PlanetLaundry and Supplements West 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 Sure Bet Former Insurance Executive Takes Over Two Nevada Laundries Simultaneously Self-service laundry owners are a diverse group with a wide range of backgrounds. Sure, there are some family-owned operations that are third-or even fourth-generation businesses. But many of today’s owners were simply looking for a profitable and stable business where they could spend some time, get to know their customers and provide a service to their neighborhoods. Such was the case for Gene Sauguinetti, the owner of two Duds ’N Suds stores in Reno, Nev. “I sold property and casualty insurance for more than 20 years in the northern Illinois area,” Sauguinetti explained. “I ran my own agency, as well as a sales consulting business. When I sold my insurance brokerage, I went to work for the company that bought it; however, that required me to drive and travel a great deal of the time, and it began to wear on me.” Sauguinetti was looking for a business to start rather than purchase when he came across Duds 'N Suds. It had recently been sold, but the deal had fallen apart. “So, I stepped in,” he said. “I thought it would be a great way to have a stable revenue source and allow me to retire from the insurance business. I could also see that we were in a recession, and I thought a coin laundry might be somewhat recession-resistant.” So, in July 2010, Sauguinetti closed on the sale and became the owner of two 3,500-square-foot Duds 'N Suds, one on the north continued on page 3 ADVERTISERS Coin Laundry Insurance | Back Cover Continental Girbau West | 05 Wascomat | 02

BUSINESS PROFILE

Steven Gould


A Sure Bet

Former Insurance Executive Takes Over Two Nevada Laundries Simultaneously

Self-service laundry owners are a diverse group with a wide range of backgrounds.

Sure, there are some family-owned operations that are third- or even fourth-generation businesses. But many of today’s owners were simply looking for a profitable and stable business where they could spend some time, get to know their customers and provide a service to their neighborhoods.

Such was the case for Gene Sauguinetti, the owner of two Duds ’N Suds stores in Reno, Nev.

“I sold property and casualty insurance for more than 20 years in the northern Illinois area,” Sauguinetti explained. “I ran my own agency, as well as a sales consulting business. When I sold my insurance brokerage, I went to work for the company that bought it; however, that required me to drive and travel a great deal of the time, and it began to wear on me.”

Sauguinetti was looking for a business to start rather than purchase when he came across Duds 'N Suds. It had recently been sold, but the deal had fallen apart.

“So, I stepped in,” he said. “I thought it would be a great way to have a stable revenue source and allow me to retire from the insurance business. I could also see that we were in a recession, and I thought a coin laundry might be somewhat recession-resistant.”

So, in July 2010, Sauguinetti closed on the sale and became the owner of two 3,500-square-foot Duds 'N Suds, one on the north side of town and one on the south. The process took slightly longer than usual, because Sauguinetti was required to take an extra legal step.

“I had to get my gaming license,” he explained. “We have slot machines. Actually, I’m the only coin laundry that does. We were grandfathered in, so you can’t get a gaming license for a laundromat anymore – and that certainly gives us a little bit of an advantage.”

Once Sauguinetti took over, he also found that there were a few more maintenance issues that he had not anticipated.

“The previous owner had apparently lost interest, and most of the maintenance work was shoddy or, quite frankly, unsafe,” he said. “When I found the stores for sale, part of my due diligence was to talk to a few laundromat owners and get an idea of the business. I didn’t just jump in blindly.

“For example, I knew that the north store was very old. Most of the machines went back to the mid-1980s, so I knew we would be doing a major rehab, which we did in June and July of 2011. I replaced the water heater in my south store. We had an electrical fire because somebody bypassed a safety switch. But I found a fantastic plumber in the process. Always go with a licensed contractor, it’s cheaper in the long run. I also did some demographic research to make sure that the stores were viable going forward.”

Sauguinetti’s two stores are in somewhat different neighborhoods. The north Reno store is in a lower-income area with a lot of apartments and manufactured housing. The store sits in a small strip mall with various other small retail stores. This location is also fairly close to the university, but Sauguinetti said he has a hard time attracting students.

“All of the dorms have their own laundry services,” he noted. “Even though our machines are newer, bigger and faster, the kids seem hesitant to leave the dorm. It’s something that we have been working on, but it’s a hard sell.”

The south Reno store is in a mixed area. It sits in a small shopping center directly across the street from the major mall in town. There are plenty of fast-food restaurants, a jewelry store and other retail shops. It’s also surrounded by a number of apartment complexes. This laundry is also located near a lot of new growth is in the city. Several of the newer homes are within a few miles of the store. There are also a number of retired residents in the area. As a result, Sauguinetti gets a lot of drop-off laundry business at this location.

Sauguinetti tries to promote his stores with some type of marketing at all times.

“We always have something going,” he explained. “We just haven't found the right mix yet.”

Sauguinetti has tried advertising in the student newspaper, as well as placing some radio spots; however, the most effective promotional effort thus far has been a local coupon book.

He also has been working with the local hotels and the convention center. Being located only about a half-mile from the convention center, the store received a good deal of out-of- town business from conventioneers and sports teams.

Both of Sauguinetti’s Duds ‘N Suds stores are attended, opening at 7:00 a.m. and with the last load at 9:00 p.m. Half of the business’ employees are full-time staffers. And both laundries offer wash-dry-fold services, with all regular clothing costing $1 per pound, and heavier items and blankets a $2 per pound; comforters and sleeping bags are $3 per pound.

Word-of-mouth advertising for the wash-dry-fold service has proven very effective for attracting customers, according to Sauguinetti.

In addition, Sauguinetti also seeks out commercial accounts. Although there were a few left over from the previous owner, new accounts are always welcome. Gene enjoys commercial work, because the clients are different from his typical self-service customers – he feels he can better understand them on a business level, what their needs are and how to retain them as customers.

“If a retail customer leaves, you may never know why,” he reasoned.

Along with the quality laundry services, Sauguinetti’s Duds ’N Suds locations provide other amenities as well. Of course, there is the gaming. But there is also a snack bar that sells beer and wine, soda, hot dogs, nachos, pretzels and other snacks. In addition, both stores offer arcade and video games.

“It’s the old formula of a lot of customer service and knowing your customers by their first name – making it a nice place to go where everybody knows your name,” he said. “The gaming is an attraction for the tourists, not so much the rest of us. We work very hard to keep the stores clean and all of the machines up and running. We have high-quality machines and a high-quality staff that really works to make the customer feel welcome.”

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

Read the full article at http://digitaleditions.walsworthprintgroup.com/article/BUSINESS+PROFILE/1462926/168624/article.html.

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