PlanetLaundry and Supplements Midwest Supplement Fall 2013 : Page 1

Supplement to the PlanetLaundry Magazine BUSINESS PROFILE S TEV EN G OU L D Fall 2013 | planetlaundry.com | coinlaundry.org A Team Effort Two Couples Partner with Neighboring Restaurant Owner to Run Minnesota Laundry Business The Mega Express Laundry, based in Rochester, Minn., is a real team operation. The 3,500-square-foot store is owned by Daniel and Kim Otten, along with their friends and business partners Steve and Becky Johnson. There is also a close working relationship with the owners of the Poblano Mexican restaurant next door – with the workers from the restaurant running the big floor cleaning machine for the laundry to help keep it spotless. What’s more, the wife of the restaurant’s owner runs Mega Express’ wash-dry-fold service. “I've been in the banking business for 30 years, and I'm currently in commercial lending,” Daniel said. “I also had my own business consulting company for about four years. I had done quite a bit with laundromats from the banking and financial side. I was really intrigued and began thinking ADVERTISERS BDS Laundry Systems | 11 Century Laundry | 05 Coin Laundry Insurance | 13 Coin-O-Matic | Back Cover D&M | 07 LaundryFest ’13 | 15 Midwest Laundries | 09 Wascomat | 02 continued on page 3

BUSINESS PROFILE

Steven Gould


A Team Effort

Two Couples Partner with Neighboring Restaurant Owner to Run Minnesota Laundry Business

The Mega Express Laundry, based in Rochester, Minn., is a real team operation.

The 3,500-square-foot store is owned by Daniel and Kim Otten, along with their friends and business partners Steve and Becky Johnson. There is also a close working relationship with the owners of the Poblano Mexican restaurant next door – with the workers from the restaurant running the big floor cleaning machine for the laundry to help keep it spotless. What’s more, the wife of the restaurant’s owner runs Mega Express’ wash-dry-fold service.

“I've been in the banking business for 30 years, and I'm currently in commercial lending,” Daniel said. “I also had my own business consulting company for about four years. I had done quite a bit with laundromats from the banking and financial side. I was really intrigued and began thinking about owning a laundromat around 2008. And, because I had a number of customers who owned or had built coin laundries, I became familiar with how they work.

“The first time I saw the numbers and what it would cost to put up a new laundromat I was kind of in shock,” he continued. “Then, I talked to the folks at BDS Laundry Systems, particularly Tom Jessen – and I got an education on how the laundry business works.”

Otten became a laundry industry “expert” in his own right and began receiving referrals and working with more and more laundry owners on loans, as well as working with the SBA. He has now developed a solid comfort level with the self-service laundry business and his interest in becoming a laundry owner was piqued.

“My wife and I talked about having some other business venture just to supplement our income with four teenagers,” Otten explained. “We thought that – if we found a really good location and a good partner who had time, because we’re really busy already – we would be interested in our own coin laundry.”

So, the Ottens began looking for locations, and their contacts at BDS suggested they look within the Rochester market. Of course, Daniel had become quite familiar with the process and with researching the demographics. Kim, Daniel’s wife, eventually found a good laundry location on an end cap within a strip mall. The vacant site, which had formerly been a Chinese restaurant, was located in a busy mall with other small businesses and a major 24 hour grocery store nearby.

“We talked to the landlord about it, and he was very interested, especially in a 20-year lease,” Otten laughed. “But he didn’t want to do any improvements or any of the buildout. So, we ended up doing the buildout with our own cash.”

The lease was signed in January 2009, and the buildout began immediately. The space was completely gutted, even the drain pipes needed to be cleared due to all of the grease from the old restaurant. A secure office area was built near the center of the space, 2 rest rooms added, machines installed and a wall replaced with windows to open it up and provide natural light. The large windows also provide a feeling of security, because the store faces a busy four-lane road only 15 yards away. Anyone driving by can easily see the entire store and how many people are inside.

The entire process took about four months, and on May 9, 2009, Mega Express Laundry opened its doors to the public – and has been serving its Rochester marketplace 24/7 ever since.

Mega Express Laundry is located in an ideal area not far from downtown and the Mayo Clinic. Rochester is a rather affluent community which includes many medical and related professionals from the Mayo medical system.

Of course, many patients and visitors from all around the world visit the clinic; many stay for extended periods. The Mega Express laundry receives a steady amount of referrals from the local hotels and other businesses serving this clientele. Referrals provide a consistent flow of new customers.

Overall, the store’s market features a diverse ethnic makeup, with older apartments nearby and downtown Rochester just eight blocks away. Many customers come from the apartments because they don't want to wait for a machine and can get their laundry done more quickly at the laundromat.

“We also draw a lot of customers from the affluent neighborhoods who want to wash their camping and sporting equipment or large comforters and need to use our larger machines, they also appreciate a clean safe environment” Otten said.

Mega Express Laundry has five competitors within its market, according to Otten.

“We have a website with directions, answers to laundry questions, pictures of the facility and our machines,” he said. “A lot of our customers find us through the internet; however, we also have an ad in the Yellow Pages.”

Mega Express also boasts a strong “owner presence,” according to Otten.

“My wife, Kim does the book work and handles administrative duties; our partners Steve and Becky are at the store one or two days a week,” he explained. “I come in about every other weekend to work on the machines and talk to the customers. We also have the folks from the Mexican restaurant next door come in and contract clean every few hours.”

Once the laundry opened its doors, Daniel noted that the biggest surprise was how quickly things ramped up. Mega Express enjoyed a good cash flow within three months, according to the owners.

Mega Express offers free internet access to its customers, as well as snack and soda vending. Of course, the business also offers a wash-dry-fold service through its website.

Mega Express Laundry is open 24/7 all year long, and it is “quasi unattended,” according to the Ottens – as Kim Otten’s cell phone number is posted and, once again, immediate help can always be provided by the neighboring restaurant employees.

Steven Gould is a freelance writer based in the Chicago area.

Read the full article at http://digitaleditions.walsworthprintgroup.com/article/BUSINESS+PROFILE/1462930/168616/article.html.

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