by Speed Queen Laundry Systems
last updated 31/03/2022
Build It And They'll Come
by Speed Queen Laundry Systems
last updated 31/03/2022
Speed Queen laundromat owners enjoy reliable machines, reliable demand and reliable returns
Paul Screach and his business partner Mimi Chua know how to make technology work for them, although the contrast between their business ventures couldn’t be greater. Back in 1993, the pair set up one of the first digital printing outlets in Auckland. ‘Back then, that still meant long hours and hard work, but when we sold in 2006 it was a highly successful business,’ Paul recalls.
‘But Speed Queen is better. The automation and cash-free technology of their laundromat equipment is brilliant, and enables us to run our business from anywhere, even overseas! And while Covid damaged many businesses badly, for us that was not the case – all the manned laundromats in the country had to close during lockdown, so we picked up a big increase in customers. Since then, it’s only grown further.’
Mimi and Paul had been on a quest for the perfect business for some time. ‘We have family overseas,’ says Mimi, ‘and we did a lot of our research on various trips, but it wasn’t until Speed Queen came on the scene that the technology caught up with our ideas by moving away from coins or tokens to cashless payment systems. Many NZ laundromats have bars on the windows and have a major security problem – the technology Speed Queen offers removed all those concerns for us.’
20-30 percent returns
Speed Queen-equipped laundromats are providing instant solutions like these to customers – and investors – worldwide. ‘The return on investment is in the region of 20-30 percent, and some of our owners have done much better than that,’ says Royce Little, Speed Queen’s head of laundromat sales.
‘We’re seeing New Zealand follow the trend in America for self-serve laundromats to become more and more popular as apartments have grown smaller. As Mimi and Paul have discovered, demand is constantly growing.’
Speed Queen is not actually a franchise – you operate under your own name, but Speed Queen provides all the equipment and assistance you need to get up and running. ‘We were very impressed with the service the company offered,’ says Paul. ‘Mimi and I had already selected a site in the Auckland suburb of Glendene, and from there approached Royce and his team for their advice. They are the professionals and have never yet built a site that failed so we reckoned it was worth listening to them. They agreed it was a good location and, a little over a year ago we opened our doors. We were almost immediately interrupted by lockdown, but in our case that proved to be a marketing bonus!’
Paul explains, ‘The appeal of Speed Queen is the 24-hour, cash-free operation which means our machines are earning a return at any hour of the day or night. We focussed on delivering a modern laundromat experience and the customers came. Speed Queen predicted it would take just three months to get up to speed, which it did, and thereafter the figures and numbers have been spot on – only proving their expertise!’
Paul and Mimi have found the Speed Queen experience to be completely positive, and are now looking at a second outlet. ‘The great advantage of Speed Queen is that you are running an unmanned site which is constantly working for you, and you can operate it remotely. You need to be able to respond to calls and queries – all of which you can do via the technology – but other than that, the only major outgoing is to have a cleaner come in regularly, for which we have a contract in place. It really does offer value for money to all parties – investors and customers alike.’
Built to last
There are no issues with reliability, either. ‘Speed Queen machines are built to last,’ says Royce. ‘We’ve equipped over 50 outlets in the last two years and supplied six of the largest laundromats operating in the southern hemisphere. We use the best and most robust machines in the business and we don’t expect to replace any of them inside 15 years.
‘A medium-sized investment will be between $250,000 and $300,000, with a cash deposit required of $75-100,000. Most owners take advantage of our finance partners for the remainder. If you are interested in opening your own cashless, money-making business, give me a call so we can discuss the options.’
Paul and Mimi certainly have no regrets. ‘When we started our research, one of our major criteria was to own a business that would free up more of our time while providing a substantial return on investment. The kind of business that excites us both is something pioneering and ahead, just like the digital printing industry in the early days.
‘You can’t get much better than Speed Queen as a passive investment and income – the quality of the machinery is first class and, best of all, it’s always working for you!’
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