Like any business, laundromats can be a target for crime. Safety should always be the top priority for laundromat owners and investors, so here are a few tips to help keep you, your employees, your customers, and your property safe. Do your research before you buy and invest.
Before you decide on a location for your laundromat business, be sure to scope out the area and look closely at the surrounding businesses and residences.
A few questions to ask yourself might be:
- Are the surrounding businesses clean and well-kept, or is there trash and broken windows?
- Is the clientele you’re hoping to attract frequenting the other local businesses in the area?
- Are the streets, public areas, and other businesses clean and well lit?
- Is the potential laundromat location secluded from other businesses and high-traffic areas?
After you do your first visual check of the area, start chatting with other local business owners and residents. Pick their brains about what it’s like to live and work in the neighborhood and if they think your business would be a good fit there.
Not only will these conversations help you gain valuable insights about the area’s safety and clientele, but they will also help you start to build trusting relationships with those in the area if you do decide to start your laundromat there. Once you open your business, continue nurturing those relationships. It’s nice to know that friendly neighbors will be keeping an eye out for you and have your back if a crime occurs.
It may also be a good idea to chat with local law enforcement and take a look at public police records to learn about the crime in the area. In particular, note the trends of the most common types of crimes and times they occur. Checking online crime mapping sites may also be helpful.
You can use your insights from these initial conversations and research to start planning your money collection times appropriately and plan what security measures your building may need.
Prevent a Crime from Occurring
After you’ve learned a bit about the area, it’s time to actually start securing your building. There are a few common sense security precautions that may help deter crime in your laundromat from the get-go.
First, make sure your laundromat is well-lit and has plenty of unobstructed windows. A burglar’s risk of being seen entering or leaving a property influences their target selection, according to the Chicago Police Department. Things like dense shrubs and fences can also help criminals hide from view, so you might want to consider removing them.
Security cameras and alarm systems are a must. Studies have found that there’s a direct correlation between installing security systems and reducing crime. Business.com breaks down some various types of security systems – from video surveillance to electronic access control systems –which may help you figure out what system is the best fit for your laundromat.
Any employees at your business should be trained on security protocols so they know how to operate the security system and have steps to follow when opening or closing up the laundromat. Making sure that all employees are on the same page will help keep them and your business safe and help avoid accidental alarm triggers.
Keep an eye on trends and technological improvements so you know when it might be a good time to invest in security upgrades.
Use Caution When Moving Profits
The biggest target for crime may be when you’re removing the cash from your laundromats washers, dryers, and vending machines. Owners and employees should take extra precautions during this time to avoid any incidents.
When it comes time to move your profits to the bank or a safe, always do a visual check of your surroundings – including bathrooms, hallways, and parking lots – to make sure nothing seems suspicious or out of the ordinary. Once you have the money, move it immediately to the designated location.
Laundromat owners should also switch up collection times to make them more difficult for criminals to track and monitor. Coin Laundry Association notes that one laundromat owner always carries the same backpack with him every time he entered the laundromat, whether he’s collecting money or not. That way any potential criminals never know when the bag actually has money in it.
Investors may also want to consider moving to a credit card or smart card laundry vending system to reduce the amount of cash sitting around the laundromat. This system also makes sense for your clientele, since only 9% of consumers chose cash as their preferred payment method, in comparison to almost 80% for debit and credit cards..
Keep Your Cool if a Crime Occurs
While you may take precautions, crimes can sometimes still happen. If an incident occurs, you should contact police as soon as it is safe to do so.
In the event of a crime at your laundromat, law enforcement agencies offer the following tips:
- Remain calm.
- Cooperate with the robber or intruder. They seldom hurt people who give them what they want.
- Make as many observations about the criminal as you can – height, weight, ethnicity, notable tattoos or piercings, etc. Write them down as soon as you have an opportunity so you don’t forget.
- Do not chase or follow the intruder. You may endanger yourself or others.
- Protect the crime scene following the incident. Don’t try to clean up or touch any possible evidence.
Ask witnesses to stay until an officer arrives. If they can’t, have them write down their name and contact information.
If you want to learn more about how to prevent crime at your laundromat, many law enforcement agencies offer free educational programs and resources for community members. By keeping these tips in mind and staying informed, you can help to protect yourself, your customers, your employees, and your investment.