It is really quite a simple business. There is a storefront where there are a lot of washing machines that can either be started from people putting in quarters, which is typically the way it is done, or newer technology allows for people to put the money in and they get this card that has some value on it, and then they can use the card to start the various machines. Basically the way the business works is the customers come in and they wash and dry their own clothes, and from an owner's point of view, all they need to really do is maintain the store, make sure that its well-lit and all the equipments are working and nice and clean, and do some basic advertising to bring in people and let them know that they are there. And of course, collect all the money.
Coin-op laundries can generate income everywhere from losing money every month to making thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars of profit. Actually, the value of the business is based upon a multiplier of how much income is generated by that business, so most coin laundries will sell as low as say, $ 50,000 to as much as over a million. If the business is well-run and has a good set of books, because it is an all cash business, many of them will qualify for Small Business Association loans.
The best place to set up a Laundromat is where the customers are going to be, and only about 5% of homeowners use a Laundromat, and what they normally use it for, is for washing big items like rugs or bedspreads. The customer base for this business is renters, so ideally a Laundromat should be in a convenient part of town where there are renters. So, in an area of town on a major street, very close to where there are a lot of rental properties like apartment buildings, is where the store should be. An area of multi-million dollar homes is probably not going to be the right location for the target customers.
There's a number of different ways to finance a Laundromat. The first and most common one would be to ask a bank or to go through the Small Business Association, as long as the business will qualify for that. Another source would be having the seller, finance part of the purchase. With the financial market being a little tight, it's a little hard to qualify for loans, although one can still do it if with good credit, sellers are realizing that, if they wanted to sell their store, they need to be open to the possibility of carrying a note for a portion of the purchase price.
Once these things are sorted, setting up the store and hiring a staff comes next. Although a small Laundromat can be run without staff. The equipments should always be in great condition to keep the customers coming, so good maintenance of utmost importance. Once a business is set up, customers will start rolling in with proper marketing and advertizing.