This is Chapter 15 of the book ‘Investor’s Guide to Coin Laundries’, compiled in 2012 by Jay McDonald, Vice President, Distributor Sales for Alliance Laundry Systems.
An Investor’s Guide to Coin Laundries | Protecting Your Investment | Chapter 15
Alliance Laundry Systems is the largest manufacturer of commercial laundry equipment in the world and has over 50 years of experience in helping investors just like you, get started in the coin laundry market. This book is a compilation of experiences, ideas and input from hundreds of successful coin laundry owners and distributors from all over the world. Taking data and industry knowledge, it is a road map to help you succeed. At the end of it, you will have a general understanding of the industry and what it will take to operate a successful business.
A NOTE ON COIN-OPERATED LAUNDRIES IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
In Southern Africa, coin laundries are typically found in flats or townhouse complexes, caravan parks, holiday resorts and universities. Historically coin-operated activation systems have supported these laundries. However, this system is largely being replaced by our LaundryConnect Cashless Payment Gateway, which is convenient, hassle-free and the way of the future. It is easy to integrate or replace your existing coin mechanism in order to offer cashless payments or to use a card to activate machines.
Protecting Your Investment
Chapter 15 : PROTECTING YOUR INVESTMENT
Opening a coin laundry is a big investment. Even before opening your doors for the first time, it’s important to develop a plan to protect it. Everything from insurance to preventative maintenance is important to making sure your investment is safe and continues to grow.
Preventative Maintenance .
Far too often, the benefits of preventative maintenance are overlooked. To keep your laundry equipment working at an optimum level, it’s important that you keep your machines maintained. Below is a suggested preventative maintenance schedule that will help aid in keeping your equipment in tip-top shape.
It’s recommended that you inspect the rubber hoses on the back of your washers every month. Look for cracks, blisters, corroded fittings and leaks. If any of these are detected the hoses can be replaced. Should problems with the hoses go unnoticed, they could lose their structure over time. To be on the safe side, most manufacturers recommend replacing the rubber hoses every five years.
Over time, there can be a build up of debris where your water hoses are connected to your washers. This is especially true if you have water that is very hard with a high concentration of minerals like calcium and limestone. I recommend that when your machines are first installed, use a stopwatch to time how long it takes to fill each machine capacity. Then every few months, use your stopwatch to time the fill times again. Be aware that in some areas, the water pressure from the utility company may fluctuate. But if the fill times are significantly longer, that may indicate that hard water particles may be clogging the screens in your hoses. If that is the case, turn off the water, unscrew the fill hoses and clean the screens
Over time, the building foundation may settle. To prevent washers from walking on their own, rear self-leveling legs on topload washers (which are not bolted to the floor) should be reset annually. To adjust them simply tilt the washer forward onto its front legs and set it back down. The legs should automatically self-adjust.
The biggest enemy to any dryer is lint!!! Lint build-up is often the leading cause of dryer failures and can dramatically increase energy consumption. It is important to clean the lint filters per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
The type of venting duct and the length of the vent run used will determine how often it needs to be cleaned.
With your washers and dryers, we have published preventative maintenance guides that are available at no charge from your authorized product distributor.
In addition to implementing a preventative maintenance schedule for your equipment, set aside money to begin saving for equipment improvements and updates. Whether it’s for larger repairs or for buying new equipment, preplanning for these kinds of events will help protect your investment and reduce the impact to your bottom line if you have created a fund in advance.
Protecting the Building
What good is having coin laundry equipment if you don’t have a well maintained building to house it in? Customers like things kept clean and in good working order and this applies to your building inside and out. Many of the preventative maintenance techniques you employ for protecting your home are ones you would do at your coin laundry, including:
Roofing issues can creep up over time. To extend the life of your roof, make sure gutters are cleaned twice a year if applicable. Keeping the roof free from debris build up will prevent water from backing up under shingles and the creation of ice dams for those in harsher winter climates. Inspect your roof from time to time to look for any signs of weakness or potential problems down the road. It is more economical to maintain a roof compared to the cost of replacing it.
Your customers will come in all shapes, sizes and ages. To help prevent accidents from happening in your parking lot, you want to keep it in good condition. If you have an asphalt parking lot, look to do maintenance on it annually. This includes laying down a fresh layer of tar and repainting parking lines.
If you’ve opted for concrete, look for cracking and potholes. You will want to seal and fill these as quickly as possible to prevent further damage from spreading.
As glass heats up, it expands. When it cools, it contracts. As time goes by, the seal around the windows may start to crack and wear. To help prevent moisture from coming in or your heat or air from going out, inspect the windows annually. If you see that the seals are damaged, contact a local window manufacturer to have them make the repairs.
Just like in your house, before winter hits and you need to turn on your heating, have your local HVAC company come out and do an inspection on your heating unit and perform annual maintenance. Don’t forget furnace filters either. These should be changed every 90 days depending on your climate and the make and model of your heating unit. The same goes for your air conditioning. Before summer hits, have the same company come out and inspect your central air. Many of these companies offer maintenance agreements where inspections are automatically included.
So many times, people in general, will try to save on insurance. Most look at it as an “if” it happens when in reality insurance is for “when” it happens. This is one expense where more is better. This business is your investment so make sure that your coverage is adequate.
You should work with a reputable commercial insurance agent who can provide you with all of the coverage you might need including:
• Personal Liability Umbrella. This is a commercial liability policy to protect you from lawsuits. It will help pay for your defense costs, as well as any damages awarded by the courts.
• Business Operating Policy. This covers your property including the building and the machines. It gives you your first layer of liability protection. Determine if you want to be covered at replacement cost or current cash value. Equipment depreciates over time and if it needs to be replaced because of an accident, you could end up dipping into your cash reserves if you only have coverage for the cash value.
• Workmen’s Compensation. If you are going to have an attended laundry, you are going to need a workmen’s compensation policy. This is required by law in many states. Your insurance agent can help educate you on specific levels of coverage required for your business.
• Buy / Sell Agreement. If you are in business with a non-relative, a buy/sell agreement provides you with peace of mind in the unfortunate event that something would happen to you or your business partner. Basically, this is where the business takes a life insurance or similar policy out on each partner, making the other the beneficiary, leaving behind enough income to buy-out the deceased partner.
Your deductible can vary widely depending upon the amount of risk you are willing to take. Keep in mind that the higher the deductible the lower the premium. However, no matter which way you opt to go, make sure you have the amount of your deductible stashed in a savings account, ready for when you need it.
No one I have ever met truly enjoys buying insurance policies. However, for the times we have needed them, it may have made the difference between keeping the doors open or closing the store. Protecting your investment means investing in your peace of mind.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JAY McDONALD has been active in the laundry industry for over 30 years. He is the Vice President, Distributor Sales for Alliance Laundry Systems, the largest manufacturer of commercial laundry equipment in the world. He also served on the board of directors for the Coin Laundry Association and received the Distinguished Service Award “in appreciation of his leadership in furthering the welfare and best interests of the coin laundry industry” in 2009.
SA’s FIRST COMPLETE CASHLESS PAYMENT SOLUTION
Laundry Connect offers an affordable and adaptable payment gateway that is fast becoming the system of choice. It is easy to integrate or replace your existing coin mechanism in order to offer cashless payments or to use a card to activate machines.