Your friends lament their lost time folding laundry and moan about that impending clothing pile in the corner of their bedroom. But all the while, you can’t contribute anything to their woeful distress. You love laundry. The smell of the cottony detergent, the feeling of pressing clean sheets, and the satisfaction of folding shirts to perfectly fit a drawer could have you spending hours folding and putting away crisp and clean clothing.
Why Start a Laundry Business?
If you haven’t already, it might be time to consider starting up a laundry business, because chances are, there are dozens more just like your friends right in your area, all willing to pay for done-for-you laundry services.
15 Steps to Starting a Laundry Business
1. Write a Business Plan
Before we get into the details of pricing, business structure, and target market, let’s make a plan, a business plan. Business plans aren’t like that one-size-fits-all jacket you love folding; instead, it’s catered to a specific business owner and type. Consider finding a business plan template online, or start outlining the basics like a financial plan, target market, and 6-month and 1-year goals.
2. Establish Your Target Market
Think back to where you hear about those folding despairs the most. If from your friends, what type of market are they? Do they have kids, live as working moms, or are they traveling professionals who want the laundry to be the last thing they ever think about? Establishing your target market from the top will fuel your marketing strategy, financial strategy, and business plan.
3. Create Services to Offer
There are loads of laundry services you can offer, no pun intended. Consider whether you want to open a traditional laundromat, fluff-and-fold delivery service, or laundromat cafe. To make your decision, you’ll need to think about the resources you have, the money you can invest, and the work you’d love to be doing a year from now.
4. Project Costs and Secure Funding
Your services could dictate your costs or your costs could dictate your services. Consider whether you want to open a storefront with self-serve options for your downtown dwellers or a streamlined delivery service where customers can leave out their laundry and leave the rest to you. If you go the approach of a storefront, you can secure startup costs through small business bank loans (particularly if you can get a business bank account), Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, or even crowdfunding operations.
5. Find a Suitable Location
Location is important whether you’re opening a shop or delivering your services. Laundromats should be accessible enough for customers to tackle multiple errands in a row or swing by before and after work with ease. But even if you’re taking on a laundry delivery service, think about a dedicated space you can wash, dry, and fold laundry.
6. Pricing Structure
Here are some common pricing structures you can base your laundry service:
Laundromat — Price per pound, machine, or item, depending on your machines and business operations. For example, you could price at $2 per pound, $3 per machine, or $15 for a comforter. For reference, check out this laundromat in Southern California pricing breakdown.
Delivery — Price per pound or item, accounting for additional delivery costs. For example, price $2 per pound with a minimum weight of 30 pounds, with a separate charge of $15 per comforter, so your price for gas there and back is worth it.
7. Create a Marketing Strategy and Advertise and Market Your Business
When you’re just starting your business, utilize free marketing strategies, and when you start building a business, invest in some more far-reaching marketing efforts.
Free Marketing Idea — Create an Instagram and TikTok account capturing everything from your process of getting out a tough stain, to your daily delivery route, to how you fold and pack pants for your fluff and fold services.
Local Marketing Idea — Partner with a shop nearby to offer a coupon for everyone who comes in while their laundry is being washed in exchange for marketing in their shop. It’s a win-win. The customer can get discounted products, the store can get more customers, and you’re able to get more brand awareness.
Paid Marketing Idea — Create a website and invest in pay-per-click advertising and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) through regular blog posts.
8. Name of Business
Naming your laundry business should check off two boxes:
- It speaks to your target market in your area — Whether that’s people who want a luxurious laundry experience, value fast service, or want it to feel like they have a personal assistant just for them.
- It’s clear — Make your store’s name reflect what you’re offering. Pearly Clothes is a fine name, but it could apply to a laundromat, a boutique, or a thrift store. Pearly Fluff and Fold paints a clearer picture as a laundry service and is uniquely branded to a luxury-loving target market.
9. Choose Your Business Structure
Sole Proprietorship and General Partnership
Unincorporated; they each don’t require paperwork or forming but also don’t protect your personal assets against legal issues that might come against your business. A sole prop is for a single owner, and a general partnership is for more than 1 business owner.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Incorporated; requires paperwork and filing but gives you an Employer Identification Number (EIN) that allows you to open a business bank account. It also protects your personal liabilities, creating a formal business structure to protect you from any liabilities. A common business structure for independent business owners like laundry businesses.
Two or more entrepreneurs go into business together but are only held liable for the amount of money they invested in their business.
Incorporated; an S Corporation has fewer than 100 shareholders and a C Corporation, which is for larger organizations and is owned by stockholders. You probably won’t be filing as a C-corp, but might file your LLC as an S-corp in the future if that’s ever needed.
10. Register Your Business
After choosing your business, head over to your state’s Secretary of State Office website to register your business. The sooner your register the better, as you can write off business expenses from the laundry machines to the gas it takes you to travel for delivery services, to soaps, scrubs, and washes.
11. Acquire Licenses and Permits
There aren’t many licenses you will need to have a laundry business. If you have a storefront, you may need permits like a health permit, water safety permit, and signage stating that mandatory inspections have been competing. Head over to the SBA’s license and permits page to see your requirements.
12. Open a Business Bank Account
Separate your personal spending from your business spending with a business bank account. It’ll help you distinguish your business costs and will make tax filing easier. (doola has a fee-free global Visa business account just for you.)
13. Purchase Supplies and Equipment
Whether you’re doing a laundry pickup service or starting a laundromat business, consider the basic costs of laundry equipment first:
- Washing machine
- Drying machine
- Soaps, detergents, solvents, and stain removers
- Hamper or laundry caddy
- Folding space or table
- Ironing space or table
- Storage racks
- Car (if traveling)
If you’re opening a storefront, understand that you’ll need to multiply your costs to fill it with several laundry machines to maintain several customers.
14. Get Business Insurance
Even if your business is established, it’s still important to get insurance to cover your business in case anyone were to try to sue. Browse through quotes from sites like Insuranks that have special insurance just for your business entity.
15. Hire Employees
When it’s time to scale, don’t feel like you have to be the only one doing the dirty work. Hire employees with experience in laundry and budget their salaries by revising your business plan as needed.
Fluff and Fold with doola in Your Pocket
Every small business needs someone in their corner to help them through every big step. We’ve had the privilege of helping hundreds of small business owners from laundry lovers to tenacious techies who know the importance of starting right. Run your business as smoothly as linen bed sheets with doola’s bookkeeping services.
How much does it cost to start a laundry business?
You could start a laundry service with just a few hundred dollars with a working car, laundry machines, detergents, soaps, and some time on your hands!
Is owning a laundry business profitable?
You can profit from a laundry business, as long as you establish a clear business plan, hire out when you need, and maintain a price range in your target market’s budget.
How much is laundry service?
Laundry services range from about $15-$20 per service, depending on your area.
Who are the competitors for a laundry business?
Convenient laundry delivery services, cheap laundromats, and sleek new laundry machines can all be competitors of your laundry business, but at the end of the day, there will likely always be a market for what you’re servicing.