PlanetLaundry and Supplements Southeast Supplement Spring 2015 : Page 1

Supplement to the PlanetLaundry Magazine B USINESS PROFILE S TEV EN G OU L D Spring 2015 | planetlaundry.com | coinlaundry.org ‘I Just Though t It Would Be Cool to Own One’ Serial Entrepreneur Finds His Niche in the Laundry Industry Len Bazile, Jr, the owner of Dirty Laundry Linen Service in Kenner, La., is no stranger to owning and operating a small business. In fact, he is also quite experienced at building and growing them from the ground up. Aside from spending time in the bar, restaurant and catering businesses, as well as growing a couple of successful high-end catering operations, Bazile also has operated an office supply business, dabbled in real estate appraising and, in the after-math of Hurricane Katrina, worked in the construction business. “I’ve pretty much been self-employed since I was 19 years old,” Bazile said, adding that growing small businesses is something he considers to be one of his strengths. “Just knowing all of the ins and outs and what to expect when starting out – what trouble spots to look for and being familiar with solutions really helps.” No one can argue with Bazile’s success – who, thus far, has grown Dirty Laundry Linen Service into a three-location chain. Even with his past success in other businesses, he explained that there was always something about the self-service laundry industry that beckoned. ADVERTISERS Coin Laundry Insurance | 11 Laundrylux | Inside Front Cover SLM Commercial Laundry Products | 06 Statewide | 07 T&L Equipment Sales Company Inc | 04 SaveMore Commercial Laundry Equipment | Back Cover continued on page 3

BUSINESS PROFILE

Steven Gould


‘I Just Thought It Would Be Cool to Own One’
Serial Entrepreneur Finds His Niche in the Laundry Industry

Len Bazile, Jr, the owner of Dirty Laundry Linen Service in Kenner, La., is no stranger to owning and operating a small business. In fact, he is also quite experienced at building and growing them from the ground up.

Aside from spending time in the bar, restaurant and catering businesses, as well as growing a couple of successful high-end catering operations, Bazile also has operated an office supply business, dabbled in real estate appraising and, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, worked in the construction business.

“I’ve pretty much been self-employed since I was 19 years old,” Bazile said, adding that growing small businesses is something he considers to be one of his strengths. “Just knowing all of the ins and outs and what to expect when starting out – what trouble spots to look for and being familiar with solutions really helps.”

No one can argue with Bazile’s success – who, thus far, has grown Dirty Laundry Linen Service into a three-location chain.

Even with his past success in other businesses, he explained that there was always something about the selfservice laundry industry that beckoned.

“I used a coin laundry when I was in college,” Bazile said. “And I always liked them. Honestly, I just thought it would be cool to own one.”

However, like so many before him, the flexible schedule that a laundry affords also attracted Bazile.

“I realized that in the bar and catering businesses, I was working while everybody else was having fun,” he laughed, “Friday and Saturday nights, Super Bowl parties and everything else. I was working and catering to the people who were having fun. I thought a coin laundry would offer me a little more freedom and flexibility, especially on the weekends.”

Bazile opened the first Dirty Laundry Linen Service in August 2006 – but not without performing his due diligence. After seeing an ad in the newspaper, he went to the store and watched and learned for two months.

“I was trying to figure the numbers,” he explained. “It was mainly a toploader store with a couple of frontloaders, and I couldn’t figure out how to make it with these people coming in and doing one batch of clothes in a $1.25 toploader and then spending another $1.25 on a dryer – that’s only $2.50. So, I was skeptical at first. I even bought a book from Entrepreneur magazine on how to own and operate a coin laundry.

“I finally convinced the owner to let me come in when she was doing a dump of all the coins in the machines and, after that, I took a lease and bought the store.”

For roughly $75,000, Bazile was now a laundry owner.

“Believe it or not, it was one of the best business transactions I’ve done to date,” he noted.

However, his first day in business didn’t go as smoothly as he probably would have hoped. On the evening he closed on the sale and took possession of the store, the couple who had been working there abruptly quit. Since Bazile was still working at his construction job, he called the previous owner for any suggestions she could offer.

“She sent her son over, who had been managing the store, with $800 in quarters to get us going – and he helped me run the store during the day for the first three weeks,” he said. “I would come in during the evenings until I found someone to cover that shift, and then we kind of found our niche. Today, the store has become a community-based laundry for the Hispanic population.”

Dirty Laundry Linen Service is located in a working class area with several apartment complexes from which to draw customers. There also are a few neighboring businesses – including a convenience store, a nail salon, a lawn mower business and a tire shop. And, for extra security, the local police station just happens to be situated directly across the street.

As far as competition, there are four other laundries within a two-mile radius of Dirty Laundry Linen Service. However, according to Bazile, his store is “a bit off of the main drag and stands apart from the others.”

Although Bazile does purchase some advertising, he admitted that he likes to rely heavily on positive word of mouth and his business’s strong reputation. He added that he’ll run a full-page advertisement twice a year in the local Spanish-language newspapers.

“There are two very popular Hispanic papers in the area, and I’ll run an ad in each one,” he said.

Beyond catering to the Hispanic market, another major way in which Dirty Laundry stands out from the crowd is through its ancillary services, which include phone charging stations and a translation service – as well as enabling customers to pay bills, wire money, get money orders, make copies and send faxes right from the store.

What’s more, the 3,000-square-foot laundry sells snacks and drinks, and features three televisions and WiFi access.

“On the weekends, our customers can do just about everything here, except their grocery shopping,” Bazile said.

In addition, Dirty Laundry offers a wash-dry-fold service for 99 cents per pounds, with a 10-pound minimum. Moreover, approximately 60 percent of the store’s overall business comes from its commercial accounts. This booming segment of the business began when Bazile landed a catering account, which led to another and then eventually to some hotel accounts. Also, some of the larger commercial laundries in the area have begun to refer business to Bazile, if an account is too small for them.

Dirty Laundry Linen Service is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The store is fully attended with two full-time employees and two part-time attendants.

Since buying his first store in 2006, Bazile opened a second laundry in 2010 and a third location in 2011. The second store was a complete gut with all new equipment, while the third laundry also features a convenience store – however, the C-store likely won’t be permanent, according to Bazile.

It seems this serial entrepreneur has found his niche in the laundry business.

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

Read the full article at http://digitaleditions.walsworthprintgroup.com/article/BUSINESS+PROFILE/1937402/247464/article.html.

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