Updating your laundry facility is smart for resident retention, but the process doesn’t have to be an overhaul. With immediate, efficient updates, your laundry facility can save you money and accommodate tenants.
Here are five tips for updating your laundry facility to make it more efficient and cost effective:
1.Purchase high quality now, save on maintenance costs later
When upgrading machines, you have a choice between going cheap with inexpensive, low quality machines or investing in higher quality equipment that cost more. This is not an area where you want to cut corners, says Andrew Propst, president and managing partner at Park Place Property Management in Meridian, Idaho. His suggestion: invest in higher quality machines initially to save money in the long term. You may pay more up front, but if you don’t “in the long run, you’ll be spending three times as much on maintaining a lower quality machine,” Propst says. “because they are used so frequently.”
2.Get help with the update
Trevor Henson, co-founder of First Light Property Management, Inc. in Manhattan Beach, Calif. suggests partnering with a third-party company to update your laundry facilities and switch out your old machines. “About every three years, a local outsourcing company switches out our machines to be more efficient,” he says. That company, Henson says, also handles the coin collection, repairs, cleans and updates all machines, which provides scheduled, dependable services with little to no hassle for management. To find a reliable laundry service provider, Henson recommends getting a referral from other property management companies or a general contractor.
3.Find the right ratio
The amount of machines located in your laundry facility ultimately depends on how many residents live on the property. Both Propst and Henson suggest having a ratio of one washer and one dryer per 10 residents. For Propst, adding extra machines drastically cut back on inconvenient wait time for tenants. At a 60-resident building he manages in downtown Portland, he originally only had four washers and four dryers. “It was a constant battle,” Propst says, “but adding two more machines solved our problem and boosted our earnings.”
Additionally, deciding what to charge tenants for machine use affects your revenue. Propst suggests doing market research before setting a per-load price. “Check out what it costs to go to the local Laundromat or other complexes in the neighborhood,” he says. “Switching over to coin-operated machines is a good choice because it’s simple to change the price based on how the market changes—just take out the stopper and you can go from 75 cents to a dollar easily.”
4.Add more efficient lighting and ventilation
Washers and dryers are only one aspect of your laundry facility outflow. Updating your lighting and ventilation systems will cut costs while conserving energy. “Replace light switches with timers,” Propst says. “You can buy a timer or digital one-touch to save energy. Choose how long lights can stay on at one time.” Then, he suggests, having an exhaust fan timed to the lights so when the dryer runs the exhaust also runs.
Henson adds that keeping the facility properly ventilated will also conserve energy while providing a more comfortable environment for residents. “No one is going to do laundry in the summertime when it’s stuffy and hot in there,” he says. “Make sure dryer exhausts are properly vented and lint traps are cleaned. If tenants are comfortable and easily getting their laundry done, you are getting your time and money’s worth.”
To make sure the dryers are properly ventilated, Hen son says to make sure the dryer vents – from the dryer to the outside - are no longer than 30 feet, with at least five fee for each “elbow.”
5. Improve security and access
Update the security surrounding the laundry area to keep residents and the facility they use safe. If you don’t have a large budget to input real security, you can spend a little bit of money on crime prevention by putting up security stickers and fake cameras, suggests Propst. He also recommends putting in some type of monitoring system. “Those machines aren’t impossible to get into and things can happen in the facility, like smoking, vandalism and littering,” Propst says. “And you need to be aware.”
In properties in high-crime areas, Henson has cameras in the laundry rooms and limits facility hours from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. to curtail potential problems.
But the best way to cut back on crime in your facility, Propst says, is educating tenants. First put a hotline in the laundry area that goes right to a manager, he suggests and then educate your tenants to pick up the phone when they see someone strange hanging out in the facility. Putting up signs will also help, Propst says, “but they are only as good as the people willing to read instructions.”
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