t want to miss this episode! Listen in to hear Lauren’s story and learn practical strategies you can use today to start growing your laundromat business.
Women in the Industry Meetup
In this episode, we discuss:
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Jordan Berry 0:00
Hey, what’s up guys, it’s Jordan with the Laundromat Resource podcast is a show 116 And I am pumped here today because today’s guests Lauren Borkowski, it’s the second time on, but her and I have been scheming secretly behind the scenes for quite some time now. And what we are doing is I’m very excited about I’m very, very excited about I’ma tell you about that in a second. But real quick, this interview is incredible. I was just looking over the notes. A couple of the things that we talk about today is Well, number one, she found number her number for Laundromat. And she works full time and is running now for Laundromat and is killing it. And we talked about advertising and marketing, which that’s what she does for her day job. We talked about how to own Laundromat an hour away, we talked about how to find a manager hiring tips, how to train employees how to navigate pricing with close competitor. I mean, we talked about a whole bunch of stuff in this episode, which I’m super excited about so many practical things that we talked about. However, what I’m most excited about is what we’ve been scheming about which is, you know, we’ve been talking how there’s not a whole lot of things out there for women in this industry. And Lauren is very excited to do something about that. And so our first sort of foray into helping sort of get women in this industry connected with each other is we’re going to host Well, she’s going to host a meet up. And I’m not invited because I’m not a woman, although I do have a girl’s name. So I don’t know, maybe I can sneak in, oh, we’re gonna, I don’t know, she’s gonna host a meet up on May 18. For women in the industry, or if you’re a woman who wants to get into the industry, that also you can join that. And so very excited about that, that is May 10, you can find out information about that and sign up for it at Laundromat resource.com/events. So head over there and sign up for that if you’re a woman in the industry and you are interested in that, bookmark it on your calendar, you’re not going to want to miss it. You also should be if it’s between now and May 18 2023, you should be able to just go to Laundromat resource.com. And there should be a sign up right on top of the page there. So go sign up for that. It’s going to be very cool, very, very excited about it. And okay, I’ve said excited, like six times. So I am excited though. And there’s Lucky Seven. All right. One more thing that I am very excited. I don’t know. I’m just excited right now. I’m just very excited. But one more thing. And this is today’s fast lane tip is the day before that meetup. So this is May 17 2023. We have our next mastermind induction, which is a mastermind group is just a small group of people who have a similar mindset who are heading in the same direction. So if you’re in this industry, you’re trying to get in the industry. And you want to be in a group of maybe three to five other people that meet on a regular basis to help everybody achieve their goals quicker, whether you own laundromats now or you’re trying to get into the business, the mastermind might be the best and biggest tool that you have in order to help you achieve those goals faster. And you know, the whole Jim Rohn I think it’s Jim Rohn quote, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You got to be in proximity with people who can help you get to where you’re trying to go in life and mastermind group is the best way. I’ve mentioned before I’ve paid a lot of money to be in mastermind groups over the years and do still currently right now. This one is included with the pro community. So if you’re interested in joining a mastermind group, head over to Laundromat resource.com/probe And go check that out over there. If you have any questions let me know alright. Alright, that’s it. Let’s jump into it was Lauren Borkowski. Don’t forget may 18 women in the industry beat up, which I’m very excited about, as you know, and go sign up for that. Okay, let’s jump into it. Lauren. Lauren, welcome back on the show. Super, super pumped that you’re here. How you doing?
Unknown Speaker 4:10
Thanks so much. Jordan doing great.
Jordan Berry 4:13
Yeah, yeah, I am super excited to have you back on. I know. I mean, there’s a lot of stuff going on. We kind of talked about I kind of talk about predicting the future here. But I talked about it in the intro when I go and record it later. And a lot of cool stuff happening in the industry right now. And a lot of cool stuff happening with you right now. In your personal businesses. A lot of cool stuff happening with us right now. We’re trying to do some cool stuff together. So exciting. Exciting times. Yeah. Yeah. But since it will, real quick, you know, I was gonna say since you’ve been on you’ve had some cool stuff happening that we’re going to talk about, but why don’t you give us just in case. You know, people haven’t heard your last interview. Why don’t you give us little background which by the way, is it’s like number two or three or something of the most downloaded episodes of the podcast which is pretty crazy.
Speaker 2 5:11
Yeah, I was kind of amazed when you shared that that stat with me didn’t totally did not expect that in terms of like how many people would be interested in my my story and getting into the Laundromat business and you know, sharing some of my experience, which is a little bit unique, but definitely you know, with with owning right now, we actually we actually purchased another Laundromat location since we last spoke. So now we have four locations throughout the central Pennsylvania area, which is really cool. And we are continuing to grow our laundry service business. So we operate that oh, one of our one of our laundromats and we are looking to grow our in store Washington for business. So there’s a lot going on. I first got into the Laundromat business for those that that haven’t watched the other podcast episode. I got into it, just by you know, my family, basically, my father run ran laundromats until he passed away. And then my mom and I came into the picture and took those over. And we’ve been running them ever since. And I have since purchased a location from my mom. And I’m running that independently. And then I run the other three stores with in partnership with my mom, so
Speaker 3 6:32
crazy. All of that while you work a full time
Jordan Berry 6:39
job. Right, is that?
Speaker 2 6:41
Right? So in addition to the Laundromat duties, I actually have a couple other jobs, right, so I have a mom of two. So that’s a whole other job in its own. And then I actually work as a marketing consultant for like my, my nine to five. So I’ve been doing that for about 12 years now, which is crazy to say, I’ve worked with a number of different clients actually across the world, doing things from like CPG to energy. You name it in terms of the marketing tactics and what I did for clients. It’s really interesting in terms of what I’ve been able to do behind the scenes in addition to running my Laundromat. So
Jordan Berry 7:26
yeah, well, I feel like okay, so I mean, you mentioned already you bought your fourth Laundromat, right? And you’re kind of ramping up trying to ramp up some some drop off laundry or some Washington fold left and fold. Whatever. We need to standardize. Can we all unite together somehow all of us everyone? Yes, pick a name for that. I think that would just fear something for everything. So let’s figure out a way to standardize that service that we offer. It would definitely helped with my Google ad budgets. Yeah, exactly. Where I was spending too much money because you got to hit like seven keywords for that. Yeah. Yeah. So you know, you’re, you’re doing all that, while being a mom while working full time. And I kind of feel like, when you when you buy your fourth Laundromat kind of feels like, you know, like, you have a kid it’s like, life changing. It’s crazy. You have a second one. And it’s like, well, I already have one. So you know, right do but there’s one, like at number three or number four, I probably number three or now the kids out number. The parents you’re like, Okay, we’re not man demand anymore. We’re zone defense kind of thing. Right. And I feel like that fourth Laundromat is almost like that third kid where you’re like, you can kind of manage one, two, maybe three, three is kind of on the border there and four is like a different level in my mind for some reason. Yeah. Is that true for you? Has Has that proved to sell?
Speaker 2 8:59
Well, no, we so we’ve actually purchased it in August last year. So we have i What is that? Like is that six, six months approximately? Since we purchased and I mean, I agree with you, I would say we so we did at one point have another fourth laundry, however, and we sold that. It just that that wasn’t the right fit for us in terms of like the location and things like that. So we have a little bit of experience. That was a different year, that was more of a little bit of a mom and pop store. Not as large as this this fourth location, but it definitely being so the other factor here is it’s an hour from our house. So all of our other laundries were between like 15 minutes to 4045 minutes or so. So that extra I think, 15 minutes, you know, believe it or not each way, right? Yeah, driving down there, right and back twice a week at this point is is how frequently we’re going to that store. It definitely was a, you know, it’s a change. And it’s more time and more effort. However, I feel like, we have gotten so good in terms of our systems, our finances, how we run and operate a store. It felt like, okay, we can definitely do, you know, do this and take this on as a challenge. And the store itself was actually, you know, operating really well, in terms of like, how, how the store was, was being managed, we’ve changed a few things, but nothing crazy. So we knew we were walking into something that was like, Okay, this is, you know, making money. It has a staff, one of the staff members ended up retiring, which was totally fine. And we actually ended up bringing somebody else, someone who’s like a part time manager who is really great, a really great resource. So I would say, without, you know, our knowledge and our experience, and like how our operations blueprint, if you want to call it and probably that pert, that assistant manager, right, like we wouldn’t be as successful as we are. But overall, the store is thriving, it’s doing well. It does have some really close competition, which has been interesting because some of our other stores don’t have that close competition in terms of proximity. So we’ve had to tread a little bit lightly in terms of like pricing and adjustments there. We actually purchased the Laundromat from another owner from the owner. He had another Laundromat in town, so he has two locations and he sold one. So we’re still in contact with him. You know, we’re in communication with them around pricing, we don’t want to price ourselves out. Because they are they are pretty close and in terms of proximity, but overall, that’s doing well. I did have a really, I had an interesting experience happening again. If you listen to my previous podcast, I talked about Christmas Eve of what would that be like? 2021 Yes, Christmas New 2021 My Laundromat had like a total sewer backup. Had to go down there I cleaned it up shut down the store for like several days to get our entire sewer line replaced. And I jokingly said like oh haha, nothing bad can happen again this year, the sewer six. And literally our newest location. The one we just purchased, unfortunately got so cold here in Pennsylvania. I think it was about negative it felt like negative 13 and we had a water. A water leak water break on Christmas Eve. No. Yeah. I feel like I jinxed myself. But it wasn’t as bad as we thought we thought like the whole store needed shut down. But it ended up just being one washer. So like knocking on wood right now.
Jordan Berry 13:06
Did the pipe free? I don’t understand how that works, because I’ve never been in that cold weather. But
Speaker 2 13:12
yeah, yeah, you’re spoiled but it normally you know, I will say it was very it was really cold. It normally doesn’t get that cold and stay that cold. And it was it was in it felt like the negatives for I think over 24 hours. And I think that’s why like our you know, our Laundromat wasn’t able to sustain the heat behind behind the washer. So now we have a electric heater back there for the days like it’s really cool.
Jordan Berry 13:40
That’s that’s so wild. Yeah, that would never even crossed my mind to have to do something like that. Yeah, yeah. All right, can we back up a little bit? You just said a lot of stuff. And I was like, oh yeah. Write down like what are the questions I need to ask so Okay, well let’s back up to this fourth one real quick. Okay, first of all, how did you come across this Laundromat? How did you find it?
Speaker 2 14:09
So we came across it online. Actually, believe it or not one of those like buy biz sell websites. For me, I’ve had some really bad leads on there right or brokers that just like weren’t it wasn’t the right fit for us. But I try to I try to go on there a few times a month just check out and see what the marketplace looks like. It was really funny both my mom and I saw the ad like on the same day we must have been looking and like I had reached out and she actually had reached out to to the broker and he was like, Hey, are you guys the same people view the same last name. Like yeah, yes, we’re together. So it it you know, we we first reached out, signed, the infirm gave him the information that we needed to get some of the numbers that looked good on paper. You know, we had some conversations with the owner in terms of like, why he was selling, what his experience was like running those Laundromat, which he actually had Ryan with his father. So I think that that was like kind of an interesting situation. Some parallels there. And he had he, like I said, he was running two stores at the time. And he was looking to retire. So,
Jordan Berry 15:39
yeah, so you found it online. So I mean, are you were you just like always kind of on the prowl for laundromats? Or what
Speaker 2 15:46
I mean? Yeah, absolutely. So like, when we spoke, that was nine months ago. And we’re always looking in terms of just looking online, you know, networking with our distributors, networking with other Laundromat owners, believe it or not, you know, Craigslist, just just even just typing Laundromat for sale. And then looking on Facebook, like there. There are some things out there that you will find, and I will say, this definitely wasn’t the first deal, right? We had gone through a number of like, contacts. Do you deals that that unfortunately, fell through for one reason or another? And we ended up here. So I, I believe in trusting the process, you know, and if something doesn’t feel right, it’s not right. And if it doesn’t happen, for me, it’s like, okay, that’s for a good reason. So we were definitely were selective about the next store that we took on, we didn’t want to take on anything that was too much of a time investment at this point, just simply because like I’m I’m working right, my mom actually is working she, she has a nine to five, that she works in the finance industry. So we’re busy, right, and then my husband’s running around all day, to varying laundry mat locations. And then he’s doing our laundry service business. And running that with another team member. So we’re we were kind of like a little trepidatious in terms of like taking this on. But we definitely felt like it was the right opportunity. And a way that we could just grow grow our portfolio Laundromat. So that’s our I mean, that’s our goal. We want to make smart investments, we don’t want to just like rush into something. And you know, if it’s not if it’s not looking great on paper, we’re, we’re gonna walk away.
Jordan Berry 17:59
Yeah. Yeah, that’s awesome. So you said this one was a little bit bigger than that. Your first fourth Laundromat? How big is this one.
Speaker 2 18:09
So it’s, it’s not huge. It is, I think it’s like 2100 square feet. That’s good. So it’s a decent size. It’s actually in a shopping mall, which is our first location in like a larger shopping center. So it’s a little bit different of a dynamic, the town has a completely different dynamic than some of our other locations. I actually, I really liked the store, I wish it wasn’t an hour away, because I would probably be spending a little bit more time there. I would love to spend more time there. But again, it just it felt like okay, this could be the next, you know, this is the the next right move for us in terms of just feasibility and how we’re running things. Because if I had to be there, you know, every day I would, I would struggle. Yeah, I just I don’t have the capacity. So, you know, the machines were all operational. There. Some of them are, you know, they’re not the newest of the newest, right? But they’re, you know, within five years. In terms of manufacturing, the structure was all there. And there’s room to expand to in terms of the the Washington fold business. So right now, they were doing they were doing no advertising, no marketing whatsoever. No promotion of the Laundromat short of just having like a Google page that they never really updated. So we came in we you know, started doing Google ads, social ads to get people to actually come into the location. And you know, we are experiencing an uptick in in revenue there which is great. And then eventually we would love to add like actually like pickup and drop off. I’m sorry. Delivery server This, whatever whatever that was the right term. Is there
Jordan Berry 20:04
a delivery? Pickup? Yeah. Oh, yeah.
Speaker 2 20:07
Yes, yes. At somebody’s home or business. So that’s that’s down the road a little bit because it does, you know, cause a little bit of a logistical challenge. We’re looking at some partnerships there. But definitely on our, you know, on our radar in terms of expanding revenue there.
Jordan Berry 20:27
Yeah, pretty crazy. Okay. Well, I mean, can we talk about like, what are what have you learned owning a Laundromat in our way? Because I get asked about this all the time. Right? How far away? Can I own? Can I own an hour too far is an hour and a half too far. You know, so what have you learned in terms of owning further away and knowing that you sort of intentionally bought a stable business an hour away, also. So keep that in mind if you’re listening to this? But yeah, you know, what have you learned here?
Speaker 2 20:58
Yes, this is not a Laundromat that needs a ton of TLC. So just to be really transparent, it needs modernized a little bit in terms of aesthetics, but it’s very functional. And like I said, the staff was, was there and we, you know, brought somebody on. For me, I mean, I do not recommend this as your first Laundromat. And this is, you know, you’re an hour away, you are going to need to spend so much time there, to really get to understand the business, and really understand, you know, how things operate. And really, you have to get your hands dirty in this business, right? Like you need to understand how to fix things. How to provide great customer service, a good experience, also be a good employer, like there’s so many layers to what we do as a Laundromat owner. I just don’t, I don’t personally think that that’s the right move. You know, if you’re just getting started in this industry, is it possible, I mean, anything is possible when you put your mind to it, right. I will say you have to like to drive. So do you know if you’re if you’re great at that. Good. We actually have so we purchased the van in 2020 for our laundry service, which we you know, we just bought it for the laundry service, not really thinking about the laundromats. And it’s it’s actually been a blessing for us because now we don’t have to use like our personal vehicles to go places. And it also doubles as a place to put you know, all of your tools, all of your supplies that you may or may not need, because you’re an hour away. And if you forget something, you know, you’re going to Home Depot down the street, you’re not driving back home an hour and then back down. So definitely in terms of just being you know, operationally excellent being as organized as possible. Communicating with your employees has been really important. I will say that we definitely have made sure we have a presence in the store. So despite being an hour away, we’re down there twice a week. So we’re making sure that we’re there, we’re talking to customers, you know, we’re answering the phone when they call and there’s a problem. We’re responding to them when they have a complaint or a concern or something like that. So we’re still very involved, you know, we’re involved as much as possible. And I will say having the hiring our assistant manager was was really good. Because she is there multiple times a day. So she’ll be there like for a set a set time period during the day. She also happens to run the walk in Washington fold business. So she is a great person where we’re like, Hey, this is an emergency, can you help us out? I don’t know that we would I feel like we would be struggling a little bit more. If we didn’t have that person that we could call and say, Hey, this is a challenge right now. Can you help us out? We’ve gone down there of course, when there’s you know, been been something going on. But having that support, and somebody that you trust is really important. And all of that. So
Jordan Berry 24:20
yeah, so how did you find your, your manager? I mean, that’s that seems to be tricky right now, too.
Speaker 2 24:26
Yeah. So in full transparency. We knew this person, however, they were living in a different town like 30 minutes away. And then before we actually purchased the Laundromat, they actually ended up moving into the town that we purchased the Laundromat in. And we this was not this was not at all intentional. We didn’t know this until after we purchased the Laundromat. Because the staff that was there was actually supposed to come over with us. We had had conversations with them It was part of the due diligence and said, like, Hey, here’s what we’ll offer you, we, you know, we raised their, their wages, like we had a meeting with them, like, we were very transparent, we’re like, we’re not changing, you know, we’re not changing your shifts, we’re not changing anything, because you’re just getting a raise. So, but turns out the one person wanted to retire. So that then created the opportunity for us to bring in somebody with just a little bit of a different experience a little bit of a different style in terms of like customer service. And yeah, we were like, Okay, this is perfect. So it was, again, I feel like it was a little bit of fate. You know, if, if this one and have worked out, and she wouldn’t have wanted to come on, you know, I would have just hired somebody from indeed, which can be a challenge. I’m hiring right now for actually three locations, which is, it’s difficult. But I think you just have to keep, keep trying and putting yourself out there. And hopefully, the right person will come along. And I will also say, make sure you’re paying people a like a livable wage, because if you’re paying them, you know, nine $10 Now, or I know, California is a totally different scenario than Pennsylvania, but our minimum wage, I think is like 725. Like that, nobody can live off of that. And unfortunately, some of these locations that we’ve acquired, they’re getting paid like 850. And I just, I’m baffled by it. So anyways, I think that’s key, paying, you know, paying people having a good support system for them, training, beaches, just communicating, I think also really helps to.
Jordan Berry 26:55
Yeah, yeah, that’s, I mean, man, if you’re hiring for three location, how do you how do you navigate that when you’re down employees like that you have a job. I mean, it sounds like you’ve pretty good team, like between yourself, your mom, your husband, you’ve got like, you can juggle around a little bit responsibilities and, and step in, if you guys need to, maybe you’re juggling it, how are you so
Speaker 2 27:21
well, so we don’t, we don’t just hire one, like, we don’t have one cleaning person at each location. So when we would lose somebody, we would have other people that could kind of like step in and support. So essentially, we’re like, shuffling around the schedule, you know, each week to make sure that we still have the coverage that we need. And then we’ll step in for sure. Like, my mom, like she like actually really likes to clean the Laundromat. So she right now has a shift at our closest location that she takes on. And does the cleaning, which is no problem, you know, because when you’re already there at the Laundromat going through and cleaning, I mean, it’s it’s not a huge deal. So usually when my husband will go down and you know, do some maintenance or whatever collecting coin he’ll he’ll clean at the same time. So we’re just we’re working around it for right now. Thankfully, we have the people that you know, are there are great at what they do. And we’ve had we, you know, have had them be able to like work around that. So not a huge deal. However, the the people that we’re hiring for we went so we’re trying to actually get some more coverage in the stores, like we want more cleaning people and more customer service just like to be there more often. Because we’re noticing. So we’re noticing a couple of things. Our stores are definitely getting dirtier, like faster. I think that might have something to do with the winter, perhaps like our floor, some one of our some of our locations have just been like, I’m like I go in there. And I’m like, has this been mopped. And it was just mopped, right. So we feel like we’d invest a little bit more just to get more cleaning. And then also with the Washington fold. We’re hoping that the high the new hires can basically you know, do both so they’re able to do more cleaning in the store, have more presence offer more of a positive customer experience. And then on top of that be able to fulfill this, this new revenue that we’re hoping to generate within the store itself. So we’re gonna see it’s a little bit of an experiment. I’m hoping we find the right people, you know, that’s always the toughest part. But I am not in a position where I’m like, Okay, I have to hire somebody tomorrow. You know, thankfully, that could happen. At any point in time, right, so I do a lot of my little some people will do the recruiting in the store, which is fine. I think it depends on the location, some people are great. I’ve had some bad experiences recruiting people from in the store too. So I think I think it’s a big It depends, right. But I also have used indeed, in the past where I’ve been able to get a lot of respondents, you know, I weed through them, I look at their, their resume. And then what I usually do is set up like a block of time that says, come in to the Laundromat at this time to fill out your application. So I’m not stuck for hours waiting for people. I’m not in that business, right? So I try to do as much as I can before, make sure I have the right people, you know, call them on the phone, make that connection, and then say, hey, come in, during this time range and fill out an application, and then we do a background check. If everything works out, you know, we bring them on to the team, we do the hands on training for a couple a couple of shifts, like we don’t just like let them go off and do their own thing. So yeah, that’s that’s kind of how we’re doing hiring right now. But like I said, it’s a it’s a really interesting time period. I, I’ve seen people lose their jobs, and need new jobs. So I’m, I’m optimistic about it. And I’m grateful that like we can employ people and give them an opportunity. For sure.
Jordan Berry 31:39
Yeah, totally. That was a it took me like, one of the things I don’t like about this podcast is I feel like I ended up telling everybody all the embarrassing things about how I did everything wrong. Took me like an embarrassing amount of time to figure out that whole redundancy in an employee’s right, instead of hiring one or two people for longer amount of hours or more hours. It just makes sense to have you know, a few part time employees and maybe one full time employee if you need somebody full time, right? So that you can make that shuffle. Because I you know, I just remember I was like covering a shift. While I was like between hires, and I was like, why? I’m like wiping down machines or whatever. And I’m like, why don’t I just hire a few people and split the hours between it like, yeah, like, it’s so obvious, right? But it took me an embarrassing amount of time to figure that out. So just you go into that whole process. Go through that whole process is super helpful. I appreciate you. Yeah, sure. Yeah.
Speaker 2 32:46
I mean, I would say, so for us. And you’re and again, you’ll figure this out, right? In terms of like, when you’re busy days when you’re busy times, like that’s how and that’s why we are a little fluid there until we can figure out things and things change between summer and winter. And one of our stores we realized we needed more people on Saturday and Sunday. So now we have three set shifts, Saturday and Sunday. Instead, Monday through Friday, we’re at two shifts. So it just it honestly depends. You know, we might decide like our one store, we decided, hey, we need to bring somebody on. In addition to Saturday and Sunday, Friday is really busy. So we just we have to work around that, you know, depending on each store. Yeah. Patience. So
Jordan Berry 33:47
yeah. When you’re when you’re looking at resumes, what are you looking for at those? I mean, you said you kind of pick through the resumes What are you looking for in those resumes.
Speaker 2 33:57
So ideally, some some form of customer interface, like in terms of their experience, some form of janitorial experience would be a positive for me. Length of employment, like I don’t want somebody that’s been working, you know, they’re working three months, three months, three months next job next job. I would love to hire somebody that is like committed to being a part of our of our organization. So I’m usually looking at tenure. I’m not you know, I’m not super picky, right? Like I’m willing to give people a chance and a job but I need somebody that like wants to work. I do need people to pass a background check though and that can be a little bit challenging, especially in this industry. So I you know, again, I give people a second chance right? Like I’m not gonna say no to you I look at the situation. There certain things are just like non negotiable for me as far as like a background check goes you know, if you’re dealing with money and customers, there’s just there’s certain things I just I just won’t budge on. But for the most part, um, you know, I’m, I’m willing to give people a shot. So
Jordan Berry 35:15
yeah, that’s awesome. Okay, show up,
Speaker 2 35:17
be on time. Be nice to people. Like, that’s my main goal and like, please do just clean clean Laundromat.
Jordan Berry 35:25
Yeah. Well, and you know, it’s probably a good sign, if you’re feeling well could be, I guess, a bad sign to you. But if you’re Laundromat to get dirtier than used to do either you got bad cleaners, or you got more traffic coming through, right. And hopefully,
Speaker 2 35:40
ladder, I also think our parking lot is dirty in this location to be transparent. So I have like, reached out to our landlord and was like, Hey, I think we need like some lock cleanup. You know, like, we have a cam charge. And that’s part of it. So I just like reached out to and like, there’s a lot of stones that kind of come in, and they just know, it’s that time of year, right? Like we’re there salt down because of the snow. So it’s just like, we just have to do more, I think. Yeah, and people are messy. Like, we can clean in the morning. It’s pristine. And then like literally like an hour later. It’s like a bomb went off in there. So yeah.
Jordan Berry 36:23
I said it before. As soon as the dryer sheet hits the ground, it’s a free for all, you can throw your fried chicken bones all over the place, divers, stick them to the wall, and it doesn’t matter. As soon as that drops, free for all. Yeah,
Speaker 2 36:36
it’s an extension of their home, which I like, you know, come in and do your laundry, I get that I want a very inviting environment. I don’t want people to feel, you know, bad about doing your laundry, my location, but people that take it too far. I’m just like, why? You know?
Jordan Berry 36:56
When you when you hire somebody, can you? I mean, I have to go into like crazy detail. But like, can you talk a little bit about? What’s your process of getting them up to speed? Do you have like a standard training process? Does it depend? How does that work?
Speaker 2 37:11
Well, it will depend on what you were hired for. So like, if you’re just solely doing laundry, that’s different. But if you are doing like a cleaning that looks a little different, some people do both. So we do have, we’ve developed like a manual, like as far as onboarding goes, and like some of our processes and like responsibilities go that is actually presented. So the the responsibilities and duties would like be presented to that person as part of hiring. So they know like what’s expected of them. And then as far as like the training is concerned, that’s when we’re going through, you know, there’s varying manuals to kind of say, Okay, you’re cleaning, here’s what’s expected of you. And your shift here is the supplies, here are the things that you need to like, Okay, if there’s an emergency, call me for this, call me for that. Don’t call me for this. Don’t call me for that. So just going through like operationally what’s expected. That’s like, day one. And then we will actually go through like, if it is somebody cleaning or doing the laundry, we will actually go through the shift like with them, and do the cleaning in partnership with them, or the laundry in partnership with them. So they can see like exactly what is expected. And again, like we have, we have like a checklist. So each shift, the person that’s coming in is supposed to go down the checklist and say I did all these things. You know, the dryer lint screens were cleaned on Wednesday, like, we have things that we’re putting in place across all the stores, so that way, they’re, you know, operating as closely as possible. And we’re very crystal clear on like, what is expected of the employee. So hands on training, we’re there to support. Most people pick it up pretty quickly. So we only needed to do a handful of shifts with them. But, you know, I’ve never really had anybody had a problem. I’ve heard people walk out like a weekend say I can’t do this anymore. So that happens. That’s always fun when you invest a lot of time on training and, and getting people up to speed but that’s why we have like, things put in place so I’m not recreating the wheel every time you know. That’s That’s never fun. Yeah.
Jordan Berry 39:31
It is never fun and getting that consistency is tough when you don’t have it standardized and clear for everybody who’s who’s going through the shifts with the people is it you your husband, your boss and your manager who’s
Speaker 2 39:45
it depends on who’s who’s available, frankly, like we’re my between my mom debonair and myself, we’re just we’re in it together, right? So we’re communicating constantly. We have like a group text going that really You know, if my mom’s up for it, she likes that stuff. So I’m like, Okay, you go do it. But if she’s not, then I’ll, I’ll go in there and double go in there, or some of other employees that are, you know, if they’ve been, they’ve been there for a long time, they’re willing to like, say, hey, I’ll take that person on on my shift. And we’ll do this together. So there are you know, we create opportunities for people to like mentor others. And but, but I will say we, we do a lot of stuff ourselves. And again, we’re running four laundromats and one laundry service. At some point, this is going to be unattainable. So I just want to stress depending on where you are in your journey, maybe store one you’re really hands on, you know, four stores, we have split between three people. And then 10 stores. I mean, I don’t know how you would do it without like a full time manager. I really don’t. Yeah, yeah.
Jordan Berry 40:53
That’s at that point. You’re, you’re bringing people on, you’ve got a bigger team. Right. And you have more levels to go there. But yeah, but I mean, all the things that you just said, like I just been taken note. I mean, this is awesome. This is exactly why you and I have been talking and why you have come on board to offer consulting services. So I mean, if you’re, if you’re loud, the way that I’m loud with what Lauren is doing, and you want to talk more with her, you know, you can go book a call with her anytime Laundromat resource.com/coaching. So I just, I know, it’s probably awkward for you to plug yourself but I will plug you because you are doing some crazy incredible stuff. You know, with your with your business and doing it while working a nine to five, which is double incredible. So yeah. Okay, so I wanted to go back again to this number four. So you bought the Laundromat from, from somebody who has another Laundromat in the same city, same town, same town and not too far away.
Unknown Speaker 42:02
Now, it’s literally like a mile down the road.
Jordan Berry 42:05
That’s really interesting to me, right? Because I tried to think of a scenario where I’d like want to sell a lot like a Laundromat to competitor who’s gonna compete directly with me on that other one.
Speaker 2 42:20
So I definitely I think he does eventually that was so that was his original store, the one he didn’t sell. And I think it has sentimental value, which I understand. Because that was like his dad’s for store. So I think he wants to hang on to that like a little bit longer. But yeah, it was it’s this town was interesting, because there are there are four laundromats within I want to say a three mile radius, which is a small town, like it’s not a very big town. Everybody has their, you know, their different advantage. Everybody has their little like customer base were, you know, very polite to each other. I actually know, I know, the other owners too.
Jordan Berry 43:08
So we’re all so yeah, it’s community. Yeah, I
Speaker 2 43:12
mean, we’re, we get it, we’re in the same business together, right. So like we are competitors. But at the same time, I, you know, we’re all there to serve the same customer base and provide a service, I will say each one of them has their advantages. I know, we’re definitely one of the cleanest in terms of just coming into the laundry and having a positive experience there. And the fact that we have people there on site, they’re not there all the time, but they’re there, you know, during our peak busy times, I definitely think that that helps because it adds to the overarching customer experience. So
Jordan Berry 43:50
how do you how do you navigate pricing when you have, like close competitors like that? And that’s a big struggle for a lot of people. Yes, it is. Especially Sorry to interrupt, but especially when things are going great. Like here in California, we’ve got utility costs going up, I think other places too, you know, interest rates go on and all that stuff is happening. And that puts pressure on us because we have to adjust our pricing. But if our competitors don’t it, it can be tough. How do you navigate that?
Speaker 2 44:21
Yeah, so you’re 100% Correct. We when we purchased the store, we were like this is so the prices are so low. They were it was just I was blown away that this person was you know, making a profit here. So we just I mean, the lowest priced FrontLoader we had to have it, we updated it a quarter. That’s all we could do and feel comfortable about doing it. And then so that was back in August. And as part of the as part of the sale we were actually trying to get the previous owner to up the prices before we put Just the Laundromat Peden he didn’t want to our Washington fold is a different price. Because it was so low. I mean, I, Jordan. I was like, how are they making money? You know, they’re literally not. So um, we updated that independently. But he’s not doing actually none, none of these other laundromats are doing any digital marketing now, hope they’re not listening. I didn’t say what location, they don’t know where I’m at, but they’re not doing any of that. So I’m hopeful that if we can continue to invest, you know, in in that tool, we’re actually going to be getting a website soon, too, that was on my list for this year, so I’m going to be able to get people to, you know, engage a little bit more, get some more information about us online. I’m hoping that that will then help with additional revenue for the store. But yeah, it’s an interesting, it’s an interesting situation. And I’m just for the longest, I’m just like, how, how have they been successful operating at this at this level, and my other stores, like, my electric bill went tripled. Same with the gas, and it’s been like, I’m, I’m updating pricing across the board. And it’s not just a quarter, unfortunately, like, I hate to do it. I’m not that person that’s like, you know, trying to get extra money. And it’s, it’s just like, operating costs, right? And we need to be profitable, and I need to be able to pay myself, and I need, and I need to be able to pay my employees and give them a livable wage. And I can’t do that, if I’m giving away free services, unfortunately, because it’s, you know, it’s getting passed on to the consumer. But it’s passed to me from from all of these varying organizations that, unfortunately, we have to work with. So
Jordan Berry 47:10
yeah, no, it’s true. I mean, and that’s, you know, one of the things we’re not good at, across the industry typically is raising those prices when we need to, and operational costs will eat into your profits, and then eventually consume all of your profits, if you don’t act, and especially, I mean, we’ve seen a lot of inflation happening. And, you know, I think, in a lot of parts of the country, the the practical inflation that we have felt in our industry, in the things that we need to utilize and consume for our businesses is even higher than, you know, the average inflation, right? Yeah. And so we have got to be on top of that stuff. Otherwise, we’ll end up either with zombie mats that aren’t really making money or will end up out of business. Exactly. That’s tough, though. It is tough. And, and especially because, you know, a lot of us serve a lower income demographic, right. And so it’s hard to raise prices, because we just know, like, everybody’s being squeezed right now.
Speaker 2 48:18
Exactly. I do. I do think like the laundry service, that’s more of like a luxury item. Right? That that is less of a concern for me, but it’s really like, you know, we’re there to provide people the ability to wash their clothes. And, like, that is a basic level of service that people need, you know, it’s it’s up there with food, you know, and shelter and health care. So,
Jordan Berry 48:46
yeah, but if you’re not making enough money to cover your costs, and having a profit to be able to pay yourself, you can’t serve the community, right. Like, that’s, that’s what it comes down to. And that’s the perspective shift, I think a lot of us need is, you know, if you want to do something good for the community, you need to be able to charge enough to be able to do something good for the community, otherwise can’t. Exactly that’s, you know,
Speaker 2 49:13
that I wouldn’t be able to employ my staff like it just it’s just a trickle down effect. And I think people don’t understand how expensive it is to actually run a Laundromat. Like, it’s just it’s gotten more and more and more expensive every time I go to Costco and like that, that price went up, you know, or the I go online to buy soap and now it’s like $20 more than what it was pre pandemic and I was actually losing money on my soap, unfortunately, and I looked at the numbers and I’m like, oh, no, I’m not making any money here at all. So I had to up my my soul pricing, which, again, I don’t love doing that, but I have like I have to it’s a part of anywhere I you know, I said to my husband, I’m like, you can’t go to McDonald’s and buy $1 Coke anymore. Nothing is there’s $1 menu and McDonald’s Right? Like, there literally isn’t. So, at this point, it’s to be expected. And I think it’s just a part of the economy and we just have to do what we have to do to survive. Yeah, for sure.
Jordan Berry 50:18
Yeah. Well, I mean, that’s awesome. Awesome input awesome insight into all that thank you for sharing. I mean, you shared a lot of like crazy cool stuff about you know, the hiring process, the training process, navigating pricing, like all this, like, so good. So good. So good book, call it Lauren, if you’re, if you’re navigating any that you’re trying to get into this business, awesome stuff. Okay. Love to
Speaker 2 50:42
talk to people about that. I would also, you know, if there’s things like around marketing, that people have a question about, if they’re, like just getting into the business, or they just purchase their, their new Laundromat, or if they’re, you know, an existing business, but they’re looking to expand, because they may have a scenario like me, where nobody was doing any digital marketing in the town that, that we just purchased our Laundromat. And so I would say each, each location is different, right. And each scenario is different. So I’ve had experience and so many different things, and definitely open to talking to people in you know, about the Laundromat industry. And then I have all of that my experience in the marketing world. So I feel like that, at least gives me a little bit of advantage. You know, I’m able to operationally run the stores, but then also like, market them to, which is, which has definitely been a big help. For me personally.
Jordan Berry 51:44
Yeah, totally. And a huge opportunity in most of our markets. Right, low hanging fruit, like you said, you’re in, you’re in a town with a couple of little laundromats, and they’re just not doing it at all right. And so that gives you a big advantage can give most of us a big advantage if we’re even even doing a little bit of it. And then if you put together a full plan and implement it, I mean, you can really tell their story. Yeah, yeah. Well, it leads this leads naturally, I think into another thing that we’ve been talking a lot about is women in, in our industry. And, you know, there’s, that I know of and I don’t know if you know of anything else, but there’s there’s not a whole lot that’s directed specifically towards women in this industry. And I think there’s some maybe I don’t know, we’ve talked a little bit about some of your unique challenges. I don’t know you want to share anything about? What’s it like being a woman owner?
Speaker 2 52:41
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, for me, so I feel like this, like, women in business in general. Like, I hate to say this, but I feel like sometimes were counted out or maybe looked down upon a little bit in terms of just respect, and abilities. I’ve experienced in my professional career, as you know, a marketing consultant, but in the Laundromat, specifically, I mean, just just even talking to distributors. And then discounting you, surrounding like, what your experiences and like, what you know what you’re talking like, I know what I’m talking about, right? And if I don’t, I’m gonna ask the questions, and I’m there for a reason. And I’ve experienced things that just, it’s not right. Like, in terms of how I was treated. Um, and I’ve learned that you have to be, you know, assertive a little bit, you have to communicate, you have to stick up for yourself. I’m not one to sit back and like, let somebody disrespect me, or, you know, provide me a subpar experience just because I’m a woman. I even just walking around, I will say this, the convention in Atlanta last year, like I definitely didn’t feel like it’s male dominated, for sure. And the diversity is just it’s not there, for me, industry wide. But again, I feel like that’s kind of similar in other industries, too. But I feel like women can totally do this, right. Like, you can totally run a Laundromat by yourself. I saw my mom do it for several years before I came in to help her after my kids are a little bit older. It takes, you know, it just takes a little bit more effort, which is unfortunate. But I do feel like you know, having a voice is really important in this industry. I’m excited to be able to connect with other women. I think even just going to the convention I was able to like network and meet other women owners and prospective women owners. And we’re still connected, I connected with a few on Facebook on the Facebook group. And it’s for me, it’s really about like empowerment, encouragement, and also like sharing your, your experiences, because I think there’s something to like, I think there’s something they can learn from right. Like, sharing, how we’re working through things, sharing, how we’ve experienced something, how we’re combating, you know, a challenge, together, I feel like just makes us stronger. You know, and that my mentality is, like, um, I kind of like, joked about the fact that, um, you know, there’s four laundromats in small town and, you know, three miles around like, that’s, that’s kind of tough to be profitable, right. But I think it takes just being able to, like, network, and I said, I know all like, I actually know, all those owners, like I have their phone numbers in my phone. I know, that sounds crazy. But like just being able to put yourself out there and just try to, like, further what is what we’re doing in this industry, I think is, is really important. And I do like, I want to, I want to go back to the convention, like in a couple years, and I want to see like, more women walking around there, right. And women walking without their husbands like, I that’s like, I know, that might be a little far fetched. But I want to see more people be empowered and encouraged to be able to, like, do this and take this on. And it isn’t an investment. It’s a time investment. You know, there’s times where it’s stressful, and it can be challenging, but I do feel like all of us together. I mean, we we can do really great things. Right. And I think the Laundromat industry is one of those just like little hidden gems, right? Like, we’re kind of operating like, under, you know, the radar a little bit. We’re not a glamorized industry, it’s really, you know, some days are not fun, some days are messy and dirty. But then there, you know, are days that are super rewarding. And for me, I love making connections, it’s part of what I do, in my nine to five in terms of just what I do, I think it’s a part of my personality. So I definitely, for me want to grow my network, make more connections, and I really want to see more women succeed. I do.
Jordan Berry 57:38
That’s awesome. Yeah. And that’s, I mean, that’s why, you know, I mentioned in the future in the intro, we’re still working out the details now. But in the future, we will know the details. And that will be in the intro, or in the show notes or in if you’re on YouTube, in the description down below, there’ll be links to how you can get involved. So if you’re somebody who is a woman owner of a Laundromat, or if you’re someone who is a woman who is trying to get into this business, you know, we’re putting together a free call it a webinar, I don’t know how webinar free it will be, but at least would be a chance, an initial kind of chance to get together as women in the business to come together and, and start those conversations happen and start putting together more things to do together and more infrastructure of support for women in this industry. And Warren, I’ve been talking about how she’s, she’s pretty passionate about heading that up. And if you’re interested in either participating in that, or partnering with Lauren, and Laundromat Resource in doing that stuff, you know, go click on the links that are in the show notes or the description down below, or whatever I told you to do in the intro go do that, too. But I’m really excited about that. I think it’s awesome. I think that your kind of vision for this, for our industry is, is great. And I think it is needed. And I think that, you know, like you said in in a lot of industries, you know, women are either underrepresented or under supported. And you know, being able to, you know, put some representation and some support together for women in this industry, I think would be nothing but positive. We’re always talking about moving the industry forward. Right. This is one of those steps and moving the industry forward. So I’m super pumped about it. I’m super pumped about it.
Speaker 2 59:32
Yeah, I feel like we can be stronger when we’re like talking to each other. And we’re, you know, sharing those experiences. And if we’re just like siloed and like, in our own world and just going through it right, because I’ve been there before where I’m just like, oh, is this even worth it? You know, I’ve asked myself that. We have bad days sometimes but I feel like when I talk to people and why make that connection and it makes me feel better. And I hope it makes them you know, feel the same way. So and I, I’ve had the opportunity to meet people from different states, different countries. That’s been a really cool experience. And there’s one person that I’ve been connected with, and we’re going to try to meet up in person here. She just purchased like her first Laundromat, which was actually really exciting. I was really excited for her. She just got some equipment installed. And at some point where we’re hoping that we can meet up in person, but
Jordan Berry 1:00:36
awesome. Well, that’s the whole premise behind Laundromat Resource behind this podcast. So that’s true across the board for everybody. And especially, you know, for women to, to be able to do that, too. So that’s, I love that I am super excited about it super pumped about it, hopefully, if you fit the demographic and want to be a part of it, you’ll you’ll come join Lauren with, you know, at least this initial thing, as we work towards trying to figure out what this looks like long term. Yeah, you know, we’ve been talking about, you know, in person things and online things that, you know, you can engage in in a variety of different ways and support each other in a variety of different ways. So I’m super pumped. For me, this has been in credible as always, I’m sure this will be equally as popular, if not more so than your last interview. So thank you so much for coming on. And really, really appreciate you can’t for can’t wait to keep working together in you know whether that’s on the consulting side. So go book a call with Lauren, if you’re interested in consulting side, and seeing, you know, what we do together for women in this industry. Super excited about that,
Speaker 2 1:01:45
likewise, and looking forward to connecting with a bunch of people. All right.
Jordan Berry 1:01:49
All right. Well, on that note, if somebody wants to drop you a quick email, what’s the best way to contact you?
Jordan Berry 1:02:05
I’ll put so you can you contact her that way, book a call with her at Laundromat resource.com/coaching and do whatever I said in the intro, if you want to get involved in the women in the industry event. All right. Awesome. Thanks again, Lauren. And we’ll chat soon.
Unknown Speaker 1:02:23
Thanks, everyone. Thanks, Jordan.