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Zombie Laundromats. Is Yours One?

zämbē – A person (or thing) who is or appears lifeless, apathetic, or completely unresponsive to their surroundings.


Signs Your Store is a Zombie Laundry.

  • Machines are old and are eating away your profitability potential
  • Dated and unappealing store fronts
  • Poorly lit and dirty interiors
  • Failure to adapt to new trends and technologies in marketing
  • Unresponsive to changing demographics and customer tastes

According to the Coin Laundry Association, there are about 35,000 coin laundries in the United States. While the industry is vibrant and profitable for most owners, many stores are simply zombie stores. These zombie stores are rolling along, almost lifeless, even if they are profitable. In other words, they are unengaging, inefficient and generally foregoing growth and profit.

What’s the Cure?

Now that your eyes have been opened to the zombie-like state of your coin laundry, how do you cure what ails your business? Sell it? That’s not always a cure. Even if you decide to sell, an old store will probably have a low valuation. An upgraded store will have a higher valuation and is more likely to sell for a higher price, potentially providing a much higher profit.

You can approach the problem from many angles and in stages but perhaps tackling all angles simultaneously is the best way.

  1. Throw out the old machines and replace them with new ones.

Your old machines are eating the flesh of your profits. By replacing them with newer, advanced and more efficient machines you can generate savings on electricity and water. It also gives you the selling point of being more environmentally friendly. Even more, it gives you great news to announce to your community: “Faster, Newer Machines!”

By the way, putting new panels on old machines is not the same as re-tooling. As the old adage says, it is like “putting lipstick on a pig”. Though it may be tempting to just “facelift” your old machines, there are simply too many benefits you’ll miss out on by not replacing your equipment.

Related Post: 3 Questions Laundry Owners Should Ask Themselves

  1. Give your store a facelift.

That 1980’s faded beige stucco storefront is unlikely to attract today’s laundry customers. Store design is important to its profitability. Add new signage and clear the window views so that the inside can easily be seen from the outside.

To complement those new, more efficient machines, you should improve the interior of your store as well. Better signage, easily seen and with clearer instructions are always a plus.

Brighter and more energy efficient lighting is a must. Consider LED lighting. As the price decreases and their performance gets better, LED lighting can provide additional reductions in your energy usage.

  1. Know your demographics and adapt.

One of the reasons your store may be considered a zombie store may be that it just doesn’t cater to the demographic of the surrounding community. With the changing demographic profiles of cities and towns across the country, some business owners are caught flat-footed in responding to an ever changing market.

For example, if the local neighborhood has an increasing number of a particular foreign language speaking residents, it may be wise to translate some instructional and price signs into that language.

Another example is payment systems. As your customer base gets younger and more tech savvy, you may want to add other payment options – card, mobile payments and other methods. The goal is to adapt to your customer’s lives so that doing laundry at your store becomes a seamless part of their activities.

  1. Re-tool your marketing.

That ¼ page ad in the weekly coupon circular is not inexpensive, plus your target market may not even open that circular. In order to quickly reach those you want to reach and more, try new channels and media. Facebook, Instagram and other social media outlets are easy to use and allow you to connect to a large number of people for little or no cost. Even a well-designed website can give you a presence on the web which can translate into much greater visibility for your business.


You can turn your zombie store into a glistening, gleaming potential pot of gold with straight forward and simple steps. The alternative to revitializing your store is to let the zombie wander aimlessly, barely responding to new markets, new technologies and new opportunities for growth. Which would you rather?

Financing new equipment for a laundromat