Determination and dedication to creating a quality experience for customers turned Tony El-Khouri’s investment in a rundown laundromat into a prosperous business. El-Khouri completely revamped the outdated laundromat he purchased and with support from his equipment distributor and Huebsch® laundry manufacturer, he transformed Sun Valley Laundromat into a successful business within a few short years, earning him the title “Huebsch® Store Owner of the Quarter.”
Finding the Right Opportunity
El-Khouri, a computer networker, has worked in the technology industry for more than decade and continues to do so. In 2007, he began thinking about other business ventures and after speaking with friends and family about potential business opportunities, he kept toying with the idea of purchasing a vended laundromat.
Once El-Khouri made the decision to buy a laundromat, he did not want to make an immediate purchase. He wanted to wait until the right opportunity and location became available.
Six years later, El-Khouri’s brother-in-law was driving through Glen Burnie, Maryland and passed a laundromat in a strip mall that was for sale. After learning more about the location and previous business, El-Khouri believed this was the perfect fit to launch his start in the laundry industry.
With the right price and a great location, El-Khouri purchased the store in June 2013. The 1,560-square-foot store, which El-Khouri named Sun Valley Laundromat, serves a highly populated residential neighborhood with many apartment buildings and people who rely on vended laundry. Since the location was in poor condition when he took it over, including non-functional equipment from numerous manufacturers and inefficient lighting, El-Khouri knew it needed a complete overhaul.
Selecting a Dependable Distributor
After meeting with several distributors and looking over the varying equipment options, El-Khouri chose to work with Laundry Equipment & Services Inc. (LES), based in Hagerstown, MD, due to their excellent customer service and equipment offering.
“LES is great – they gave me better equipment, a better offer and therefore better opportunities,” El-Khouri said. “They helped with selecting the perfect equipment mix, and I trusted their advice.”
The Sun Valley Laundromat remodel included installing all new lighting, flooring, tile work and a brand-new bathroom, in addition to adding a new suite of Huebsch laundry equipment. El-Khouri tapped the LES team to advise him on many aspects of his store, including the equipment mix and the new layout for the machines.
The store’s new equipment mix included 20 washers in 20-, 30- and 60-pound capacities, each with Galaxy™ 600 controls, and 22 new tumble dryers. Additionally, El-Khouri selected washer-extractors with the Huebsch eBoost™ technology, which greatly increases efficiency to help reduce utility costs. Each of the new stainless steel, coin-operated machines also came with an extended warranty. In fact, the warranty and utility savings were the biggest factors in his decision to choose Huebsch equipment over other manufacturers.
“I wanted to make sure I got a good warranty on the equipment, and Huebsch laundry manufacturer offered the best one,” El-Khouri said. "Since installing my equipment, the LES team and Huebsch representatives have continued to be very helpful resources. They are available any time I call for help, whether it’s for parts, service or a quick question.”
El-Khouri also worked with Huebsch Financial to finance the new equipment, and they developed a finance program tailored to his specific needs.
Beyond replacing the old equipment, El-Khouri wanted to spruce up the interior of the laundromat to make the place more enjoyable and comfortable for customers. He enlisted the help of his family for the aesthetics, including paint colors and décor. With the help of his sister, El-Khouri selected cheerful and bright colors to draw customers in and make them feel at home. He also offers vending machines, video games and an ATM for an added convenience for customers.
Additionally, El-Khouri knew that to create an even better customer experience, he would need welcoming and helpful employees, especially since he would not be in the store full time with his work schedule. He took extra time to interview and select outgoing, friendly employees to staff the laundromat, as well as help him operate some of his other profit centers. His three employees (two full-time and one part-time) run the wash-dry-fold service, as well as the alterations service.
All of the decisions and upgrades El-Khouri made were important to help set his business apart from competitors in the area.
“There are two other laundromats located within a two-mile radius,” El-Khouri said. “All of the work I put in to the store to offer a clean and updated design was well worth the six-week renovation time.”
Growing Toward Sustainable Success
The new look for the store, as well as the new offerings like the wash-dry-fold service, had customers excited when it came time for reopening.
“They love the laundromat, especially the customers who visited the previous store,” stated El-Khouri. “When they came back after the renovations, everybody was very impressed. They were happy to see the laundromat back to the level it was many years ago and they find the equipment very easy to use.”
Thanks to overwhelmingly positive reactions from his customers, El-Khouri only had to do about four months of initial marketing and advertising when the laundromat first opened because the word-of-mouth recommendations brought many new customers to Sun Valley Laundromat.
After a successful start in the laundry industry, El-Khouri is interested in expanding his business in the future and looks forward to continuing his partnership with LES and Huebsch laundry manufacturer when that time comes to open his next store. While the timeline for his next store will depend on his full-time job, El-Khouri shared that there are two factors that will help determine success for his future laundromat.
“The location and equipment are very important,” stated El-Khouri. “My customers and I have been very happy with our Huebsch equipment. The advice and guidance I have received from LES has been invaluable and I will certainly continue to work with them in the future.”
Whether you are already a business owner, or have only dreamed about being your own boss, the Huebsch distributor network can be your guide – from start to finish – for investing in laundry. Huebsch equipment is supported by a network of knowledgeable distributors and service professionals who provide unparalleled customer service and support. As the industry’s top-rated distributor network, Huebsch distributors form long-lasting relationships with their customers to meet their unique business needs and offer customized solutions throughout every step of their journey to help their business expand and thrive.
To find a knowledgeable laundry expert in your area who is ready, willing and able to help maximize your return on investment, visit the Huebsch distributor locator or call 1.800.553.5120.