As I’ve mentioned in a few past posts, those of us in business school really don’t think normally. Having found that there are a lot of good jobs in Nashua (versus my previously-narrow search in Boston), I started looking, out of curiosity, at real estate in Nashua. And I stumbled across this place, a home with an attached storefront.
It’s located in a very dense rural area, and seems like it may have a high percentage of renters in the neighborhood. So I thought a laundromat may do well. Of course, you also stock a lot of vending machines. Although labor really isn’t necessary, I’d probably want to employ one person to watch over things, and maybe to do laundry for people who want to drop stuff off, and to help customers who need it. I’ve read that it’s hard to keep good staff, but really, the job requirements are minimal–you have to be able to work a washing machine, be friendly to people, and watch over the store. You’d probably have a lot of free time, too, which could be spent watching TV, surfing the web, or whatever. And I don’t think I could bring myself to pay less than $8/hour or so.
It’s hard to find much information on commercially-available solutions, but a “water recycling” system could help cut costs, too–filtering the “waste water” and reusing it. Additionally, I’d sell plastic “gift cards,” at a small discount. ($50 for $45 or so.) The cards would also help everyone by not being coins, meaning that they wouldn’t have to lug around a pocket full of quarters, and I wouldn’t have to empty huge hoppers of quarters. (Although a lot of coin-based places seem to end up being “closed loops” of quarters–you put your bills into the change machine, get quarters, and put them into the washers or vending machines. So at the end of the week, I go in and move the quarters back into the change machine, and take the bills to the bank.) Selling the pre-paid cards, though, would generate a lot of cash up front, which could be put into a high-yield savings account. If you get a gift certificate for your birthday, how long until you spend it? Especially when it’s a “bulk” item (something you can spent on multiple visits), it may well be six months or longer before you’ve depleted it. Further, gift certificates also get forgotten and lost. Thus, if I sell $5,000 in gift certificates, I might only ever have an expense of, say, $4,500. And that $5,000 is in the bank earning me a decent chunk of interest.
They now make cheap security cameras that do resolutions like 1280×1024, versus the standard 640×480. And with things like ZoneMinder on Linux, it’s easy to set up an excellent camera system on the cheap.
I’d also pull in a cheap cable/DSL line and offer free WiFi for people doing laundry. Hopefully, while waiting for their laundry, they’d also buy some food from the vending machines. (As long as I have someone working there, actually, we could maybe serve fresh, hot food, like hot dogs or pizza!)
And of course, there are benefits to me besides the income. I wouldn’t need a washer and dryer in my home, since I’d have a dozen attached to my home. And I wouldn’t need to buy Internet access, since I’ve already got it at the laundromat. Plus, it’s occasionally a problem to have packages delivered to my house, as no one’s home and they might need a signature. Now I’ve got an employee who could collect them.
Of course, only after developing a killer business plan in my head did it occur to me that maybe I don’t want a home in a not-so-hot neighborood, especially one where I don’t have a driveway.