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Stirkatime: How to Create a Mobile Laundromat Network


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You live in a school dormitory, which means that you need to wash your things yourself. You may need to do this for the first time. Even if you have previously washed clothes at home, there are several differences: you did not have to bother with paid washing machines, there is a risk of staying behind the closed door of the room or trousers may be stolen. Do not worry, this article will help you master this life skill!

Business at the university

While studying at the university, I lived in a student dormitory and in 2010, once again washing clothes in a basin, I thought angrily - why do we not have a laundry room? At that moment I got the idea that it would be nice to somehow solve this problem myself. The idea of ​​opening self-service laundries with landromats actually lay on the surface: in the States, as you know, this format is very well developed.

When an idea was born, my first thing with friends came with an offer to my native university. Fortunately, the management expressed a desire to help us with both equipment and repair. From the moment we spoke with the leadership of the university, and until the laundry opened, about nine months passed. During this time, a lot of interesting things happened. Initially, we just wanted to buy ordinary cars, put my grandmother to take things and take money. But they realized that it was unprofitable, and began to think how to automate all this, they were looking for European counterparts. As a result, they came to the guys from the St. Petersburg State Electrotechnical University "LETI", who for two or three months tried to turn ordinary cars into landromats, soldered something, burned several cars as a result. As a result, the development of equipment took about three months.

We put five washing machines and two drying machines in the first laundry room, located in our university. This laundry still works, though I don’t have a relationship with it, now it is on the balance sheet of the university. Gradually, we began to scale the business: we opened a second, third, fourth laundry. Now we have already established our own production. Over time, we peacefully parted with partners. Now I am left alone in business.

The first laundry took about 400,000 rubles. And this taking into account the fact that the university helped us a lot. We were able to interest the management that our proposal is necessary.

Then the university partially bought the equipment, then leased it to us, and we were engaged in the maintenance of this equipment, paid the rent, and took the difference to ourselves.

Opening subsequent laundries cost us less - about 300,000 rubles. Because we understood where to save. And they opened the laundries already at their own expense.

Russian analogue of European equipment

Abroad produce specialized machines already equipped with tokens and coin acceptors. That is, these are special landromats made for commercial purposes. Such washing machines are better in quality than ordinary household ones, they have a built-in coin acceptor that can be flashed under any coin of any country. But their cost is much higher. If we take an ordinary household car for 20,000 rubles, equip it with our payment system, it costs 50,000 - 60,000 rubles at the exit. It is much cheaper. We simply had to convert the machines ourselves, because at the start we did not have a lot of money.

You need to understand that European equipment is specialized equipment that is ready to work on a commercial basis. This is more professional equipment, and therefore it costs more, and its energy requirements are completely different. Suppose, if a household machine uses half a watt for washing, then a professional one will consume one and a half or two. And believe me, not all hostels can allocate a sufficient amount of electricity. For example, five cars are 10 kW, and all old buildings have old wiring. Household appliances consume electricity like a personal computer or an electric kettle, no more. And so our converted home appliances have many advantages.

Factors Affecting Payback

The payback period for starting investments is from five to nine months. It all depends on the rental rate, the cost of washing, the number of cars, how often they break, and other factors. For example, one hostel can bring 100,000 rubles. per month, and the other is exactly the same - 40 000 rubles. We are trying to analyze what the difference is.

Practice has shown that boys wash more than girls.

There is a seasonality factor in this business, and in St. Petersburg everything is perfect in this regard: we are always dirty and damp, so people wash more often.

In the hostel, where there were repairs and two weeks there was no hot water, we did more washes. Cars operate with cold water, so people are forced to use landromats after turning off the hot water.

A dormitory of a corridor type brings more money than a dormitory with a block system. In such dormitories for every six rooms there is a unit, each has a bathroom, shower, where people can wash and dry things with their hands. And in the dormitories of the corridor type for the entire corridor there are two baths that are constantly occupied. Accordingly, there is no way to wash normally, and everyone goes to wash in a typewriter. There are many nuances that we look at when we open somewhere.

Payback may also depend on whether repairs are needed. There are places where they are not required, and these are the main costs after the equipment. This greatly reduces the payback time.

In our format of closed and fully automated self-service laundries, when only people living in a particular building can use landromats, there is a minus - a ceiling, a limit on earnings. But there is a plus - a very low entry threshold, for 200,000 - 250,000 rubles. You can start earning from 50,000 rubles. monthly.

Areas of work

We work in three directions: the first is student dormitories, the second is hostels and working dormitories, the third is the sale of landromats and their further maintenance.

As for student hostels, universities often do not make much money from the self-service laundries that we organize. It is very important for them that students are satisfied with the service and that they have no complaints about the administration of the hostels. The presence of a laundry in a European format is an advantage that applicants and their parents pay attention to.

It is clear that universities do not want to spend money on organizational issues, but we are able to solve them ourselves, while we compensate the university for utility bills and even pay small rents. Usually this amount is not more than 10,000 rubles. for one hostel with the number of residents in the 500 - 700 people. We also completely undertake the repair of the premises, bring all communications, install additional equipment and guarantee a low washing cost for each launch - 80 rubles. for 6 kg of linen. We earn from this, we pay the rental costs, maintenance costs (we have a master who is engaged in maintenance) and small cleaning costs. Often cleaning is carried out by an employee of the hostel, we just pay him 2000-3000 rubles. for extra work. Also, in each dormitory there is a full-time plumber, to whom we also pay extra. Matters related to plumbing are also resolved at an additional cost. And by and large, we earn, leaving a difference for ourselves.

As for the hostels and work hostels, I can safely say that it was I who first opened this format for them. Usually, when opening hostels, owners think that they will be able to provide free laundry to visitors. They buy the cheapest cars, which in six months begin to break down, because they are often used. After several repairs of the cars, the hostels begin to take money for washing. It happens like this: visitors give money to the administrator, and he starts the machine. Unfortunately, in most cases there is a risk of theft. Hostels do not receive from the machine the money that they would like to receive. A vicious circle arises: the cars are fully operational, therefore they often break down, and the money that is earned does not cover the repair.

And here we come and offer 2000 rubles. per typewriter, for staff - 10 free washes of towels and other necessary things per month. And we pay the rent, give customers laundry detergent, and take the difference for ourselves. That is, we close the issue of washing, the hostel does not spend money on equipment and its maintenance. If the cars break down, then we solve the problem ourselves within 24 hours - we either install new equipment or repair it.

Many hostels were initially skeptical of our offer. We offered a couple of months of trial use, and now more than 30 large hostels in St. Petersburg are working with us.

Everyone is happy, and now clients themselves are calling us and asking us to put cars in their hostels.

Unfortunately, now there are fewer working dormitories, but they are also an important area for business development. But I am considering other work options, I even thought at one time about how to get into open format. But since we are still not everywhere in St. Petersburg and Moscow, so far we are focused on expanding the network at least twice. We have an understanding for the next two to three years: what we want to do, how many cars to grow, what turn to reach.

Work on the win-win system

We have a rule: for 100 people - one car. A student dormitory for 500 people usually has six cars, because students wash more and more often. But in general, for a comfortable wash, one machine per 100 people is enough. Of course, there are queues, but this is better than the cars will be idle. We have counters on each typewriter, we can track the number of washes and the load on a daily basis. If we see that the load is large on one machine, then we naturally put the second, because every second machine adds an average of 20% profit.

Of course, there are difficulties in working with hostels and work hostels. There are hostels that categorically do not want to work with us, they say that we offer a far-fetched service. But I always communicate with key customers myself, so I know how to convince them: I do not show them the advantages of my business, but what the landlord will benefit from giving us a place.

We work according to this scheme: first we collect information about potential customers, call at the reception, ask about the possibility of settling 100 people (since we are interested in hostels that can accommodate just such a number of people), about whether they have the ability to wash and so on d. After that, we call directly to the hostel’s manager and offer our options for cooperation.

It is difficult and long to negotiate with student dormitories. Unfortunately, universities often do not care how students live; it is much more important for them that the main hall is beautiful, the site is smart. Although we come and issue a ready-made solution, the university just needs to help us get up without any costs. Those who care, cite laws that prevent them from using our service. But we were lucky with the university in which I studied. His leadership did everything to help us organize a launderette. Now it is proud that in every university dormitory students can wash clothes without problems.

Since it is difficult to agree with universities, we went to hostels. Still, there are people with a commercial vein, they understand what a client is. Of course, there are hostels that react to this negatively; they don’t understand how they can take money from people for washing. For example, we recently began to cooperate with one large hostel in St. Petersburg, its management did not set up paid cars until a certain time, fearing that people would perceive this incorrectly. However, after installing our equipment, the lines for washing decreased, the availability of machines increased at a cost of 50 rubles. for washing. The hosts are satisfied, the hostel saves electricity and water.

Competitive environment

In St. Petersburg there is a company friendly to us, which has assembled the first control unit for us. We, in fact, gave her an idea of ​​what to do. Now they themselves are selling something similar. We have been working together for a long time and continue to periodically cooperate, but this company is exclusively engaged in the sale of equipment. Now we have already reached the level where we ourselves can make equipment. I don’t know whether it is possible to consider them in the full sense of the word as competitors, probably, in the sale of equipment - yes, but on the whole - no, because in St. Petersburg they are not developing, they do not want to build their network.

There are a couple of single players who once once put the equipment somewhere. That is, we have not yet encountered such companies that, like us, strive to develop and stand everywhere and everywhere. Although I definitely know the top three large companies in Moscow. They work on European equipment and are developing quite actively. I don’t know how they are doing in Moscow, but in the capital the number of hostels and workers' hostels is huge, I think that everyone will have enough space.

Options for Further Development

No wonder they say that you need to be at the right time in the right place. We tried - and we did it. Now in my network in St. Petersburg alone there are more than a hundred machines that are directly at my service. Cars sold about the same in Russia. The machine’s life is at least three years, during which time it pays for itself several times.

Now we are very interested in entering the Moscow market. Also, from the end of March, we started selling franchises. A lot of people learn about us, call us, say that they want to open such laundries in their city. We help them, share our experience.

We have a representative office in Moscow and a person who will promote our franchise. Most likely, this company will develop as a separate one. We will sell the franchise from Moscow throughout Russia, because now there are a lot of requests. The cost of a franchise with a whole package of equipment is 150,000 rubles. This is a good quality offer.

As for the format of open laundries, which is so widespread in America, we have in St. Petersburg the company number one in Russia, which is actively developing it. This format is gaining popularity and probably has certain prospects. In America, in my opinion, the prevalence of such laundries is associated with a large number of rental housing. In order not to carry a machine, people often just do not put it, preferring to do laundry. With us, on the contrary, people first of all buy a typewriter in the house.

For me it was a question - do people wash in such laundries? It turned out that they were erasing. I even had the thought of trying to open a laundry of a similar format in my sleeping area. But in this case, you also need to consider the seasonality factor. Such laundries survive due to corporate services: during the day they wash people's clothes from the street, and they wash hotels during the night shift.

We are looking for such places

Many students are forced to carry dirty things to the laundry home. Well, as an option, it may do. And if a student came from afar and happens at home 1-2 times a year? Then this option disappears, since it is impossible to have so many things so as not to wash them for six months and walk in clean clothes. What, then, would be for poor students? Where can I wash clothes?

It’s unlikely that the option of handing things over to dry cleaning is a very expensive pleasure for “poor” students. You can wash things in a public laundry, but first you will need to work hard to find it. Previously, in Soviet times, such laundries were in every household, but now there are very few of them. Basically, we know about them from American TV shows where people come to the laundry room, load laundry into the car, and while they are doing laundry, calmly relax over a glass of coffee in a nearby cafe. But, as they say, he who seeks will always find. True, it may turn out that the laundry is located on the other side of the city.

Of course, most students wash their clothes in the dormitory on their own, using an ordinary basin for this, and preferably two. The procedure is not pleasant, but nowhere to go. Need to be patient, detergent for hand washing and go. Having finished washing, there is another problem: where to dry things? Well, if the hostel has a “dryer” for things, but if not, then you have to stock up with a decent amount of coat hanger or dry laundry on a battery.

More options closer to real life

A great way to solve the problem is to wash things with classmates who live in apartments or in the city. Can you make friends with classmates for the sake of such a thing? The same can be done with relatives.Another simple way out is to get a job as a maid or a cleaner in a hotel or a rich house and wash your things at work.

An option for the brave is to negotiate with the castellan. As a rule, there is at least one washing machine in the hostel, well, a large hostel cannot do without a machine ... Usually, she is at the castellan’s house, and you just need to get into her confidence and become your own person.

However, this last method does not solve the problem of the entire hostel. But in one dormitory, enterprising student guys managed to cope with this disaster. They bought a washing machine and a mini-business: they washed other people's things for a small fee. Read more about this in the article "Informal work for students."

Students are people with excellent imagination, therefore there are also such "craftsmen" who wash things directly in the shower or in the washbasin. But, most importantly, a student who wants to look well-groomed and tidy will always find a way out of the situation and will figure out where to wash things if necessary.