How to Run Your Laundromat as an Absentee Owner: A Beginner’s Guide

Want to invest in a profitable, reliable, recession-proof business with a incredibly high success rate (95%) where machines do most of the work?

Owning a laundromat will allow you to do just that.  And if you structure it properly, you can enjoy passive income as an “absentee owner” of that business.  Being an absentee owner means you can reap the benefits of the business without the hassles of actively managing it. 

This article will tell you step-by-step how you can structure your laundromat so that it operates as an absentee-run business.  We will cover the following strategies:

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The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not a recommendation to buy or invest, and it is not financial, investment, legal, or tax advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any investment or other decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.

Step 1: Use Technology

Using technology can go a long way toward allowing you to run your laundromat as an absentee business. 

For example, you can install laundry management software on your machines.  

There are a number of companies that offer this type of technology, but the version offered by Laundylux, for example, allows you to keep track of your laundromats performance on a machine by machine basis, including each machine’s usage and revenue.  So you can figure out what times are busiest, what promotions work best, etc.  You can even remotely change pricing in real-time to maximize your profits.

It also alerts you when a machine malfunctions and it can send the malfunction alerts to you or even directly to you technician.  That's a very handy feature for an absentee owner.

You can also install card payment technology or even mobile payment solutions for your machines.  

This can be expensive, but can radically change your workload (it also has the added benefit of reducing the risk of theft, etc.).  The one thing that most laundromat owners have trouble outsourcing is collecting quarters and handling money.  With the card payment technology installed, you can dramatically cut down on (or even eliminate) this task.  

Step 2: Use Security Cameras

Using security cameras is a huge step in making your laundromat an absentee-run business.  You can see everything that is going on without being present and can record every action that takes place. 

So, you can see if your laundromat is opened on time each day and confirm that it is properly cleaned and closed at the end of each day.  You can make sure that your employees are doing what they need to do to keep your operations running smoothly.

Most importantly, you can keep an eye on the machines and the money.

Step 3: Use Employees and Contractors

Perhaps the most important element of running an absentee business is making sure you have someone (not you!) do the tasks that the machines can’t do. 

That includes restocking inventory (like detergents packs, etc.), collecting coins (if you are not on a cashless system), emptying and filling change machines, cleaning the facility, etc.

If you are running a laundromat that is manned (i.e., has someone on-site), then you obviously will have some employees.  Even if you are running an unmanned laundromat, you will still need someone to do the tasks outlined above.

That means that your laundromat has to be capable of supporting the expenses of having employees (or at least contractors) if you want to be an absentee owner.  If the laundromat is barely breaking even as is, you are going to have to do some of the work yourself to make ends meet. 

Let’s assume the laundromat generates enough money to hire people.  The key step is hiring a manager that takes your place and oversees the operation of the laundromat.  You will need to give that person a lot of responsibility, including managing the other employees, coordinating repairs, ordering inventory when needed, and even taking care of some of the cash management tasks. 

You may feel uncomfortable doing this (I get it).  You can certainly choose to keep the cash management piece for yourself.  But you can put in place strong processes and controls that will help prevent things like theft from occurring.

Making sure there are cameras pointed in the right places goes a long way. So does having a controlled process for your manager to access cash (like putting the keys to the machines and change machine in a secure safe).

When your manager needs access to the keys, they can contact you and get the temporary code for the safe.  You can then observe their activities with your security cameras to ensure everything is done correctly. 

Finally, you will want to have reliable technicians who can fix your machines quickly and for a reasonable price.  You do not want to be the one fixing your machines (even if it’s way cheaper to do so) if you want to have any hope of running your laundromat as an absentee owner.

If you really want to automate your business as much as possible, you can also use an armed transit service to securely take away and deposit your cash.  Many cash based businesses do this, including ATM machine owners.

Step 4: Systematize Everything

One of the keys to operating your laundromat as an absentee-run business is organization and strong processes.  You need to make sure that every element of your business is outsourced or handled by someone other than you. 

The steps we covered above will address the most pressing tasks that every laundromat owner must account for, but there are a host of smaller things that you will need to address too.  Try to automate even the little things so that you can develop a truly hassle-free business.

You may want to develop an operations manual that covers every possible process, including opening and closing the facility, maintaining the facility, maintaining the machines, inventory management, customer management, employee management, cash management, and everything else.

Not only will this serve as a great resource for you, it will be a huge benefit if you want to train anyone to be a manager (in case your current manager leaves).  You can also use this operations manual to serve as the blueprint for opening up a new location and growing your business.  

Finally, this type of operations manual can be invaluable to a new owner, if you plan on selling the laundromat at some point in the future.

Conclusion

So there you have it, four steps to creating an absentee-owned laundromat.  Hope these tips help you to step away from the mundane day-to-day tasks of operating a laundromat and allow to you actually enjoy being the owner of a profitable and well-run laundromat.

Are you interested in learning how to start a new laundromat or want to know how to purchase one?  Check out my article on how to start a passive laundromat in six easy steps.

Want to learn about other great absentee owner businesses?  Check out my article on the best absentee businesses (with 12 examples).

Young M.

Young M.

Young is a lawyer working in the financial services industry and writes about real estate investing, personal finance, passive income, and starting businesses. He owns and manages 9 rental properties, has started several businesses, and enjoys learning about financial matters, especially anything off the beaten path.

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