I just recently completed a major renovation of my Briarcliff Laundromat. I removed 19 of my old mechanical timer Wascomat Generation 4 washers in exchange for 19 brand new Huebsch Galaxy 600 High Speed Extract washers. Why would I replace 19 perfectly good operating washers? Go back a couple of newsletters to find out why.
When I placed my order for the new Huebsch washers, I realized I had 19 old washers that were in good operating condition, so what do I do with the old equipment? I have strong environmental concerns and it just drives me crazy to throw out perfectly good operating machines. I have feelings that these washers have to have "some value" to someone. Why pay for perfectly good operating washers to go to the junk yard when someone might be able to use the machines. Part of me strongly believes in Re-use and Recycle whenever possible. Our earth has limited resources and wit is my belief that we cannot exist without this concept.
How do I get rid of perfectly good operating washers and how do I control where they don't end up as competition to my Laundromat?
I have seen Laundromat owners sell used Top-load washers to local landlords and be grateful to get a couple of hundred dollars a machine. When in actuality, the Laundromat owner would be better served to throw away the machines. If a local landlord places a couple of used Top-load washers and a couple of small dryers in his basement; you could lose 2-4 families of Laundromat revenue. If you figure that each family spends between $700-$1000 a year in your Laundromat, you could get $400 in revenue for the used machines and loose $4000 of revenue a year (forever) in your Laundromat. So I guess you need to be careful what you sell and who you sell the equipment to and where the used laundry equipment will eventually end up.
In my case, I was not worried about a landlord of a 4 family house purchasing these washers. All of the Wascomat washers I owned were bolt down machines, requiring 3 phase electricity and they all were gravity drain washers. These washers are built for Laundromats and not residential use. Very few multi- family apartment buildings have 3 phase electricity and fewer have the capacity to install gravity drain bolt down machines in their basements.
I placed a nice ad on Craigslist and was able to get a � dozen interested parties resulting in one who was willing to pay me for my used washers. (Talk about found money.) The process I used to sell the washers was as follows. As soon as I knew I was going to renovate the Laundromat, I started the process of selling my used washers. I started by taking very nice photos of the machines. Time is your enemy so you want to focus on getting good photos and placing your Craigslist ad immediately. Remember you are working against an installation date deadline. If you are going to install the new washers on November 1st then try to get as much time to run and re-run your Craigslist ad before your installation date. I would recommend at least 4 weeks of ad time before your installation date.
How do you present your used machines in the best light? I like to shoot lots of digital photos of the used laundry equipment. Shoot photos of the machines in a line and while operating. A picture of a washer with clothes and soap suds in the machine is a strong credible statement and is so much better than an empty washer. The photos should included close-up of the front of the machines and pictures with the front and the top panel off. Obviously before you shoot your pictures, you want to make the washers look as nice as possible. Remove any out of order tags and be sure to clean the tops and the front of the washers before you shot your pictures. I only shoot pictures of the actual washers & dryers to be sold. I would never show a different washer and try to pass it off as one to be sold, that is just deceit and fraud.
Some photography hints:
- Good quality photos will help sell machines. This is where a little time & attention can attract good buyers. Poor photos will not attract any interest.
- Use a good camera and make sure that there is good light. If you have lights on time clocks, turn them on. There can never be too much light in a Laundromat.
- Whenever possible shoot the pictures during the day so that there is more natural light.
- Whenever possible, shoot pictures of operating washers & dryers. Nothing is better than seeing clothes tumbling in an operating machine.
- Always shoot pictures of the machines in the Laundromat. (Once the washers are out of the Laundromat and in a warehouse the value of the machines drops by at least another 50%.)
- Clean all of the washers before you start shooting pictures. Make them look their very best.
- Remove any out of order tags before shooting pictures. (Be sure to replacement when you are done.) If machines need repairs, be honest with your buyer and let them know any existing problems.
- Be honest, shoot the best and the worst machines (a serious buyer will want to see the machines in person, so why waste everyone's time, and show an honest representation).
My Craigslist ad provided as much information about the machines as possible. My ad included the make, quantity, model numbers and features which might be attractive about the machines. For instance, all of these washers had only 1 owner and had been serviced by an equipment distributor (me). I also had up-graded the washers from coin slides to the Keltner digital drop coin mechanisms. I also listed that these washers as operating on 208-240 volt, 3 phase electricity.
I placed the ad (see attached link) and would tweak the ad every week or so that way the ad would end up in the top posting queue again. When I received a call or an email about the machines, I answered the prospective buyers as soon as possible. I would try to identify the serious buyers from the "tire kickers". The serious buyers I always suggested that they could see the machines in operation and even suggested to them that they bring their laundry to "test drive" the machines. I also tried to sell the entire lot of equipment all together vs. selling the machines individually. I did this just to make it easier on me to deal with only 1 buyer. I could have sold the machines individually and gotten more money. If you sell to only one buyer, you most likely have to discount the entire lot.
I ended up with 2 serious buyers and another guy who would have take the machines off my hands for pennies. I eventually met my buyer at the Laundromat and received payment right then and there for the machines. My philosophy was that whoever comes up with the money first, get the machines. No bidding. "Show me the money". People will promise everything, but many will not deliver (ask restaurants about dinner reservation no-shows). In the end I received $4000 for 19 washers. I was asking $10,000 or the best offer. At $4000, I received about $200 a washer. This is a very cheap price, but I was pleased with the deal. I was glad that the washers could be put to good use again. I was pleased for any money I received for the washers, because it was truly found money. It is almost enough money to take my wife out to dinner; (that is supposed to be a joke). I also did not have to deal with a scrap metal guy to get rid of the washers.
If I had not received any offers I would have junked the machines. I would Never put 20+ year old used machines into storage. Once you take the machines out of the Laundromat, you will be lucky to sell the machines at any price.