If you own a local laundromat and you’ve decided to sell your business, there are some important steps you should take immediately to make sure the right people find out about the sale and you receive valid offers that are worth your time and effort.
After all, the last thing you need is to be taken to the cleaners when you’re trying to sell your laundromat.
Initial planning and preparation
If you’ve decided, “I’m going to sell my laundromat,” here is a quick checklist of items you need to make sure are taken care of before you even let anyone know the business is for sale:
● All financial and business records are in order
● The building itself is clean and in good repair, including the grounds and parking lot
● The machines are all in working order (with up to date service records available)
● Any leases, service contracts, or other ongoing contractual obligations are clearly documented and up-to-date
● There is someone in place (other than you) capable of running the business
With these basic items in place - which generally apply to any business for sale - you’re ready to let the world know your laundromat is for sale.
Your customers are not your prospective buyers
Although you’re likely to sell a local neighborhood laundromat to someone who already lives in the area, they’re unlikely to be one of your customers. The average laundromat patron is a renter living nearby who likely has a limited income. Most prospective business owners will be homeowners with their own washer and dryer at home.
So, simply hanging up a For Sale sign in the window won’t be good enough, and can even hurt business, theoretically. In most cases, your customers come to your laundromat because it’s convenient for them, but also because they’re comfortable there. They probably spend a few hours a week there, and many of them have actually come to enjoy that opportunity to get something done in a clean, comfortable environment.
Seeing that for sale sign in the window could disrupt their comfort level and get them thinking about the laundromat down the block. It may be a slightly further walk, but it’s not going anywhere (as far as they know) and it could feel like a safer bet.
Along with possibly upsetting your customers, a for sale sign could impact the morale of any existing staff. Many staff won’t find comfort in changes that they don’t know the timing or outcome of.
Targeting the right audience of prospective buyers
The right target audience for your laundromat for sale will come from the following list (in priority order):
● Owners of competing laundromats in the area
● Current business owners (who don’t own laundromats) in the area
● Local entrepreneurs interested in running their own business
● Business owners/investors from outside the area
This is not to say that you should start by restricting your marketing efforts to just the local area, but that your best prospects will already be in the area, and may even be familiar with your laundromat.
While you could, theoretically, reach out to your competitors and other local businesspeople directly, this is both time consuming and awkward. A better option is to work with a businesses for sale listing service and bring on a professional business broker to handle locating buyers and initial negotiations.
This method allows you to target the best prospects while ensuring that other less likely - but viable - options are not overlooked.
Keeping the laundromat saleable throughout the process
One of the keys to successfully selling a business that many owners don’t realize is that it tends to take quite a while; 6-9 months is the average, with over a year on the market not being uncommon.
This is assuming you’re hoping to get top dollar for your laundromat, and are not willing to sacrifice value for a faster sale.
During the time that your laundromat is on the market, it’s important that all of the prep work you’ve already done remains intact:
● The premises stay clean and neat
● The machines and building systems are in good repair
● The records stay organized and up-to-date
● Any changes to ongoing legal or financial obligations are documented clearly
The entire time your laundromat is on the market, you have to expect that a prospective buyer may visit - even unannounced - to get a feel for the value of the business he or she may be interested in purchasing. That’s not the time for them to see a stained ceiling tile from water damage or an “out of order” sign on an industrial washer.
Just like when someone is house hunting, the curbside appeal - or visual first impression - has a lasting effect on the eventual offer that prospective buyer is willing to make.
If you’ve planned and prepared appropriately, targeted the right prospective buyers, marketed your business effectively, and kept up with the necessary details throughout the process, you’ll no doubt soon be saying, “I just sold my laundromat!”