PlanetLaundry and Supplements Northeast Supplement Spring 2016 : Page 1

Supplement to the PlanetLaundry Magazine BUSINESS PROFILE BY STEVEN GOULD Spring 2016 | planetlaundry.com | coinlaundry.org ‘Why Not Get Involved in an Industry That’s Really Moving Forward?’ Former Healthcare Exec Finds Success with Award-Winning New Jersey Laundry Business As with many self-service laundry owners, operating Spin Doctor Laundromat in Hamilton, N.J. is a second career for Cathy Neilley. In addition to being a U.S. Navy Reservist, a majority of Cathy’s time has been spent in the healthcare industry. “I started out in laboratory science, working in hospitals in New York,” she explained. “Then, after going to graduate school, I began working in marketing for some of the Big Pharma companies. I was a product manager for the laboratory science business, where we sold large analyzers to dialysis centers and hospitals. I guess I’m kind of attracted to equipment.” Cathy also has experience with running a home-based business. She designed and sold tennis accessories, including sports bags. What’s more, she developed a product called the Fence Caddy, which enables tennis players to clip their rackets and bags onto any chain-link fence. “I’m a tennis fanatic,” she admitted. Eventually, Cathy began to look for other business opportunities – and ADVERTISERS Aristo Craft | 19 Coin Laundry Insurance | 17 Daniels Equipment | Back Cover Electrolux | 05 Gold Coin Laundry Equipment | 07 HK Laundry Equipment | 08 Laundrylux | Inside Front Cover Metropolitan Laundry Machinery Company, Inc | 15 Northeast Laundry Equipment | 14 Summit Laundry Equipment | 11 Super Laundry | 13 Yankee Equipment Systems, Inc | 06 continued on page 3

Business Profile

Steven Gould

‘Why Not Get Involved in an Industry That’s Really Moving Forward?’

Former Healthcare Exec Finds Success with Award-Winning New Jersey Laundry Business

As with many self-service laundry owners, operating Spin Doctor Laundromat in Hamilton, N.J. is a second career for Cathy Neilley.

In addition to being a U.S. Navy Reservist, a majority of Cathy’s time has been spent in the healthcare industry.

“I started out in laboratory science, working in hospitals in New York,” she explained. “Then, after going to graduate school, I began working in marketing for some of the Big Pharma companies. I was a product manager for the laboratory science business, where we sold large analyzers to dialysis centers and hospitals. I guess I’m kind of attracted to equipment.”

Cathy also has experience with running a home-based business. She designed and sold tennis accessories, including sports bags. What’s more, she developed a product called the Fence Caddy, which enables tennis players to clip their rackets and bags onto any chain-link fence.

“I’m a tennis fanatic,” she admitted.

Eventually, Cathy began to look for other business opportunities – and a self-service laundry was on her short list.

“I thought it was one of those types of businesses that was, for the most part, recession-proof,” she said. “I also thought it was a business I wouldn’t have to go back to school to learn how to operate; I could learn as I went along. Additionally, from what I understood, you could be successful with or without employees, depending upon your location and demographics.”

Given her background, Cathy also was impressed by the current state of technology used in today’s laundries.

“Technology has completely revolutionized the business,” she said. “It’s not just about coins anymore. There are so many different ways in which customers can pay, and the equipment does all of this fancy stuff. I thought to myself, ‘Why not get involved in an industry that’s really moving forward?’”

Neilley also liked the flexibility that owning a laundry could provide her. She realized that she could continue to volunteer at the local school and still successfully manage a laundry business.

However, she was surprised to discover that a number of commercial landlords simply didn’t want a laundromat as a tenant. “Even if they had vacancies, I was really shocked at how many landlords didn’t want to have a laundromat,” she marveled.

Fortunately, Cathy eventually found a suitable space within a strip mall that was large enough and met her desired criteria for population density. The location also included several apartment complexes and a good mix of other destination businesses close by.

Upon agreeing to a lease, the build out began. However, since the facility was not an existing laundromat, there was a snag or two. In fact, the construction process was delayed by nearly five months as a new electrical tower and box were required to be brought in by the local utility in order to get electricity to the store. Although Cathy’s original plan called for Spin Doctor to open within six months of the lease being signed, it actually took more than a year – and a $1.2 million investment – to finally get the doors open in September 2012.

The 3,000-square-foot store is located in a predominantly white, lower- to middle class area – again, with a number of apartment buildings in all directions. Spin Doctor shares the strip mall a Chinese restaurant, a pharmacy, a supermarket and a Dunkin’ Donuts location. In addition, there is a barber shop, a gas station, a Kmart and a couple of banks nearby in this fairly bustling part of town.

The Spin Doctor Laundromat is not the only laundry in the market. In fact, there are four other stores within a three-mile radius, with the nearest competitor just a half-block from Cathy’s laundromat.

However, according to Neilley, her laundry business sets itself apart from the rest by virtue of the fact that it’s physically larger; maintains later store hours; and boasts the latest in washer and dryer technology, including a texting feature that lets customers know when their laundry is completed. Spin Doctor Laundromat also has a dedicated children’s play area and a state-of-the-art video surveillance system for security.

In addition, Cathy is a fairly aggressive advertiser and marketer of her laundry business. And one of the reasons for this is due to all of those apartment buildings around her store.

“Many of the apartments have laundry rooms that are subsidized by the landlord or included in the rent, so in my mind, I’m competing with those laundry rooms more than the other stand-alone laundromats in the neighborhood,” she explained. “I give out a lot of coupons. I run promotions with giveaways several times a year. We also give away points on our loyalty cards, and we offer ‘Happy Hour’ prices once a week.”

Beyond being a large, clean destination to do one’s laundry, Spin Doctor Laundromat also offers a wash-dry-fold service for $1.00 per pound. This service has been well received within the community, with a lot of quality feedback on the work they do, according to Neilley. And this segment of the business has been growing due to the positive word of mouth that it’s been receiving, along with the “try-it-out” coupons Cathy distributes online to spread the word.

The store also has landed some smaller commercial accounts, and Cathy views this facet of her business as area with potential for growth. Current commercial clients include local doctors’ offices, an art school and a small hotel. However, Neilley sees additional commercial opportunities within the bed and breakfast and spa markets.

Spin Doctor Laundromat – which recently earned the 2015 Best of Trenton Award in the laundromats category – is open from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. seven days a week, with the last wash at 9:30 p.m. The store, which features a staff of six part-time attendants, also offers an arcade game, beverage and snack vending, and free Wi-Fi for customer convenience.

While Cathy feels her organizational skills and corporate experience are among the business strengths that have led to her success, she noted that her biggest asset is her husband, Brad.

“He’s very supportive,” she said. “I can bounce ideas off of him, and he’s a good mentor, especially when it comes to management.”

Among Neilley’s future goals are to franchise and license her Spin Doctor brand.

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

Read the full article at http://digitaleditions.walsworthprintgroup.com/article/Business+Profile/2401792/291363/article.html.

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