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Coin Laundry Innovators | Perfect Wash Express

BEACHSIDE LAUNDRY OFFERS VARIETY OF QUICK & FRIENDLY SERVICES

R&B Wire recently had the chance to interview Daniel Sofranko the Founder and Owner of Perfect Wash Express in Huntington Beach, California. Sofranko's outgoing personality, sharp attention to detail and deep understanding of the industry are part of what helps keep his facility ahead of the competition.
Perfect Wash Express Laundry Center
Image Courtesy of Daniel Sofranko
 R&B Wire: How did you get into the coin laundry business?

 

Sofranko: It was actually from a passing comment from a friend. Once I began to research this industry (thank you CLA), and the renaissance it had undertaken, I realized I shared a lot of chemistry with it. The industry offered me the opportunity to use a simple business model to deliver an experience far and above what my customers would be expecting.

This industry grew up in the 1970’s, but has been growing wiser since the 2000’s. Leading the efforts are the machine manufacturers answering the wails of laundry owners bearing the burdens of increasing utility costs. Washers, dryers and water heating has had to become very efficient and thus more effective. With this type of technology shift, the owners have also become smarter and much more hands on. Nowadays, an increasing number of stores are offering drop-off and delivery services, which allows them to serve a wider range of residential and commercial customers from a greater distance. Store build outs are going luxurious. The days of building an unattended, laminate-covered vending machine with a roof over it are gone. Laundries are full retail businesses now, with a full staff, a wider range of service and customer service! These stores are offering granite folding surfaces, flat screen TV’s, massage chairs, juke boxes, personal safety and even clean bathrooms! This industry renaissance represents a shift from the norm in a well-established and saturated industry (which typically equates to lower margins), to a new frontier on which a new breed of laundry owners get to “clean up” the old ways and expand the industry in a new and exciting direction, while still enjoying the spoils of a well-established industry with smooth, predictable revenues. If they do it right, and understand what they are getting into, new laundry owners can enter the industry at the top!

R&B Wire: Many store owners take a lot of pride in running a ‘green’ business or 'sustainable' business.   How do you feel about this ‘green’ movement and what specific sustainability practices does your facility engage in?

 

Sofranko: I take a lot of pride in owning one of the most efficient laundromats around. I’m not someone who touts “green” a whole lot, but I do believe in doing my small part to not waste resources, time or energy. In my store I employ high-speed, soft-mount washers and top-of-the line dryers. I use a tank-less water heater, boasting efficiency above 90%, compact fluorescent lighting and my favorite: solar tubes. Another laundromat owner told me about solar tubes. These round skylights take in light through a dome on my roof, and defuse natural light into my store below with no hot spots.  During the long summer days, my solar tubes provide enough soothing natural lighting not have to use ANY overhead electrical lighting until dusk.  Right before dusk, it’s really cool because the light makes you feel like you're outside. We also have recycling bins and policies in place to minimize wasted products or energies.

 

Inside Perfect Wash Express

Image Courtesy of Daniel Sofranko

 I don’t feel you can have a conversation about a “green” business without discussing the bottom line. There are a lot of great ideas on the horizon. Many ideas are not quite mainstream yet, or even obtainable for small businesses. What I think is important are the practices that make business sense. For example, my high-speed, soft-mount washers cost over 20% more to acquire over comparable hard-mount washers. My throughput is increased by up to 50% on a busy day, and my utility costs (as a percentage of revenue - self-serve only) are about 11-12% which puts my store in the top 1% industry wide! My solar tubes came with a price tag of around $5,000 which should pay back in about 5-6 years. These eco-friendly practices all came with price tags, but they will also come with an immediate partial payback and an acceptable break-even period. These are the practices that businesses will invest in. It’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy of new ideas and technologies, but at the end of the day, there still must be a surviving business to pay the bills.

R&B Wire: What makes your facility stand out from your competitors?

 

Sofranko: First and foremost it’s the people. It’s the wonderful customer service my customers receive from my attendants that makes them feel comfortable. Then it’s the state-of-the-art equipment (that made financial sense to me) that actually cleans their clothes better-- and faster! Our customers know that they will spend less time doing their laundry in my store and they will leave with cleaner laundry than expected. We go the extra mile to make sure that everyone is comfortable using our machines, our card payment system and we are going to keep them and their laundry safe, just by being there. Last but not least, they are using the cleanest store around! My staff keeps the facility sparkling clean, which shows our customers that we care.

 

Retail Laundry Store

State of the Art Equipment
Images Courtesy of Daniel Sofranko
R&B Wire: Where do you see your business in 5 years?

 

Sofranko: Oh man, my favorite question. From day one I’ve been building a system; a multi-store system with a robust delivery route. I enjoy the store front aspect of my business and I desire to expand into about a hand full of stores, topped off with a small business person. commercial laundry as its hub. The warehouse location will serve many of our large commercial clients, as well as some larger ones we don’t have the capacity to serve now. This will also relieve some of the fluff & fold pressure from the store fronts as well. The idea is to never be a factory laundry because I like people too much. I will continue to have the stores immersed in their communities. Those stores will be good citizens and their markets will have the best option of where to wash their own clothes. 

R&B Wire: Which R&B Wire carts do you have in your facility and what kind of impact have they had on your business?

 

Sofranko: I’ll tell you what, those carts have played no small role in our identity. I have had the displeasure of using inferior laundry carts at a commercial customer’s facility. That’s when I really started to notice all the attention to detail that R&B puts into their R&D. They roll smoothly, they don’t creak and I don’t fear for my life. Presently I use the 100E carts in my store. I have them with the blue vinyl coated baskets and gray powder coated bases. These colors help me match the carts with the identity of my store and also serve as an extra layer of protection against the corrosive salt air in my beach front store.

On each cart, I have affixed small bicycle license plates with the name of that particular cart. We have Danny & Rebecca (after my fiancé and me), Vincent (one of our customers), Angela (named after a customer and a great Mötley Crüe song), Nina (after my beloved auntie), Carlos (after the taco shop owner next door) and Jackson, my 10 year old second cousin, who lost his battle with a brain tumor a few years ago.

 

R&B Wire Vinyl Coated BasketsImage Courtesy of Daniel Sofranko

The attention that R&B pays to their carts is a nice touch, but their durability is also vital. I allow my customers to take our carts out to their cars, and in some very nearby cases, home and back. So they have to hold up to a tougher life than just being confined to the inside of the store.

Recently I acquired an Antimicrobial “Big Dog” Cart, which has a full-sized license plate: BIG BERTHA.  We got our first BERTHA for our commercial laundry operation. But there are those customers who come in and ask to use her specifically, and by name. Our latest BIG BERTHA has barely shown any age with that antimicrobial coating. She’s still shiny and clean. When I place my next cart order, I will keep those blue vinyl baskets because of the identity and the color they add to my store. But those bases and poles will have to be in that antimicrobial coating! Don’t tell R&B but I don’t foresee ever having to replace those, because they seem so much stronger, shhhhh.

I also employ an Antimicrobial Vinyl Basket Truck which stays at one of my commercial client’s businesses. That basket truck shaves about 20 minutes off my delivery time every week by reducing the number of trips to the van. Plus it’s an attractive item that I’ve stenciled my logo onto and wheel it across the street with pride. The antimicrobial material is more than a luxury with this basket truck as it sits in a service corridor and doesn’t seem to get grimy. It’s very easy to clean every so often as well. I plan on buying more of those as well as my commercial customer base grows.

 

Perfect Wash Express Van

Image Courtesy of Daniel Sofranko
R&B Wire: What have you done to adapt to the trend of facilities using larger machines?

 

Sofranko: BIGGER IS BETTER! This is a trend that the industry’s renaissance has developed. There’s a percentage of my customer (about 1/3 according to the CLA’s customer survey) that have access to their own laundry machines, but come to only use our 4 or 6-Loader machines for larger items. The vast majority of my customers have learned how they can save money, in addition to the time and detergent they were already saving, by loading the larger machine with more of their laundry and using them for what they were built for. R&B’s larger size carts (such as the "Standard Laundry Carts," which other customers would not be too happy about). Now they just grab a 'Big Dog' and get to work.

My 4-loader machines are by far the workhorses of my store, boasting usage numbers (T.P.D. – Turns Per Day) far in excess of industry averages. The 6-loaders, overall, are right behind them, and, as of late, just ahead of them, and growing. Perfect Wash - Express Laundry Center can boast having the most 5+ load machines within a 10 mile radius. And our customers, some who come from even further than that, have come to rely on these machines to help expedite one of their most dreaded weekly chores. In future stores (space allowing) I’m looking forward to installing Continental Girbau’s 90 lb. soft mounts, or even some 125’s!
 5+ Load MachinesImage Courtesy of Daniel Sofranko

When I’m training someone who may not have any previous experience in this industry, I always tell them to watch for when a mother comes in with a mountain of laundry. I say, “Just stand back and watch, because they know about the large machines already, they know how to use them for all they’re worth. Those busy mothers know where they can go to get all of their laundry done in a short period of time, allowing them to move on to the next chore of their day. They don’t need our help, they just want to know where the card kiosk is and for us to stay out of their way!" It’s marvelous actually.

R&B Wire: If some of our readers have questions or comments about your facility, what's the best way for them to contact you?

They can email me at dan@cleandan.com or visit my website- PerfectWashHB.com

 

Is your coin laundry facility eco-friendly or cutting edge? Email your facility’s details and images to grant@rbwire.com for a chance to be featured on R&B Wire’s Coin Laundry Innovators!

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