Updating your laundry facility is smart for resident retention, and it can be easily done. Immediate and efficient updates to your laundry facility can save you money and help you better accommodate tenants.
Here are five tips for updating your laundry facility:
1. Invest in Quality to Minimize Repairs
When upgrading machines, you don’t want to cut corners, says Andrew Propst, president and managing partner at Park Place Property Management in Meridian, Idaho. Propst suggests investing in higher quality machines to save money in the long run. The upfront expenses will pay for themselves, Propst says. “In the long run, you’ll be spending three times as much on maintaining a lower quality machine,” Propst says.
2. Hire Help
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,” he says. That company also handles the coin collection, repairs, cleans and updates all machines, which provides scheduled, dependable services with little to no hassle for management, Henson says. To find a reliable laundry service provider, Henson recommends asking for a referral from 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 on a price 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. Propst recommends replacing light switches with timers to save energy. “You can buy a timer or digital one-touch and choose how long lights can stay on at one time.” Propst also suggests having an exhaust fan timed with the lights so that when the dryer runs, the exhaust also runs.
Keeping the facility properly ventilated will conserve energy while providing a more comfortable environment for residents, Henson says. “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, Henson says to make sure the dryer vents — from the dryer to the outside — are no longer than 30 feet, with at least five feet for each “elbow.”
5. Improve Security and Access
To keep your facility and residents safe, update the security surrounding the laundry area. Propst also recommends putting in some type of monitoring system to prevent smoking, vandalism and littering.
For 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 is educating tenants, Propst says. Propst recommends installing a hotline in the laundry area that connects to a manager, and encouraging tenants to pick up the phone when they see unwanted behavior in the facility. Putting up signs will also help, “but they are only as good as the people willing to read instructions,” Propst says.