How to rebuild your laundromat after a disaster? Check this out. After almost a year of searching for just the right laundry business, Ross Dodds and his partner, Russel Pinkard, finally managed to acquire Wash on Western in Hollywood, California in December 2014. Six days later, Dodds learned that the restaurant next door had caught fire and left the coin op laundry damaged beyond repair. Dodds and Pinkard spent the next two years researching the industry and figuring out the best way to start over. They have finally reopened with a much better store than they started with, having had a crash course in disaster recovery.
When Dodds and Pinkard first set eyes on their laundromat, Wash on Western, they had three thoughts: it was run-down and in a state of disarray; but the fact that it was a highly-visible location in a densely-populated rental neighborhood also probably meant that it was a good business opportunity. At the same time, it was right down the street from a formidable competitor which meant they had to get it right.
Their first order of business was to focus on obvious and relatively easy upgrades: they added free Wi-Fi, replaced old vending machines, televisions, and damaged chairs.They made repairs to existing laundry equipment as necessary to tide them over until they could install new machines.They worked tirelessly cleaning and brightening up the space.They also focused on providing additional value as a neighbor in the community by partnering with A Million Drops, a local non-profit organization that provides support for needy youth and young adults.
“The day our new store sign was delivered was one of the proudest of my life,” said Dodds. “I went to sleep that night filled with joy, all the while plotting out my work schedule for the next day,” he continued. “But then, I was awakened by a phone call at 3:41 a.m. with the devastating news about the fire which left me in a state of shock,” he said. “It was a total loss,” he added, sadly.
Even before the insurance adjusters were done with their work, Dodds and Pinkard got busy trying to figure out the best way to rebuild. In June of 2015, Dodds attended The Clean Show to learn about emerging technology in the laundry business. Afterwards, Dodds scheduled an appointment with WSD, the local Dexter distributor and quickly was linked with Michael Ambrose. “Michael and Western State Design turned out to be a perfect match to help us with our rebuild and relaunch”, said Dodds. “Michael has been as eager to learn about all things laundry as I have, so the process of laying out the store and choosing all its features have been a fun process for both of us,” he continued.
After some research, Dodds chose the innovative Dexter C-Series line of laundry machines. “I immediately appreciated that the Dexter machines would not only allow my customers to finish their wash quickly, but they would also use less water in the process and provide shorter dry times using less gas, as well”, he said. Dodds explained that California’s recent five-year drought made energy conservation critically important.
Dodds also cites the importance of the DexterLive Controls in his equipment decision which provides for live-monitoring of all the equipment in his store. The DexterLive.com web based management system allows him to change pricing, manage promotions, and control individual features of his laundry machines with a push of a button from anywhere.The DexterLive system also helps him monitor revenue and equipment usage which helps with his business decision-making.
The Dexter laundry coin-op equipment Dodds ended up installing in Wash on Western consists of the following:
- (10) 50 lb. Dexter T-50×2 Stack Coin-Operated Dryers
- (4) 30 lb. Dexter T-30×2 Stack Coin-Operated Dryers
- (2) T-1450 Dexter Express 90 lb. Washers
- (6) T-950 Dexter Express 60 lb. Washers
- (4) T-650 Dexter Express 40 lb. Washers
- (6) T-450 Dexter Express 30 lb. Washers
- (7) T-350 Dexter Express 20 lb. Washers
Based on Ambrose’s recommendation, Dodds reconfigured his initial laundry equipment mix to add extra drying capacity in order to avoid bottlenecks during peak times, a key marketing advantage, enabling his customers to finish their wash in less time than at other coin-ops in the area.
Dodds met and developed relationships with other contractors and accessory equipment suppliers at the Clean Show, who provided valuable input about features that would make his laundromat work better. For example, Dodds decided to install SpyderWash hybrid payment system on each machine to provide his customers with flexible payment options and provide him with live receipt reporting.
With the equipment figured out, Dodds and Pinkard turned their focus to the redesign of their Coin-Op interior. “We worked with a local contractor, Laundry Concepts, to create an exciting space,” said Dodds. They added skylights which provided for a bright, safe environment, and decided to add another 500 sq. feet of space previously belonging to what had been the restaurant next door when that opportunity presented itself. Having the dedicated space would allow them to run their service business more efficiently, out of the way of the self-serve customers. The new area was configured for maximum folding and storage space with the help of a storage and organizational specialist.
In an effort to capitalize on the popularity of on-demand services in cities such as Los Angeles, Dodds and Pinkard decided to round out their menu of value-added amenities by adding a pickup and delivery service, Wash Club, modeled after the service that originated in New York. Dodds and Pinkard even flew out to New York and spent a weekend with WashClub NYC in order to understand how to best implement a similar service themselves.
Along with other improvements, Dodds and Pinkard added a wider variety of snacks, drinks and soap vending options available via a new high-tech multi-function machine, ES Combo. They are fully attended and are open 24/7.
Even though his laundromat was out of commission for a while, Dodds has maintained his involvement with A Million Drops and hopes to partner with them in bigger ways, now that his Coin-Op has reopened. “We are confident that our coin-op laundry will rise from the ashes and be a clean beacon to this underserved community,” he says.
ABOUT WASH ON WESTERN
Wash on Western, located at 1548 North Western Avenue in Hollywood, California, is a totally remodeled, full service coin-operated laundromat featuring brand new, state of the art Dexter laundry machines that are fast and efficient, allowing customers to do their laundry in a minimal amount of time. For those who don’t have time to do their own laundry, Wash on Western offers Wash Club, a pickup and delivery service. In addition, it offers free Wi-Fi and has a wide variety of other amenities on site including multiple TV’s and comfortable seating and folding space. For latest developments and events visit www.washonwestern.com.