Clean laundry. It’s one of those basic things without which we would go mad but which we rarely stop to consider. Within New York’s co-op and condo complexes, laundry room facilities are an integral part of a happy, functioning environment. Over the last decade, those facilities have evolved to suit changing needs and expectations from residents and managers alike. As a result, many laundry room service providers are offering new options that put them squarely at the forefront of customer service, both for individuals and the buildings as a whole.
But before launching into what’s new in the industry, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at how the whole building/service provider relationship works. Given that most laundry room contracts last from five to eight years, it’s not a stretch to use the “r” word when discussing the partnerships that arise. “It really does become a relationship,” says Denise Savino-Erichsen, one of the principals of Automatic Industries, a laundry service provider in Hempstead. “You do become pretty tight with these people.”
When co-op or condo buildings are in need of a laundry facility, the job is typically bid out to a contractor like any other building improvement project. The winning contractor will then take over the laundry room space, often refurbishing the area, providing furnishings and handling things like liability insurance. “For most managers or boards, they’d like one less thing to worry about,” Savino-Erichsen says. “And this is one corner of the building they shouldn’t have to worry about.”
The contracts between buildings and providers extends for so many years because of the initial cost of installing new machines, making those room enhancements and upgrading infrastructure. “It’s very costly to put these rooms together,” Savino-Erichsen says.
For the building, the laundry room can be a significant source of income given that the only real expense comes in the form of utilities. That income can come from the lease payments made by the service provider or through a profit-sharing agreement or a combination of the two.