PlanetLaundry and Supplements Midwest Supplement Fall 2015 : Page 1

Supplement to the PlanetLaundry Magazine BUSINESS PROFILE STEVEN GOULD Fall 2015 | planetlaundry.com | coinlaundry.org Doing It His Way Michigan Laundry Owner Turns Around the Family Laundry Business Marcus Yono, the owner of the Millennium Laundry in Monroe, Mich., may be a young man, but he has a wealth of experience when it comes to serving the public. The Yono family has been the owners of grocery and liquor stores for most of Marcus’ life. “I’ve been working in my dad’s store since I was a little kid,” he said. So, how did Marcus make the leap from groceries to laundry? “When I was about 15, my dad decided to open a laundromat,” Yono explained. “He asked my brother and me which one of us was going to run it for him. I thought this is my chance to show up my brother, so I said that I would run it. Of course, I was a typical teenager and didn’t have the experience. “I started operating the one laundromat, and I absolutely hated it. I was 16 years old, and I wanted to be hanging out with my friends. But, after high school, I started to like it, at least a little bit. I had plans to go to college, but at the same time, my dad was opening another location, and it wasn’t doing real well. He had taken this location and remodeled it, and people stopped coming through the doors. They were afraid of the new card system he had put in. Plus, there were three other locations in town, and this place had a bad reputation as far as the help.” After Yono’s senior year of high school, his father made him an offer. ADVERTISERS BDS Laundry Systems | 10 Coin Laundry Association | 11 Coin Laundry Insurance | 13 Coin-O-Matic | Back Cover D&M Equipment | 07 EJ Thomas | 13 Laundrylux | 02 Loomis Brothers | 09 Midwest Laundries | 05 continued on page 3

BUSINESS PROFILE

Steven Gould

Doing It His Way
Michigan Laundry Owner Turns Around the Family Laundry Business

Marcus Yono, the owner of the Millennium Laundry in Monroe, Mich., may be a young man, but he has a wealth of experience when it comes to serving the public. The Yono family has been the owners of grocery and liquor stores for most of Marcus’ life.

“I’ve been working in my dad’s store since I was a little kid,” he said.

So, how did Marcus make the leap from groceries to laundry?

“When I was about 15, my dad decided to open a laundromat,” Yono explained. “He asked my brother and me which one of us was going to run it for him. I thought this is my chance to show up my brother, so I said that I would run it. Of course, I was a typical teenager and didn’t have the experience.

“I started operating the one laundromat, and I absolutely hated it. I was 16 years old, and I wanted to be hanging out with my friends. But, after high school, I started to like it, at least a little bit. I had plans to go to college, but at the same time, my dad was opening another location, and it wasn’t doing real well. He had taken this location and remodeled it, and people stopped coming through the doors. They were afraid of the new card system he had put in. Plus, there were three other locations in town, and this place had a bad reputation as far as the help.”

After Yono’s senior year of high school, his father made him an offer.

“He said he really needed me to run this laundromat,” Yono explained. “He said, ‘I know you’ve got your hands full and you have plans, but I need you – and I’ll give you whatever you want.’”

The only thing Yono wanted was autonomy.

“I told him that he had to let me do it my way, with no interference,” he said.

Marcus knew that his father had a lot invested in the store and he didn’t want to let him down. He spent the entire summer operating the store every day to turn things around. The endeavor was successful, and he has been there ever since. Over time, the family business has amicably been split with his brother, and after spending time in the grocery store and operating two laundry locations, Yono has settled in to this one store.

Having worked in both the grocery and laundry businesses, Yono said one thing he enjoys about the laundry business is the flexibility to make his own hours. However, the way Yono runs Millennium Laundry, the business is not as flexible for him as it could be, seeing as he prefers to be very hands-on with the store.

Another thing Yono really likes about the laundry business is the fact that his presence there can make a difference.

“I don’t mean to demean anybody; however, I see a lot of laundromats where the owner opens the door and that’s it,” he explained. “Maybe they hire someone to run it, but it’s not the same. I see a lot of weaknesses in other stores, and I can exploit those weaknesses by making them my strengths. If there is a dirty laundromat down the street, I’m going to be the clean laundromat up the street. If their store is unattended, mine will have attendants that are on point and know what is going on. If you don’t have signage, I’m going to make sure that my signage is beautiful and up to date.”

In addition, Yono thinks the laundry business enables him to use his past experience to his advantage against the competition. He added that it’s also a matter of pride. He wants to be involved and be there for his customers.

“It’s just the way I was raised,” he explained. “I want to make my customers happy. I could just sit back and let a manager run things and still make money, but I want to make money a certain way. When people come to us, they are generally surprised, and they really thank us for making laundry day a pleasant experience. And we really do appreciate that – it does make it all worth it.”

Comparing the liquor store to the laundromat, Yono said, “You don’t have to drink, but you have to do laundry. And, because you are forced to do that and you have to come in, we want to make it as pleasant an experience as we can. There are two other laundromats down the street from me, and if someone chooses to come to me, I consider that a compliment and I want to make sure we repay them with a good experience.”

Despite the nearby competition, Yono tries to distinguish Millennium Laundry from the rest by always being available.

“The door to my office is literally always open,” he said. “I’m always on the floor, either walking around checking on people or doing a repair. Even if I’m not there customers know they can always reach me. We have a large web presence, and we’re on social media. My personal email is posted right on the wall.”

The biggest obstacle Yono faced after taking over Millennium Laundry, which opened in 2001, and putting his own stamp of ownership on the business was getting customers to accept the laundry’s card system.

“Back in 2001, people were used to quarters,” he explained. “They came in with handfuls of quarters. I had to chase people down and say, ‘Come back! It’s really easy. Let me show you how this works.’”

Today, Millennium Laundry has a solid customer base, ranging from lower-income to upper-income clientele. The store is a stand-alone building, prominently situated near a Walgreen’s and a Kmart. The laundry’s business neighbors also include a bank, an oil change facility, a tire store and fast food restaurants.

There also are two other self-service laundries within a mile of Yono’s store, as well as two drycleaners.

“I know some people say that it's just a laundromat, but I want it not just to feel like home, I want it to feel better than home,” Yono said. “I want my televisions to be nicer. I want my furniture to be nicer, not just comfortable. I don't want people to worry whether a machine or a folding table is going to be clean.

“Beyond that, we have sanitizing wipes available, so customers can just help themselves. We also have outlets and USB ports everywhere that are easily accessible, so people can charge their phones. We have a strong Wifi network. I just want to make it as worry-free as possible.”

The laundry also offers wash-dry-fold service for $1.05 per pound for bulk laundry and $1.79 per pound for commercial laundry. Specialty items are priced by the piece. Millennium currently services 10 commercial accounts, which represent approximately 20 percent of the store’s dropoff business. There also are a number of businesses that drop off laundry at Millennium on a “pay as you go” basis.

The 4,000-square-foot store is open from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. during the week, and 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on weekends. The business – which also features two televisions, along with snack and beverage vending – employs five attendants, two of which are full-time staffers.

Yono no doubt enjoys being a laundry owner and says he would love to add another store, if and when the right opportunity presents itself.

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

Read the full article at http://digitaleditions.walsworthprintgroup.com/article/BUSINESS+PROFILE/2226458/266873/article.html.

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