Today’s episode is breaking news! Things have been changing in the laundromat industry faster than ever before and today’s interview marks what could be a pivotal moment in the history of our industry!
Mark Vlaskamp of The Folde and Alex Smereczniak of Laundrolab join Jordan today for this big announcement! They share a bit of their story and some wisdom and then talk about their shared vision for the future of the industry!
Join Mark, Alex, and Jordan for a live Q&A to discuss the implications of this potentially monumental shift in the industry!
Tuesday, July 6th, 2023
10am pst/1pm est
Watch The Podcast Here
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Hey, what’s up guys? It’s Jordan with the Laundromat Resource podcast. This is show 118 And a pumped you’re here today, because today, we have an exclusive announcement. Big changes are always happening in this industry lately, it’s been awesome to see just all the growth and development. This episode talks about a breaking news, something that just happened just went through the wire, and we’re announcing it right here. With an exclusive interview with two former guests of the podcast, we’ve got Mark last camp of the fold. And we’ve got Alex Schumer’s neck, from a laundry lab here today on the podcast together. And we’re going to talk a little bit about developments since they’ve been on the podcast, but then we’re going to get into some big changes in their businesses and big changes in the industry and how that might impact the industry going forward. I think this could change a lot of things. So really excited to hear what you guys think about this big announcement. And, you know, maybe drop a line on the forums, Laundromat resource.com/forums. I love to hear what you think about this, and the implications of this. And, man, enjoy this episode. And, you know, be thinking about how does this change things for you as a Laundromat owner or as a future Laundromat owner. So let’s jump into it with Mark and Alex. So I’m just I’m excited to get into it with him. So let’s jump into it. But real quick before we do. I just also wanted to say that on June 6, a no. July sorry, July 6 2023. When this couple weeks after this comes out July 6, we are going to do a live q&a with these guys to talk both about Laundromat franchises pickup and delivery answer questions about that and then also that answer any questions about this big announcement that they have today. So if you want to join us on that live q&a, check the link down below in the description if you’re on YouTube or in the show notes, which will be at Laundromat resource.com/show 118 118 And, and make sure you get signed up for that q&a. Come join us come be a part of it and bring your questions either about Laundromat franchises about pickup and delivery or about this big announcement. Alright, let’s jump into it with Alex and mark right now. All right, listen, this is an incredible, incredible thing because I am here with two legends Mark last camp from the fold. Alex Schmerzen AK Good luck spelling that for laundry labs and two laundry guys. What is going on today? How you doing? Mark?
I’m good. I’m good. Good to be back. Thanks for having us.
Dude, what an honor for me to have you and Alex, how you doing? Man?
I’m doing great. I had a good good weekend, got to recharge, recover a little bit and hit the ground running this week.
That’s what I’m talking about. That’s what I’m talking about. Well, hey, listen, we’ve got a lot of stuff to talk about. There’s a lot going on. We’ve got some pretty cool breaking news to break here in a second. But just to get us started. And I know both of you guys are former podcast guests here. But just to get us started. Why don’t you guys give us a quick little background of you guys and how you guys got your start in this industry and where you’re at now. And then we’ll kind of go from there. You want to kick us off? Mark?
Yeah, sure. Absolutely. We started as a delivery only service. We went around to every Laundromat owner in Austin asking if we could either do laundry in their facilities or if they would wholesale for us and have their their staff do it and we’ll pay them their retail price. Because we really wanted to chase after the delivery laundry thing we believed delivery laundry would be like delivery pizza and a couple years. Every single one of them told us No. So some were mean some were just rude. But anyways with that, that forced us to go build our own laundromats and by the by Laundromat. So we we kind of got into this delivery first model of Laundromat ownership where we were primarily focusing on delivery. scaled it pretty big for us. We were super proud of what we built and then decided to open again in Austin and try it again. And that’s where we are now we’ve got two laundromats they’re big they’re monster laundromats. 170 500 square feet, one’s 9200 9500 square feet. Yeah, big boys and in Texas. Yeah, kind of cliche.
I’ve heard bikinis. Yeah,
that’s the comparison we make on phone interviews. It’s like there’s most people think laundromats are dumpy, small, unclean, unsafe. And the comparison we make as a gas station down the block competitive bikinis and it gets them into the interview every time they’re curious to see what it looks like. Yeah, so we piled laundry delivery into our laundromats as much as we could. And here we are.
Yeah, awesome. And I mean when you get when you’re getting started So, how come everybody’s telling, you know, you can do laundry and they’re Laundromat?
I think it was. They enjoyed it when we were bringing like a couple of orders per day and maybe one or two people and they got real sick of us moving in and taking over their entire Laundromat. Eventually there was one really smart, really resourceful Laundromat owner. He said, Yes. We paid him a ton of money every month and Ben price and ultimately acquired his Laundromat for like a point to multiple. The day after we closed. He showed up in the force like that guy. Yeah, he took a risk on us. And he earned every penny that he made.
Yeah, dang. That’s crazy. I remember. I mean, I think I shared this last time you’re on the episode, but I remember you, you texted me a video of you had some guys unloading a truck full of laundry and then you just started panning around and like there was laundry stacked on the sidewalks outside and you took me in a Laundromat and there was laundry all along the sides. And all on the bulkheads stacked and there’s laundry everywhere. It was insane. I was like, holy cow. This guy’s killing it. Pretty wild. Yeah, it’s really
cool to send videos like that. And then you end the recording and you realize you have to get it all done. Pretty quick.
Yeah, I mean, it was great for me, because I just got to watch it. I didn’t have to actually process any of that laundry. It was pretty awesome. Alex, tell us a little bit about you. How did you get in this industry? I know you have a unique story. You’ve shared it on the podcast. But give us a quick overview of how you got into this business.
Yeah, and you need lessons from Mark on how he condensed six years of blood, sweat and tears and iteration into a 62nd overview like that, because I could talk about it all day, but very, very similar to mark, started in college, ran and sold a laundry and dry cleaning delivery business in college. Thought I was done with the industry. But I think like a lot of people you get drawn back in and you want to figure it out and see if you can do it bigger and better than you did it before. Hated the existing models that were out there. Yes, a wash, you ran a bunch of kind of West Coast or Silicon Valley backed startups and thought, I don’t think the model is right. And I’m gonna hate myself. I turned 3040 50 And don’t go after it. And so at that point, our story becomes very similar to Marx, we thought let’s start with just pickup and delivery work that I’m actually looking out the window at our office and see the the first Laundromat we brought Volume Two and similar to mark, they loved it. At first they laughed us out the door and they said, Yeah, you guys bring us 1000 pounds a week, we’ll give you a 40% discount, and you kind of snickered about it like they’re never gonna hit a couple 1000 pounds a week, and we hit 2000 pounds a week, I think a month in I mean, we just were bringing them tons of volume right out of the gate. They renegotiated the contract four months in and that that started the revolving door of Laundromat operators that think wanted the volume but eventually realized managing 10 to 15 employees is hard and I don’t really want to do that. And again, similar to mark realized me to own our own stores, ended up building a couple of stores that worked incredibly well then hit the next crossroads of what we need to build 100 of these are not cheap to build. And they’re not. They’re cheaper to buy, but still not not inexpensive. And so you know, if we got to get 100 plus of these open, who’s given us $100 million to go do it. And franchising became a viable path to get there, we get to handpick the operator, we get to make sure they have industry or relevant experience and operational experience. They’ve got the liquidity and the capital to do it. And so we get to work with these awesome franchise partners that we’re bringing into the industry that have good backgrounds and good experience and love the volume. They’re saying Bring it on, bring seven more vans if you can. So they have the right attitude out of the gate for us. And so, stumbled into franchising. Never thought we’d be here six, seven years ago, and we started this but I’ve sold 108 licenses have nine stores opened with 13 more stores opening this year and you know, headed in the direction of trying to build a national brand in the in the in the space.
Yeah, that’s pretty. I mean, you shouldn’t just ask me for the 100 million I mean, if you want
to go franchise, we go in South of France and stuff. That’s right.
I’m taking off in like a week and a half and I’m getting scared about it. Gotta Iron Man. I’m doing down there too. So yeah, dude. Okay, awesome. You know, it’s kind of funny. That to have you guys here. Alex, where do you Where are you located
in Charlotte, North Carolina.
And mark where are you at?
Yeah, so Okay, you guys are coming from two very different places. You’ve got two very different things going on two very different kind of roles you guys have played in the industry here and in your own businesses, and haven’t you both on on this podcast and it’s it’s kind of fun to do something like this because, you know, obviously, you know, we got to talk about why that is here in a second. But it’s fun to have you guys here because you guys are both so experienced and so accomplished in what you guys have done. And to have you guys both on and be able to just kind of share a little bit of about your experience and a little bit about your wisdom. And then we can kind of talk about, you know why you guys are both on here together. But real quick, I just, you know, I want to get into, you know why you’re actually here in a second. But real quick before we do that, can you give us one big piece of advice each on how you have achieved the success? Not even necessarily how, how somebody else can achieve it. But what what if you had to attribute one, maybe two things to your success? I put you on the spot here. I didn’t even I didn’t. So I’m trying to talk a long time right now. So you guys can think of something. But if you had to attribute your success to one, maybe two things, just for you, personally, in your business and your business model? Can you pin it down to something like that? Either one of you guys?
Yeah, I think I’ll give two I know that the question was one, but the first is pretty simple. Yeah, thank you. The first is pretty simple is don’t quit, like don’t quit, just keep going. Just put your head down and keep going. It’s, it’s not the most sound business advice, but it’s what got us through everything. And we still use it today, among me and my partners, and all of our employees. So I think that’s, that’s a pretty simple way to start. Second would be, one thing that’s really helped me is to document everything. The E Myth, entrepreneur book was huge. For me, it’s led to us documenting all of our processes, the only way we can delegate to the only way we can grow. And it’s a trap I see a lot of Laundromat owners fall into is that they take the small and the small business too much to art, and they just treat it like a kind of a boutique hobby. But it needs the infrastructure and the documentation and the SOPs to grow like a real business.
Yeah, that’s, I think that’s really good. Because the, you know, the SOP, standard operating procedures, document, everything like that is not my strength at all. And so I recently hired an assistant and one of her jobs, and she’s so good at it, I didn’t even know how to kind of wrap my head around it. And she’s already working on those suckers and getting those down just for my businesses that I have here, which is, you know, and and I can just see how, you know, even just for my own, because a lot of that stuff for me, like lives in my own head, I think for a lot of like, you know, small business owners, you own one, two laundromats or one two businesses or whatever, you can kind of keep a lot of that stuff up in your head, once you’re trying to shift. And that’s what the E Myth is all about. Right? And I’ll link to that book. If you haven’t read it. It’s a it’s a must read business book, in my opinion. But that book is all about turning from, you know, keeping your business as a job and turning it into a business and how you do that right now standing operating procedures are part of that so that you can get the stuff in your head down on paper so that other people can start doing those things, you can focus on the things that are more important, which I know you have made that transition. That’s a hard transition to make. But I know you’ve made that you have good operators in there doing that stuff for you now. Yeah, we
should you should see we get inbound customer support inquiries from other Laundromat owners and there’s there’s a ton of your franchise, do you do coaching? Where can I learn about this? And that just a quick reply that lists all the sources that you’re firmly planted on that list. So I appreciate that. Certainly a good way to show off how SLPs can get every little tiny question can be as detailed as we want.
Yeah, yeah. It’s pretty awesome. All right, Alex, Mark gave you a lot of what do you got?
Pretty much first one’s identical. Don’t worry. It’s persistence, is it’s up in one word. I can’t remember the Steve Jobs or what you know, some aspirational you a person who is a wildly successful entrepreneur has this quote about being a cockroach. And I think the the message behind it is just like survive everything survive anything, like be a cockroach, don’t give up Forget trying to be a unicorn like it’s going to get through anything possible, and it will work out. Because I think through the adversity you face the challenges you face each become stronger and better for it. And you’re already going to be multiple steps ahead of anyone else. Because a lot of people do just quit after the first No, or the first challenge or the second now or the second challenge. But it takes I think, someone with a lot of tenacity and grit and again, just the willingness to persevere to make it far in anything whether that’s laundry music, XYZ widget, you got to be persistent. And then the second piece I think, would be curiosity. I think a lot of people get pretty stubborn and think they’ve got all the answers they know exactly. They’ve got this plan in their head of how they’re gonna get from point A to point be, and then you know, God laughs or someone laughs and your whole plan goes to shit. And those people are left trying to figure out well, how do I make it work? How do I force work versus being curious and saying what went wrong? What did I get wrong? And having the humility to again, go ask other people that have done it better for help or take parts of another business model and adapted to their own and so Dan and I from the beginning have just been sponges we’ll go ask as many people as we can that are that have done what we’re doing before similar components of it like franchising. For example. We knew not Thinking about within a month we’re talking to the guy that started 24 Hour Fitness, the family that started Sports Clips, and they got it started great, great clips, and they’re just all given us an hour of their time, and that our price saved us years of mistakes or 10s of 1000s of dollars and issues. Just because we had one humility to know what we don’t know. And then the curiosity to go ask for help. Out of
curiosity, how did you get in con? Applying it right now, what do I talk about? You got to apply the things? Here I am. How did you how did you connect up with these franchise owners in order to get that our that saved?
The first one, the persistence, so we’d find them on LinkedIn, we’d find someone who knew someone who knew them, we’d set our eyes on this target, we’re like, this person knows what we need, what we need to know. And then we would just hit from every angle, we’d cold message them on LinkedIn with a really thoughtful message about, hey, we’re just getting started, we’d love 30 minutes of your time we’re trying to learn from you. And then at the same time, that person was probably getting inbound emails from some second or third connection reaching out to them. So they’re hearing about us three, four or five different places. And in their head, they’re like, you know, this is serendipity. Or these guys really need to talk to me, and I love that hustle. And I’ll give them 30 minutes, just because they took the approach of bugging me from every angle they possibly could come up with. That’s huge.
And you know, that’s I mean, that’s a great lesson for for all of us, right is, you know, if you’re seeing somebody who you need to connect with in order to help you propel you to the next level, whatever that is buying your first Laundromat scaling your Laundromat scaling your pickup and delivery, whatever that might be. That that grit, that persistence, and grit. I think Angela Duckworth, I think she wrote that. I hope that’s right, because that’s going to be embarrassing. But that’s a great book. I’ll link that one too. It’s a great book, you know, what talks about, you know, how did you develop that grit? And that just the fact that both of you guys basically mentioned that, and said that as a key to your success? I mean, I think it speaks volumes. I mean, I’ve heard tons of other successful people say exactly that, too, right speaks volumes to that grit. And you know, what, when you have that grit, you know, you’re not going to quit, you’re in it for the long haul, you’re in it for the long game, then you can start layering on the other things like the standard operating procedures and all the systems and all that stuff and layering on that the curiosity and the desire to learn and grow and to continue to do that and all those things right. And, you know, when you know you have the time because you’re just not going to quit no matter what, what there’s a saying it’s like you overestimate what you can do in a year but you underestimate what you can do in 10 right when you have that time sky’s the limit for you right you can get just about anywhere you want to get so of that of that awesome okay, so all right So Mark, you came into this industry by starting a pickup and delivery business without a Laundromat by the way i You’re also on my SOPs or for a lot of people over a year what Yeah, I
was gonna say you refer some persistent people to persistent I get back to them. I’m usually seven to 10 business days so you might want to add that to your referral link but I do get back
yeah yeah, actually, you know just don’t apply that to any of us but apply it you know apply to like Dave men’s and you know just be persistent all the all the other people out there just keep bugging them. No, yeah. So you’re but you’re coming in that way right coming in through starting to pick them delivery without a Laundromat. And then you’ve kind of grown into owning, behemoth laundromats and a behemoth pickup and delivery business and Alex you kind of came in I know through start or did you you bought the pickup and delivery in college? Or?
We bought ran it sold it done with the two you laundry we started from scratch in Charlotte,
right? Yeah. So you started in college and bought that business and then sold it and then started to you and laundry lab. Speaking of which, check this out. Am I’m rocking my laundry shirt right now just to represent here. Yeah, this is this is good. If you’re on the audio podcast, I’m wearing a laundry lab shirt. That’s what they’re checking out. Yeah, so so totally different kind of starts into this business and different pathways. But let’s talk about like your Pathways intersected here and really intersected here recently, which we’ll talk about but can we talk about sort of the beginnings of this intersection and where it has led to for you to
Yeah, Mark you want to share I know Dan Daly definitely talk to you so I actually don’t have as much context as Marquez
Sure yeah. I think the big like the macro trend here is that how popular delivery guy right I think when we both started delivery was like new and novel and like you were lucky to get a couple customers maybe there was one or two people in town offering delivery. Now most laundromats are offering that so it was certainly a big macro trend in the industry like nailed Right Place Right Time. But yeah, late, early on, because there were so few people offering it. Dan Alex’s business partner actually reached out to us as someone offering delivery looked, you know, moderately respectable from afar from the social media profiles. Reached out. We talked about how we can work together, what can we do? And I think we, both sides had to look each other look, look in the mirror and realize like, we are broke, we are barely surviving day to day, there’s like six and a half days of runway left, and I’m doing all the laundry myself. So we tabled that. But both kind of simultaneously rode the delivery wave. I think that was one thing both companies got right is they had a hunch early on, they stuck to it. And they kept going to kind of write that way. For us. There’s a lot of people who’ve tried to fight it and are, you know, just now having a realization there’s like, Oh, crap, I need to offer delivery. I’m toast.
Yeah. So your your discussions? With Alex’s partner Dan started, that was like three years ago, you said?
Oh, at least we were babies. Yeah,
I was probably fourth didn’t have a beard yet. Yeah.
Yeah. And a lot more hair too. That’s what delivery does to you.
All right. What would you rather have hair or your pickup and delivery business?
Oh, I’ll take the business. I’ll take it.
Yeah, get rid of that hair. You don’t need it. You got enough on your face? You’re golden. Speaking of which should be glad. Both Alex and I should be glad we’re not doing a beard poll right now. Because although all three of us, I think have pretty strong beards. It’d be it’d be tough to compete. Right now. It’s looking pretty good. I’ll take that. I’ll take that I can pretty good. Yeah. Okay, so that was like, three, five years ago, something like that. So what about when did pas kind of come back together? You mentioned I think, before we hit the record button that you guys were like, sort of junior highers trying to figure out if you should, or something and figuring out either one of you had a car. Yeah. That was pretty funny. So So when did you get into high school and get your licenses? How did this happen?
Mark and I both joined the board of the CLA around the same time, as you know, just I think young, hungry, love the industry and want to see some positive change in thought there. Can we go join that group and see if we can’t impact some of that change? And I think through him and I kind of commiserating through that experience of joining the board, like honestly, this is a mountain to climb to try to help and fix things, start to rekindle some of that conversation of like, is there a world where we could somehow work together someday? And what does that look like? Do we, you know, combined forces do we just keep in touch or what and I think really started kicking things off in in January this past year. And Mark will blame it on our lawyers, but six months laters, six months later led to us making the decision to make that official and join partners to you acquire the fold and marks coming on to join the team. And we’re going to be I think more powerful and ready than ever to take on the task like we both started out to do and that’s the build that national brand to make delivery a household. You know, saying just like having someone come cut your grass, or hiring a babysitter to watch your kids, why not get rid of laundry, it’s the most hated household chore in the country. And I think what the two of us combined with the teams that we have, and what we’ve built, are probably the best suited to go to go and make it happen and make it a reality. So that’s the announcement, that’s the big exciting thing to share is the fold and two, you are partnering up and taken on laundry pickup and delivery nationwide.
This is insanity. I mean, seriously huge and insane. Because, you know, let’s just let’s just put aside for a second year, the fact that I have been saying for a long time, that I think a lot of this stuff is going to consolidate. But now sort of the the framework and the sort of the foundation of that happening here is is starting to be laid here. And you know, I think the fold, I mean if it’s not the most recognized pickup and delivery brand, then it’s it’s gotta be up there because I can’t even think of any other ones that I would say are are on par with the fold and things that you guys have done with the pickup and delivery side of things is pretty incredible. So number one, you know congratulations to both you guys. That’s a huge huge kind of merger acquisition there and so congrats huge congrats to you guys for that. And number two, man what a good good partnership and you know, in case you didn’t listen to Alex’s previous episode number one go back and listen to I’m going to link all of the episodes they’ve been on to case you want to go back and check them out because both have incredible episodes. But Alex, can you give a quick rundown so you’re in the franchise model so can you talk about how that works with pickup delivery especially now that you’ve acquired Yeah, so
we can similar to Mark’s story we were pure pickup and delivery outsource it all realized crap we got to vertically integrate started building stores, where we would layer the pickup and delivery on top of our laundromats very similar to what Mark has with, you know, the fold and his stores in Austin and Houston. And then franchising really came out of COVID where we, you know, we were doing it all corporately, we’re going city by city and it was just pure trench warfare. It was, you know, blocking and tackling like you wouldn’t believe in one city after a time and one neighborhood at a time. And so franchising came is kind of another means to an end of, you know, we can provide a really good package to franchise partners, significant discounts in equipment and materials across the board with various vendors, we can leverage all the technology we’ve built to provide value to those franchisees, but the big kicker, or one of the biggest kickers was we can also provide additional revenue through pickup and delivery, we’ve got the model figured out, we’ve got really good economics, we know how to market to customers and acquire them on the pickup and delivery side, again, very similar to what Mark and his team have built the fold. But then layer that on top of franchisees, and now they’ve got revenue, but we’ve got distribution, we can work with the franchise partners to make sure that they’re cleaning it the right way, high levels of quality, they’re staffed appropriately, they’ve got the best technology to keep track of everything and, and do it efficiently. And so when I look at the fold, and what Mark’s doing is very similar to what we’ve done with to you, and it’s going to allow us to take all the knowledge that we’ve gained in our collective him, just him and I attend 15 years, but the rest of our team, it has been a lot of people focusing on this and going to bed thinking about it waking up thinking about it, that we can take that knowledge, put it together, and layer that on top of our franchisees. So that’s the way the model works. If you’re a laundry lab franchise, you’ll run a typical for wall operation, retail Laundromat, who you will then go acquire customers and then bring that volume to your store, we manage the vehicles, we manage the delivery, we manage customer support, we manage the marketing, all you got to do is the franchise partners, check those bags and wash them dry, fold them, it’s hard, I’m making a sound easier said than done. But we’re taking a lot of that headache away from the franchise partner, we’re sharing it as true partners with our franchisees.
Yeah, pretty awesome. And I think that that is, you know, and we talked about this on our episode, when one of my questions about franchising is like, Okay, where’s the value in the franchise? Right? That’s kind of been my long standing question to that. And what I love about the way that you set things up is that they’re, you know, obviously, there’s a lot of value in you helping kind of set up the store, build out the store, and the relationships you’ve built in order to have some efficiencies in that. And all of that, but also kind of layered on top of that is there’s built in, essentially, you have a built in drop off service, right? Because Because you guys are running the pickup and delivery side of things and just dropping it off. So you have a built in drop off service from the get go, which is pretty awesome. Because that is easier said than done in terms of building that out from scratch. And so you know, when you can buy a franchise, and not only benefit from the build out that you guys do, and all the kind of collective wisdom and everything from what you guys are doing, but also can have a built in drop off service, you know, from the get go, that’s pretty good value. And in, in my mind makes it make much more sense to go the franchise route than just somebody buying a brand new software,
something that Mark and I and Dan and the rest of our team are incredibly excited about. And it’s kind of scary, but exciting at the same time to think about is there’s so many regional and national, other franchise concepts or Airbnb providers or micro hotels and these big brands that have a huge laundry need, but they don’t want to deal with, you know, going market by market trying to negotiate a rate and so they’ve already started approaching us and saying, Hey, we can go to you to service Phoenix, Austin, Houston, Dallas, Charlotte, etc. And your, you know, one one account for us to handle all of our laundry needs and all those markets. And we haven’t even really tapped into that fully yet. I mean, Marc’s been helping out with it on the side as we were working through getting the deal done. But now that, you know, it’s done in behind us, I think we’re already kind of be dog dogs off the leash and go get as many of those big national regional commercial accounts as possible.
Yeah, that’s pretty. That’s pretty awesome. I like that. Okay, so Well, can we can we take it back? So we’ve kind of danced around this, but just real quick, Alex, can you talk about? You talked about the why, like, what’s the why why did you want to purchase a sort of pickup and delivery company or what was the why behind that? And then why specifically the fold. Did you end up purchasing?
Yeah, so I think I mean, when Dan reached out a few years ago, I mean, we were just looking for other people that were like minded and believed in this as big as we believed in it. And honestly, the probably one of one or only often out there was Mark and his team and what they were doing, there’s a few others out there but that really I think resonated with how we thought about things were them. And then the second time around, we were looking at it like a K, we’ve just raised as big series B, we weren’t trying to scratch an itch by by any means. But we’ve always stayed relatively close to who was out there. And what were people doing. And mark in the fall just kept coming back is this, they they’re very similar to us, it only makes us, you know, bolsters us makes us stronger, more credible. And so the why, in a lot of ways, and I don’t want to stroke Mark’s ego too much, but was him as an individual. I mean, he’s a phenomenal operator, you’ve, it’s the beard, right? I mean, you’ve seen how organized he is, and how capable I mean, how much he can do with leverage and creating automation and tools and resources and documentation. And yeah, has maintained that that incredibly high caliber of ability to deliver on things throughout from the beginning. And so when him and I started talking on the board, I mean, that was a big reason was you mark would be awesome, just to get to work to work with him, the visit they built is big. And I think that fits the second reason why it was just more leveraging credibility within the industry. I think a lot of times there’s, you know, the independent operator that is trying to figure it out, but they don’t have a ton of resources, or they don’t have a ton of leverage with different vendors, whether that’s equipment or supplies, or you name it even within the local municipality. And we looked at it as the bigger we get, the more leverage we have, and the more that we can do for the industry and, quote, unquote, the little guy, the independent owner, and hopefully, we can lay some of that trail and, and make things a little bit more equal. In that sense, the bigger that we get. So leverage was another one. And then lastly, for us, multi city, multi state operations, if our franchisees are gonna have to do that at some point, many of them are buying four or five locations, who are we to give them advice if we haven’t done it ourselves. And so this gives us an opportunity to say, hey, we’ve got stores in North Carolina stores in Texas. And here’s the operational playbook on how to adequately manage them, whether you’re remote or in the market, doing it.
Awesome, awesome. So you guys are building out a playbook for those franchisees to just operate. I mean, Ark already kind of mentioned it right, building out the SOPs, and all the systems and the automations. And everything, obviously, is a core value, you know, to you, and probably a good good pickup on your part, Alex to another, you know, check mark in marks, little profile there, in terms of acquisition, because, you know, I mean, and that’s, that’s another sort of, you know, one of the question I get asked a lot of is, you know, how do I how do I automate this as much as possible? And how is it possible to run it, you know, a couple hours away, you know, all those, all those questions. And so having that capability of having a playbook saying, Look, we’re in multiple places, here’s, here’s how you do it. Here’s the equipment you need, here are the tools you need here, the systems you need to follow. Here’s how to train your employees, all of that stuff that you guys have already developed in kind of a business in a box right there. It’s pretty cool. Well, let me flip that question over to the other side. Cuz, Mark, I mean, you got a pretty good thing going with your pickup and delivery. And you know, you got a lot of I mean, you’re, you know, hanging out with Cody Sanchez, and you got a lot of cool stuff going on over there. So you know, aside from the hair, which is the obvious probably main reason that you wanted to partner with Alex because his hair is looking just let’s just admit it. Your beard and his hair are like on
that’s the real merger here.
We could put that into one person. Oh, my gosh. Maybe I’ll Photoshop for you guys. Yeah,
there’s there’s the there’s the cover photo.
No, but what how, what caused you to be interested in this deal? And then this partnership here?
Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the things we really liked about the team at T laundries they were they had a plan to scale this while keeping delivery in laundromats. I think as delivery keeps growing, right, we said how much it grew in last five years, I think it’s going to continue at that pace. I think there’s a real threat for consolidation, these peer to peer models are popping up. Private commercial facilities are going to be popping up. So we wanted to continue to scale this and we wanted to keep it in Laundromat. So there’s a huge, huge plus on their model. Anecdotally, the software is bad to the bone man, we’ve, you reach a certain point where you really need high levels of automation and customization. They’ve got a whole product and tech team that’s on top of it. And then the bootstrap nature of our business, we don’t have HR, right. We don’t have product, we don’t have tech, we don’t have marketing. We’ve got me and a couple of virtual assistants. So the back office infrastructure that that to you has is really impressive. I think it complements as well if we can stay focused on operating and just delivering service and growing. letting their back office handle the rest is is super helpful for us and it’s a big part of the attraction. So I guess to summarize, I think they nailed the model. They’ve got an impressive franchise operation with impressive franchise operators that keeps laundry delivery in laundromats and then just the team they scale the team like crazy, they’ve got a department and a person for everything, which was totally new for us and totally exciting, you can really, really see how you can grow into this and actually become a national brand with the infrastructure he’s built.
Yeah, that’s pretty cool. You know, and everybody wants to kind of be a part of something bigger and something that’s growing and making a big difference. Right. So I think that’s pretty awesome. Well,
that was the sorry, yeah, that was kind of our predicament, and Alex hit on it earlier is like, Alright, cool. Did it once cool, did it twice, like, we’re just gonna keep doing this slowly and steadily until we’re 100 years old. And so that ability to scale fast and to scale nationally, is huge. Everybody at our team, when when we sent the announcement out, I’m talking to everybody from my partners to the the laundry folder that just got hired last week, right? Like, everybody’s like, hey, change your plans. This thing’s going national now. Like, buckle up. And so we’re really excited about that.
That’s pretty cool. That is pretty cool. Getting a little. So let me change. Let me change that. Not. So. Okay. So Alex, you, you acquired the fold? And are you? Are you given mark? What’s the what’s the deal? Here? Are you? Is he coming on board? Number one, the
reason that I mentioned was getting getting to work with Mark and having him come on. I mean, he’s you guys have heard him for many listeners have probably heard him talk at different, you know, industry events, or have heard of what they’re doing. And I’m no different. I’m a I’m a fan girl too, and excited to have him come Come join the team and be a part of what we’re building, I think it only adds, you know, tremendously to to our team and our ability, he’s got something that I think we’ve lost like a year or so ago. And that’s that ability to be incredibly scrappy, thoughtful, because when you when you’re down, I used to say constraint equals creativity. He mentioned he’s been constrained on the, you know, the size of his team, the resources, and I’m excited for some of that mentality to come in, you know, for him to think that way, but also have the resources if he needs to go after some moon shots or to go after and be more aggressive about things. So marks come in, coming on and joining the team. And, you know, as long as as far as I can tell, I think he’s sticking it out with us until we figure this thing out on a major, major scale.
Yeah, there’s still a lot of Laundromat owners that told me know five years ago that I’m gonna get the last laugh on when this thing is in 50 states and we’re, you know, launching an IPO we got a long way to go, I’m not going anywhere. They they were sharks negotiating my vacation time at the deal. So I we closed the deal. I had a beer, and I went back to work the next day. So I’m not going anywhere. We’re going to Biloxi, Mississippi,
There at ICICI, I’ll meet you sippy Come on. I love that.
But on the tactical side, so I’m not going anywhere. But on the tactical side, like overtime, there are two brands, there are two softwares, there are two SOPs, there’s going to be a lot of testing side by side, see what works best. The fold is not a logo front, the fold is the workhorse mentality and the right way to do laundry. So while the logo might disappear over time, and the pink bags will get brought in, and the navy blue bags will disappear. I think a lot of what we built is the X’s and O’s in the process. And I think a lot of those are going to stay we’re going to compare them side by side, we’re going to see what works best see how we can complement each other and really find one playbook for the path forward.
Yeah, and that I mean, that is a that’s a chore, right? That’s a bringing two organizations together, both of whom are finding a lot of success. And I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of overlap, right. But you know, trying to whittle that down to the best model going forward that mean that that’s going to take some that’s gonna take some work, and especially the aspirations of you know, taking this thing national, and maybe an IPO and you know, all that stuff. So that’s, that’s a task. So what’s your, you may not have this nailed out? I don’t know. But Mark, what’s your, what’s your role? Kind of going forward? What are you going to be focusing on? You know, yeah,
that’s funny, actually. So we took care of everybody else, there’s like, the plus employees took care of everyone else, I think I was the last one to get a job offer. And I didn’t really know what we were doing. I was testing the process, I’ll be in the Operations Department working closely. A lot of my job for the next six to 12 months is integrating the two companies. They’re, they’re both big companies with their set ways of doing things. And, you know, they’re they’re still startups so there’s a lot of duct tape everywhere figuring out where the duct tape is and what works best and how to connect them. So all fall under operations, they got a badass CEO there Dave, who I’ll work with closely, but a big part of the next you know, foreseeable future for me is integrating into companies and figuring out what that best playbook is.
I think I’ll add you to me like like you guys are both called out like the next nine months probably is going to be all integration. I mean, I think the best way for all of us to learn each other’s to stay close to in some way it’s going to be very close to the to integrating but I keep going back to how just effective and awesome mark is that just kind of problem solving and I see In the future, kind of more coming to this Chief of Staff type of role to where he can bounce around and touch every part of the business because he’s again, he’s too effective and good at what he does to not be in a position to be able to impact and affect that kind of change.
I’m, uh, I’m going wherever the corporate card takes me, Jordan, I finally have a I finally for the first time on my life, I have a corporate card that I’m not personally guarantee.
Don’t you feel like though, that that corporate card should take you and hit the Bahamas or something?
Yeah, there’s gotta be something. There’s got to be some session or. Right, right. Yeah, well, we figure out where we will be very persistent is
important here. You know what I mean? It’s important. So yeah. Yeah. That’s all that’s dangerous. I don’t know. I feel like this is like a situation where you give your like, 14 year old card, you know, for the first time you’re like, I got an
on and off button on this phone right here.
Yeah, you better be quick with your thumb hovered over that thing, because it doesn’t take very long to make a bunch of charges on it.
No, it’s easy to joke about I’m, I’m so used to being bootstrapped. Like, I think it’s gonna be quite the opposite. They’re gonna have to shake me and be like, Hey, it’s okay. It’s okay to spend, you know, spend $20. Right?
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah, are you? I mean, are you taking any trips out to Charlotte? Are you going to Austin at all? What’s the yeah, there’s
been a bunch of back and forth. This thing’s been going on since I mean, since the wash trifold event more or less last year when it turned from an idea to kind of us both saying it out loud. But yeah, a couple of trips to Charlotte, a couple trips Austin, and then you know, it’s, it’s much more of a team than just me and him. So a lot of this is getting the team’s back and forth. Right. I’ve spent weeks in Austin with all sorts of people from his team. And we’re going to be bringing my team up to Charlotte here. Any week now. So yeah, we kind of did the first visits one on one. But now it’s about getting all of the staff and all the team kind of combined and met up with each other in the different cities.
You guys both gonna stay put in your areas, Charlotte, and in Austin ish area.
Yeah, there’s so much laundry to do here. Let me talk about two rapidly growing cities, but beautiful cities to live in. Yeah, no, no plans on that. Luckily, we’re both quite good at scaling remotely. So I’d imagine there’s a lot more travel in it for me than I’m historically used to with the fold. But yeah, no plans on relocating. COVID
kind of accelerated guard kind of mentality is like, find the best find the absolute best people and make it work. And if they’re in Seattle or Austin, it’s I think it’s the way that our world is now and we’ve got a big chunk of our team here in Charlotte. But we’ve got people all over the place.
Yeah, yeah. Pretty awesome. All right. We’ve talked about what’s I mean, dude, this is so cool. Like I’m, I’m I’m so I’m just so pumped about this. Because, you know, obviously, I like both you guys individually, as, as people, I have a lot of respect for what both of you guys have done. And to hear that you guys are kind of coming together trying to make some, this is a big play, man, I mean, this, if we’re just gonna lay it out and say, this is a big play. And this is very ambitious, and you guys are putting yourselves out there. And in trying to do this for an industry that hasn’t really made too many big plays in a really long time. So I am very excited for both you guys. And for the industry to see kind of how this plays out and what goes down with, you know, with laundry lab and to you laundry and having to, you know, rockstars in this industry working together trying to build something significant, you know, for, for the industry. And real quick, I feel like I’m doing a lot of talking but I I’m like very excited, because I know both of you guys, and even just the way you’ve been describing it today, you guys are very pro owner. And that is that that’s the core of me, and almost every complaint I have about this industry, and I’ve got a few has to do with you know, not being there for the independent owner operator. Right. And so what I love about what you guys are doing is that you guys are pro owner here and you know, obviously, you know, you have a franchise model and that’s your primary customer but I think also what you’re doing also benefits individual owners and operators just kind of in general by by building something with a core value, you know, something big that has a core value that is pro owner and I feel like there’s not a lot of pro owner things out there for us right now. So I’m very excited on all fronts for that.
I’m 100% Pro owner except for those couple banana heads. Not I’m not proud of them for anything, but ya know, it’s it’s important like that. I mean, if I could flip the question on you it’s like demand for deliveries clearly here to stay on. Maybe Some people think it’s still a COVID phenomenon? How is that demand gonna get fit? Like, if you had the forecast five years out? Is it a series of fragmented mom and pops? Is it? Is it a peer to peer model? Is it a large license model under one brand? Like, there’s a couple of different plays here? And I, you know, most of the time, that’s what we’re thinking about and trying to figure out, it’s like, how is this demand gonna get filled? And I think we saw this model and really think this is our shot to go capture it. But they’re the demand is coming in, and it’s like, you know, who’s gonna, who’s gonna do this? On a national scale?
Yeah. And the one thing I would disagree with you that you said earlier, is you said, you know, pickup and delivery has been growing pretty rapidly, and you think it’s going to continue to grow at the same pace. And I actually think it’s going to grow quicker, right, I think there’s a little so I’m not really disagreeing with you. But I think there’s a little bit of a hockey stick thing that’s going to happen once there’s, you know, a core of of business that’s there. And I think, then it’s a short line to it becoming everywhere ubiquitous, it’s going to be all over the place. Once it once it gets enough steam kind of roll in, and we’re still sort of pushing that pushing that boulder uphill a little bit, there’s still education that needs to happen to get more people aware that this is even a possibility. And that it makes sense. And, you know, for people to realize I don’t have to spend my Saturday doing laundry or whatever, right, like, but I think once that ball gets to a certain point, then it starts rolling downhill, and it starts picking up steam pretty quickly. And I think you’re right, and I do think that there’s, you know, there’s still going to be room for independent owner operators to be able to do pickup and delivery service out of their laundromats. But I’ve been saying for a really long time, I think that this business is going to consolidate to one, maybe two, maybe three major players nationally, and I haven’t really seen anybody else making a play for that. And so to see you guys kind of, you know, by your powers combined, you know, coming together and and trying to put that together. I love that. And it’s putting it in the hands of independent owner and operators, right people who are are in the Laundromat franchise system who own you know, Laundromat franchises, so I I love that. And I think you’re right, I think the demand is going to be there gotta be filled in the timing is right now for two I think
I agree that’s gonna be the rest in line and he’s rates to cool down a little bit and costs and things to cool down. But other than that, all the other pieces are there.
And now Yeah, well, that is that is an interesting wrinkle that you know, all all business owners, and just people in general, and you’re just dealing with, you know, with the high interest rates right now and trying to figure out, especially business wise, like trying to figure out how to make that all work with, you know, building out laundromats, right, like, every all, every piece of like what you guys are trying to do requires funding. Right. And so that is an interesting puzzle piece right now. So it’ll be it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. But if that can kind of cooperate with you a little bit, it doesn’t need to doesn’t need to, like cooperate a little bit like, there’s a little bit cooperating right now. Right? Right. To make things easier. But dude, guys, this is super exciting. You know, put yourselves, you know, to kind of close this thing out, put yourselves five years down the line from now, where do you see this thing? Being in just a mere five years?
I think laundry?
I’ll think that.
Okay, I think I think delivery is going to be so common that my mom and her friends are all going to know about right? I won’t give us store count. I won’t give a precise number of cities. But I think the customer demand is going to go grow so fast that everybody is aware of this. And we’re ready to be there with the infrastructure built to fill that demand.
Yeah, but I’ll take you back with the specific store numbers and where we, where we want to be but I think that I think the man I mean, we our goal is get to in the next five years, like two to 300 stores open 80 to 90% of those stores producing pickup and delivery volume. There’s gonna be some markets that I think it’s slower to get to or they’re smaller, there’s less demand. So we might not focus there first, but I think it’s feasible in the realm of possibility to get to 200 plus stores open to fill all that demand that Marc’s talking about.
That’s pretty insane. That’s pretty insane. And pretty awesome. I wrote down, I wrote down that pickup and delivery be so common. Like that quote, I am so pumped for you guys again, congratulations for you know, getting that deal solidified and hitting the ground running, you know, drinking your beer and then showing up to work the next day getting right after it. And what I’m hearing too from both of you guys is that this is not like it A okay, we made this you know this acquisition and now we’re just gonna let it roll this is a, you’re using it almost as a jumping off point to like, Okay, now we’re really start to ramp this thing up. And you know to try to open 200 stores in the next few years is ambitious, you know, to, you know, to try to get to a level where your nationally known pickup and delivery brand is ambitious and you know I I just cannot be more excited for you guys because of what you guys are building and also for you guys for being able to do it together and could not be more jealous that I am over here on the West Coast having to watch this like through the window, like on a zoo, seeing all the cool stuff, but super excited for you guys. Nonetheless,
yeah. And what you build is really impressive. There’s a there’s a reason that when this thing went through Alex and I knew exactly where we were going to announce it, right. Like, this is where I consume my, you know, Laundromat podcast. This is where I stay up to date with who’s doing what it was movers and shakers are. So super impressive what you’ve built. And I’ll date myself that I remember early on when it wasn’t all fancy. And there weren’t there Hulu on here every week. So it’s cool to see what you’ve done. Thanks for having us.
Appreciate you saying that. And Alright, so if somebody wants to get in contact with you, maybe they want to learn more about Laundromat franchising, or they want to hear what hair products you wear, or beard balm, what’s the best way people can get in contact with you?
Yep, yeah, so for laundry lab, if you’re interested in exploring Laundromat franchises, you can head over to laundry lab.com That’s L A u n d e r o, la b.com. Or you can reach out to me directly at Alex at to you laundry.com That’s the number two, the letter U and then laundry.com.
Awesome. And I’ll have the links and email address and everything, all the contact information. It’s only what it is because of guys like you coming on sharing your experience sharing your wisdom, sharing your stories. And, and I appreciate you guys, obviously everybody else who’s been on the podcast. And I mean, obviously we’re gonna be doing more episodes together down the line, because I want to go east if nobody else does, I want to know how things are going. And you know how much money Mark has spent on that. And we need our numbers next,
we’re gonna die.
It’s great. And, hey, if you guys are interested in hearing more about this, you know this acquisition and what the plans are kind of going forward. Or if you want to learn more about Laundromat franchising, or if you want to just learn some pickup and delivery, I think these guys are going to join us on like, q&a, we’ll do it live. And you’ll get to see the beard and the hair together. And you guys get to chat with them and ask them questions in person. So join us for that you can get a link to that down in the description of on YouTube or in the show notes. And guys, you guys are awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show to drop this awesome bomb on us that you guys have joined forces join powers and are going to start running amok in this industry and doing some big things. So thanks for coming.
Thanks for having us.
All right, huge announcement. I think it’s very cool. What’s happening right now. And I think when good people get together to do big things, or big things happen and they are definitely movers and shakers. So huge thanks to Mark and Alex for jumping out with that here on the podcast and talking about it super cool to hear all about it and, man the don’t forget live q&a is happening on July 6, make sure you get signed up. Again shownotes, Laundromat resource.com/show 118 or if you’re on YouTube down below in the description. Alright, we’ll see you next week on the podcast. Peace