PlanetLaundry and Supplements Midwest Supplement Fall 2016 : Page 1
Supplement to the PlanetLaundry Magazine BUSINESS PROFILE BY STEVEN GOULD Fall 2016 | planetlaundry.com | coinlaundry.org A Retirement Plan Ohio Couple Looks to the Future, Breathes New Life into Long-Time Laundry Business Ask any group of self-service laundry owners their reasons for getting into the industry and you’ll likely get a number of different responses. For Matt and Amy Knueven – the owners of the Soap-N-Sudz Laundry in Urbana, Ohio – it was just that… a number of different reasons. “We were looking for something long-term so that, when we were older, we could have something for retirement that wasn’t too demanding on us as far as eight-to 10-hour days,” Amy explained. “We could still run it behind the scenes and hire people. “Plus, there was a huge need for a laundromat in our hometown,” she added. Of course, there also is the ﬂexibility advantage that owning a vended laundry can offer. This is important because Matt and Amy keep rather busy schedules. Amy holds a bachelor’s continued on page 3 ADVERTISERS: BDS Laundry Systems | 07, Coin Laundry Insurance | 15, Clean Wash Laundry Systems | 11, Coin-O-Matic | Back Cover, D&M Equipment | 05, EJ Thomas Co | 13, John Morris Equipment Company | 13, KeeWes Equipment Co | 09, Laundrylux | Inside Front Cover,
A Retirement Plan
Ohio Couple Looks to the Future, Breathes New Life into Long-Time Laundry Business
Ask any group of self-service laundry owners their reasons for getting into the industry and you’ll likely get a number of different responses.
For Matt and Amy Knueven – the owners of the Soap-NSudz Laundry in Urbana, Ohio – it was just that… a number of different reasons.
“We were looking for something long-term so that, when we were older, we could have something for retirement that wasn’t too demanding on us as far as eight- to 10-hour days,” Amy explained. “We could still run it behind the scenes and hire people.
“Plus, there was a huge need for a laundromat in our hometown,” she added.
Of course, there also is the flexibility advantage that owning a vended laundry can offer. This is important because Matt and Amy keep rather busy schedules. Amy holds a bachelor’s degree in business management/human services, and she is also a cosmetologist.
“For the last 20 years, I’ve cut hair for inmates at a jail,” she noted. “I’m also a case manager for our local mental health agency. My role has sort of evolved, as far as case management; and I’m running a parenting class for our local school system through the mental health agency. And my husband is a service technician, so he’s busy, too.”
Once the couple decided that a self-service laundry would fit their current hectic schedules and future retirement needs, they began the search process.
“An opportunity came along to buy an existing store,” Amy explained. “It had been in business for more than 30 years, but it just wasn’t properly managed and maintained. So, when it came on the market, we jumped on it.”
The Knuevens, who purchased the 2,400-square-foot store outright and own the property, officially opened the doors to Soap-N-Sudz Laundry as their own in December 2011. They’ve since completely remodeled the building inside and out, as well as upgrading the laundry equipment. However, Amy added that their store – as any veteran laundry owner knows – is a continual work in progress and an ongoing investment.
“The whole process, from the time we decided to buy the laundry, has been about six years,” Amy laughed. “We’re still continuing to make improvements to the business every day.”
All in all, the transition to owning their own laundry business has gone smoothly for Amy and Matt, with only a couple of real surprises. Amy pointed out that they found some rather interesting items in the attic of the building once they took over.
“Apparently, in the 1970s this building was a Burger Chef fast-food restaurant,” Amy said. “We found old fryers, some classic promotional items, old Pepsi bottles and a lot of other neat stuff.”
What wasn’t as neat were the hot water issues the couple faced when they first took over the laundromat. The original boiler was too small, so the Knuevens replaced it – and six months later it broke down. They then purchased another water heating system, which also didn’t last either. As it turned out, the store’s water contained so much calcium, Amy and Matt had to purchase a dual-tank water softener, which solved the problem.
Over the last six years, Soap-N-Sudz has built a fairly diverse clientele.
“There are several apartment complexes in the area,” Amy noted. “Urbana is a town of about 11,000, so we see a good mix of clientele. We’ll get successful business people who are single and living in the nearby apartments; they’ll come in once a week for the convenience of getting all of their laundry done quickly. And we’ll also get the less fortunate who come here because they can’t afford their own washers and dryers.”
To strengthen their customer base, Matt and Amy will run occasional newspaper ads, as well as maintaining a presence on social media. They’ve also created a holiday tradition of giving out customer appreciation gifts. However, the business’ primary source of promoting itself is still positive word-of-mouth advertising.
The store is located in a busy business district, near a Walmart, a supermarket and a number of fast-food restaurants.
There also are two other self-service laundries in Urbana – one on the north side of town and the other on the south side, with Soap-N-Sudz in between. But Amy admitted she doesn’t think about her competitors as much as she concerns herself with what’s going on at her laundry.
“We offer a clean, safe environment,” she explained. “There’s a homey feeling in our store. The building is air-conditioned, and we’re very customer-oriented and customer-friendly.”
Soap-N-Sudz offers a wash-dry-fold service; however, it’s by appoint, and the Knuevens don’t advertise it.
The unattended store – which is open around the clock, 365 days a year – features soda and snack vending, as well as drive-through purified water vending for 25 cents per gallon. In addition, Amy and Matt are in the process of installing two car vacuums in one corner of the store’s parking lot.
“I always ask myself, if I were a customer, what would I want, within reason?” Amy said.
As for owning more self-service laundries in the future, Matt and Amy is clearly open to the prospect of it.
“It's been discussed,” she said. “It’s just a matter of where, when, why and all of those little details.”
But, once those details are worked out, don’t be surprised to see additional Soap-N-Sudz Laundry locations in the future.
Steven Gould is a freelance writer based in the Chicago area.
Read the full article at http://digitaleditions.walsworthprintgroup.com/article/Business+Profile/2541254/323439/article.html.