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I have 12k to invest in a laundromat in the DC/MD area. But I am very new to the industry. Any Advice?

I have been saving to purchase a laundromat in the DC area for sometime now. I am definitively committed to becoming a owner/operator of a small chain of laundromats in DC and NJ within the next 10 years. Currently I have saved 12k of my own funds and will continue to save until I realize this goal. I am desperately seeking opportunities to gain experience in this field and am considering using the 12k that I have saved so far to start a mobile laundry service in the area. My question is should I continue to save for the Mat, and then seek seller financing, or should I start the mobile laundry service now to gain experience which may look more attractive to future lenders? Thanks.

JC Roberts

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Answers (3)
Dr. Vasquez Reynolds
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The BAF Group LLC

Mobile Laundry is a little different. If the service is really good, Sellers may not take a note; they may want to hold out for a cash buyer. (As a Broker in your area, I am dealing with a similar situation now: The business cannot be funded by the SBA, but it is such a good opportunity that there are two cash Buyer bidding for the deal.) The problem with most small Laundry operations is that they have a lot of Cash Receipts, much of which is not declared in their Tax Returns. That means, despite your down payment and experience, there may not be enough for the SBA to consider for lending. And there are enough cash Buyers around that it may not matter - because they will simply pay in cash.

My point is, it is all on a case-by-case basis. If you have the opportunity to do it without the Bank, do so. If you think the Seller is willing, get him/her to sell to you, now. But if you are looking at one that has sufficient, devlared Cash Flow to obtain the blessing of the SBA, do it. Look at the opportunities and make your decision on that basis, rather than trying to make the situations fit your thoughts on how best to do it. You could wait forever, if you narrow your field too much.

The only cautions I would offer are: First, do YOU think you have sufficient experience to handle this kind of operation? And second, don't cut yourself too close with operating cash. You need cash reserves, in order to keep it going long enough to make a buck! The biggest reason businesses fail, is a lack of capital.

Jun 5, 2012