PlanetLaundry and Supplements Southeast Supplement Spring 2013 : Page 1

Supplement to the PlanetLaundry Magazine BUSINESS PROFILE STEVEN GOULD Spring 2013 | planetlaundry.com | coinlaundry.org Like Father, Like Daughter Two Generations Combine to Operate Florida Laundry Business Amber Slike has energy to burn. And, as the manager of Your Village Laundry in Lakeland, Fla., her enthusiasm and outgoing personality have set the tone for the store – making it a welcoming location for her customers when laundry day rolls around. The business was originally purchased by Amber’s mom and dad – Marianne and Frank Slike – who had done plenty of research on small-business opportunities and felt that, of all the businesses they looked into, a self-service laundry was the most ideal one for them. After all, Mr. Slike had experience in mechanics and felt comfortable taking on the maintenance aspect of the equipment. The family also liked the idea of owning a cash-based business In addition, the walk-in foot traffic common to a laundromat and the opportunity to talk and interact with customers on a daily basis was attractive to the Slikes, who appreciate being able to have some control over their work schedule. Having done all of their research and deciding on a coin laundry, the Slikes began looking around for an existing ADVERTISERS Aaxon | 15 Clean Show | 09 Coin Laundry Association | 11 Coin Laundry Insurance | 05 DIY Direct | 10 Laundry Brokers | 08 LaundryPro | 13 PlanetLaundry.com | 13 SE Laundry Equipment Sales | Inside Front Cover Setomatic Systems | 04 Statewide | 07 Wascomat | Back Cover Wholesale Commercial Laundry Equipment SE | 12 continued on page 6

BUSINESS PROFILE

Like Father, Like Daughter
Two Generations Combine to Operate Florida Laundry Business

Amber Slike has energy to burn. And, as the manager of Your Village Laundry in Lakeland, Fla., her enthusiasm and outgoing personality have set the tone for the store – making it a welcoming location for her customers when laundry day rolls around.

The business was originally purchased by Amber’s mom and dad – Marianne and Frank Slike – who had done plenty of research on small-business opportunities and felt that, of all the businesses they looked into, a self-service laundry was the most ideal one for them. After all, Mr. Slike had experience in mechanics and felt comfortable taking on the maintenance aspect of the equipment. The family also liked the idea of owning a cash-based business

In addition, the walk-in foot traffic common to a laundromat and the opportunity to talk and interact with customers on a daily basis was attractive to the Slikes, who appreciate being able to have some control over their work schedule.

Having done all of their research and deciding on a coin laundry, the Slikes began looking around for an existing laundromat to purchase. They soon found the type of store they wanted for sale in a desirable location in Lakeland. After months of negotiations and securing bank loans, the Slikes purchased the 1,200-square-foot Your Village Laundry in November of 2007.

The entire process of purchasing the store took about five months. Taking over operations went smoothly, but the family did have quite the surprise approximately seven to eight months in into ownership.

They began to get to know the neighbors in their strip center a little bit better, even socializing with many of them on a business-to-business basis. One of those neighbors is a dog grooming business, which is located directly next door to the coin laundry. And, one day, while talking with the owner about utility costs and general operating expenses, they began discussing their respective water bills.

The dog groomer mentioned that she never received a water bill for her business, so she just assumed that water was included in her rent. As it turns out, that wasn’t the case. After doing some investigating, the Slikes discovered that the dog grooming business was attached to the laundromat’s water and that they were getting one bill for both stores. They immediately rectified that situation and have since experienced a significant drop in their monthly water bill.

Unfortunately, a few years into owning the store, Marianne Slike passed away. It was then that Amber decided to join the business in order to help out her father. Therefore, she now manages the laundry’s day-to-day operations, while Frank has become, more or less, a silent partner. Aside from managing the store, Amber has inherited her father's mechanical aptitude and now maintains and repairs the machines alongside him.

Your Village Laundry features a strong mix of customers, which comes from nearby apartment complexes, as well as the many single-family homes in the area. Fortunately for the Slikes, many of the apartments don’t even have laundry rooms, so the tenants come to Your Village on laundry day. By contrast, most of the people living in the single-family homes have their own washers and dryers, but those residential machines are simply not capable of handling laundry loads that include larger items, such as comforters and bed spreads. What’s more, many of the homes in the area are on wells – so those individuals prefer bringing their dirty garments to the laundromat, as opposed to washing them in well water.

The owners of Your Village Laundry certainly take advantage of many of the advertising and marketing opportunities available to them. For example, they place ads on the placemats at a local restaurant. In addition, they send out flyers to a targeted group of local residences, and they hold a monthly raffle at the store. Amber, who oversees the store’s Facebook account, also makes certain that the business has a strong presence on every major internet search engine.

Because it’s located in a strip center, Your Village Laundry is surrounded by many of the types of local businesses that typically draw heavy walk-in traffic. Along with the aforementioned dog grooming service, there is a grocery store, a hardware store, fast-food restaurants and a gas station.

Fortunately for the Slikes, one type of business that’s not too close to Your Village is a competing laundromat. Currently, there are two other coin laundries in the general area; however, they are about four to five miles away.

Although competition is not right around the corner, Amber and her dad are always attempting to set their business apart from other laundries in the market. As a result, they keep a spotless store and maintain a personal presence. They both love to chat with their customers, get to know them by name and develop regular ongoing relationships with the people who, in the end, pay their bills. They also watch for customers who may have extra burdens or children, and help them bring their laundry loads in and out of the store.

Your Village Laundry is open from 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and is fully attended, with one full time attendant in addition to Amber and her father.

For customer convenience, the store offers a wash-dry-fold service for $1.10 per pound with a 12-pound minimum. And, while the Slikes currently don’t handle any commercial accounts, this additional segment to their laundry business is something that’s on the drawing board for the near future.

The Slikes feel that one of their biggest strengths is being accessible and listening to their customers.

“Presence is peace of mind to our customers,” Frank explained. “When they see Amber, myself or our attendant always there and taking to heart what they have to say, it really makes a big difference.”

While there is nothing definite on the table at the moment, Amber has big plans for the future.

“We really would like to expand our existing store,” she noted. “And I would also like to open more stores.”

Read the full article at http://digitaleditions.walsworthprintgroup.com/article/BUSINESS+PROFILE/1325037/148020/article.html.

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