A few short years ago, Annette Freking worked as a registered nurse, while husband, Jeff, farmed and tended to his real estate properties. The pair often spoke about opening a business together, yet didn’t exactly know what entrepreneurial venture to pursue. However at that time, they would never have imagined themselves as the proud owners of Perry Creek Laundry, located in Sioux City, Iowa.
“Owning a Laundromat was the furthest thing from our minds,” said Annette. “Jeff spent a lot of his free time on the Internet researching potential ideas. Then one day he was browsing on Craigslist and spotted an ad for a ‘Vended Laundry Investment Opportunity’.”
Soon after the couple was sitting down with the industry professional that placed the ad – commercial laundry distributor, Jon Glover, of BDS Laundry Systems. “It was an eye-opening introduction to the business,” shared Annette. “Jon gave us so much pertinent information in our very first meeting.”
Some of the benefits of laundry ownership that were particularly attractive to Annette and Jim were the low fixed costs, the overall manageability of the business, and of course the potential for a strong return on their investment.
So what started out as a business idea that never even occurred to them now became Annette and Jeff’s number one business option. Subsequently they began their extensive laundry research online and in person, visiting roughly 15 Laundromats. They also investigated different equipment brands, prices – and other distributors.
A trusted partnership is formed
However the Frekings felt no one could compare to Jon’s expertise, professional attitude, as well as patience. “He always returned Jeff’s calls, which were many,” chuckled Annette. “Ultimately we knew that Jon, and the whole BDS Laundry team, was the best fit for us.”
Moving forward with Jon by their side, the first item on the agenda was finding the perfect location. “Jon helped us scout around and counseled us on what to look for,” said Annette. “When we found a corner lot just one block off of Hamilton Boulevard, one of the busiest streets in Sioux City, we knew this was the spot for our laundry.”
The location also provided inspiration for the perfect store name – Perry Creek Laundry. “On one side we have this bustling boulevard,” said Annette. “And on the other side of the property is this babbling creek called Perry Creek. So we thought ‘That’s it, that’s our name!’”
The build took roughly two years from the time Annette and Jeff decided to enter the laundry business to Perry Creek’s opening day. Their “must-have” laundry list included a front door that opened and locked automatically, lots of windows, an office with a service counter, free Wi-Fi, convenient parking, and plenty of seating – inside and out. “The outdoor tables and chairs give our store a little something extra, something special,” added Annette.
The Frekings relied on Jon’s know-how to design a store that offered an excellent work flow, maximizing every inch of the 2,500-square-foot space. They layout called for the largest washers, two 75-pound and four 60-pound, to be placed in the front of the store, while the dryers held sway along the back wall. The design also included two roomy folding areas. “The whole space has a great feel and flow to it,” said Annette. “It functions extremely well and our customers just love it.”
Additionally Jon made the recommendation to purchase Electrolux laundry equipment.
Reducing energy costs and water consumption are a savvy business move for any Laundromat owner. With an eye on utility savings, Jon introduced Annette and Jeff to the Electrolux brand. “Right off the bat, we liked the color and design of the machines,” said Annette. “The Electrolux washer’s doors and drums were noticeably larger than its competitors. And when we learned about all the cost-saving features, we were sold.”
The Frekings once again had done their research, finding that soft-mount equipment was the most cost effective. That’s why they chose to install Electrolux Professional 450 G-Force high-speed extraction washers. The G-force removes more water from the load of wash, minimizing dry time. “We’re already seeing a significant savings in our electrical and gas bills,” said Annette. “And our customers like the machines because they are in-and-out so much faster.”
Besides making drying faster, the soft-mount washers make for an easier installation process on wood floors, upper levels and over basements. The heavy-duty construction of the equipment ensures a trouble-free operation as well as a longer machine life.
The dryer selection boasts an array of 14, 35-pound dryers; eight 50-pound dryers; and three 83-pound dryers. “The Electrolux dryers can quickly dry a large wash load efficiently and effectively,” said Annette. “Exactly what any customer is looking for in a laundry.”
What’s more, Perry Creek Laundry is the only store in town that has the Electrolux brand. “That’s saying a lot,” shared Annette. “Our customers rave about how good the equipment is. They love that they can even receive a text message telling them their wash is done. Without a doubt, Electrolux sets us apart from our competition.”
In addition to superior equipment and time savings, Perry Creek Laundry offers its patrons wash-dry-fold services. The store takes coin, credit, debit, and loyalty cards. Partially attended, Perry Creek has eight security cameras, three televisions, and a Vendrite soap and snack vending machine.
All in a day’s work…
Jeff and Annette go to their store every day. “My first task of the morning is getting the coffee ready for our customers,” shared Annette. “Next it’s on to sweeping, mopping, and cleaning the lint traps, making sure all the machines are clean and ready to use. I’m also on hand if anyone needs any help or just to say ‘Hi’ and chat for a bit. Then it’s on to more cleaning. It’s very low key work, yet I am busy every minute.”
Perry Creek Laundry caters to a diverse market that includes young professionals and a large rental community. “We have many customers with access to washers and dryers at their apartment complexes,” said Annette. “But they prefer coming to our store thanks to our large capacity washers and the effectiveness of the Electrolux equipment. Their laundry gets done faster.”
One of the very best aspects of running a Laundromat are the customers themselves, according to Annette. “The people are the absolute highlight of this business,” she said. “Before moving to Sioux City, Jeff and I lived in a small town. We really enjoy the diversity of people that come into the store and have a lot fun meeting them.”
Annette also shared that some days in the store are downright funny. “There are so many great personalities that walk through our doors,” she said. “There always seems to be a lot of liveliness and laughter during the day, which Jeff and I just love. I think it’s because we each grew up in large families with lots of little kids so we thrive on that kind of energy.”
It’s the simple stuff that makes the biggest difference
A clean store, machines that actually work, and a friendly atmosphere are the trade secrets to Annette and Jeff’s business success. That, and partnering with a trustworthy industry expert. “Jon and BDS Laundry Systems helped us with every aspect of our business,” shared Annette. “And they continue to be an integral to our success.”
In mid-January 2015, Perry Creeks enjoyed its Grand Opening offering its customers a week’s worth of free dry days and daily drawings to win free loyalty cards. Leading up to opening day, the couple ran a local radio spot and passed out brochures in the community. “We are also on Facebook and of course, word of mouth has been tremendous for us,” shared Annette.
Annette and Jeff caution other hopeful Laundromat owners to do extensive research. They also advise keeping such a venture close to the vest. “We didn’t mention our new adventure to very many people,” said Annette. “It takes an enormous amount of time and energy to start something new. Better to focus that energy on doing your due diligence than talking about it.”
“The great thing about the laundry business is that it’s so simple, but a lot goes on behinds the scenes,” shared Annette. “Jeff and I are so excited about what’s next for Perry Creek and feel very fortunate that we made some very wise decisions – from the Electrolux equipment to our laundry distributor.”