When Mark Hickey made a career change and purchased two laundromats in 2009, he knew the businesses would be successful if he worked hard, put his customers first and found the right partner. With the support and advice he received from his distributor, and by replacing outdated machines with durable equipment, Hickey’s two Spin City laundromats have become flourishing businesses and have earned him the title “Huebsch® Store Owner of the Quarter.”
Finding the Right Investment Opportunity
Prior to investing in laundry, Hickey used his accounting degree to work his way up to treasury manager for Circuit City in Richmond, VA. 2009 brought many challenges as the company closed down and Hickey’s father passed away. Following these two major life events, he chose to move back to Memphis to be closer to his family.
Once he was back in Memphis, Hickey started looking for new career opportunities. Given the job market and economy in 2009, he decided to take an alternate route and began researching potential investment opportunities. He also knew that during the recession he needed to find a stable industry to invest in. After conducting research, Hickey got in touch with his soon-to-be laundry equipment distributor, Mike Leake from Memphis-based Larry & Mike’s Laundry Services.
Building the Perfect Distributor Relationship
From the beginning of their relationship, Leake consistently spent time educating Hickey about the ins-and-outs of the business and helped him better understand the laundry industry. Leake also had an extensive understanding of the laundromats in the Memphis market and surrounding areas. This was especially important since Hickey did not have any previous knowledge or experience with laundromat operations.
“Leake is like the Google of the laundry industry,” Hickey said. “He’s so knowledgeable and really advised me on the major decisions I needed to make in order for my laundromats to succeed.”
When Hickey initially made the decision to purchase a laundromat, Leake helped find a number of existing laundromats that were available for sale. He also walked him through the entire process of renovating and redesigning an existing laundromat. Hickey purchased two stores in 2009, one in Millington, Tennessee and one in Horn Lake, Mississippi.
“Mike really took me under his wing when I was getting started,” shared Hickey. “And it was Mike who helped me find both of my store locations.”
Once Hickey found his stores, he needed to replace some of the equipment right away, which proved to be another part of the business in which Leake was an invaluable partner. The two locations had a mix of different equipment and Hickey wanted to feature one brand of equipment in his stores. Leake recommended Huebsch machines, due to the quality of the equipment and the company’s dedication to providing an innovative suite of products.
“There were a few Huebsch machines in my stores and they were by far much higher quality machines compared to the other equipment in the store,” Hickey said. “I also really appreciate that Huebsch laundry manufacturer continues to provide new capabilities and technologies that improve the machine operation and efficiency, without ever compromising the standard of quality.”
Hickey, with Leake’s guidance, selected an equipment mix that best fit the clientele at his two stores. Hickey also worked with Huebsch Financial to replace his equipment. Hickey found that since Huebsch Financial has experience and knowledge of the industry, they understood the needs of the laundromat owner and were able to tailor solutions for him that a bank could not provide.
“The equipment was really run down when I purchased my stores and I knew that replacing the machines would benefit the business,” Hickey added. “I’m very happy with the finance programs Huebsch Financial put together. They have been so easy to work with because they understand the business.”
Building a Better Customer Experience
A few years after acquiring his laundromats, Hickey decided he wanted to move his businesses to new buildings to improve the stores’ look and feel. He set out to find new locations in the same cities, eventually choosing suitable sites in Millington in 2015 and Horn Lake in 2016.
Prior to the grand openings of these new locations, the laundromats underwent extensive renovation. Hickey worked closely with Huebsch Laundry Design services to determine the best layout for his mix of equipment. Hickey was able to minimize the number of days his businesses were closed, since the old locations could stay up and running during most of the renovation.
Both of the locations gave Hickey more square footage, as the Millington store is 4,600 square feet and the Horn Lake store is 7,500 square feet. He built both new stores with a lot of room in mind to allow people to have their own space and feel more comfortable.
“I wanted to model them after the trend of Southern gas stations,” said Hickey. “Before, the gas pumps and customers were so close it was like they were right on top of each other. Now, customers can be spread out, just like at my laundromats.”
In addition to more space, Hickey offers customers a variety of amenities to make their experience at the new Spin City stores enjoyable, including a wash-dry-fold service, free Wi-Fi and vending machines, as well as an ATM at the Horn Lake store. He employs eight full-time attendants between the two stores, to further ensure guests are getting the best service and experience possible.
Hickey tailored the hours at each location to best fit the needs of his customers in the area. In Millington, he noticed that many of the customers were early risers and preferred to do laundry in the early morning hours so the store opens at 6 a.m. seven days a week. In Horn Lake, customers had a tendency to come in later during the week, so Hickey tailored the hours to open at 8 a.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Setting His Stores Up for Success
Thanks to a winning combination of his business acumen and Leake’s industry expertise, Hickey has created an incredibly successful laundry business.
“Existing customers are happy with the new locations and new customers are drawn to the businesses due to the extra space and brand-new features,” shared Hickey.
He has also been working on online marketing and updated his profiles on social media, in addition to having recently updated his website. These marketing efforts, combined with the additional services he provides put Hickey in a great position to set his business apart from his competition in the area.
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.
Whether you are already a business owner, or have only dreamed about being your own boss, Huebsch can be your guide – from start to finish – for investing in laundry. 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.