Waters Express Laundry Center of Hillsborough County
“The SBDC has been alongside me right from the beginning,” Irwin said.
Irwin originally sought out the Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County to get some additional training in marketing. He attended three marketing classes through the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida – Ignite Your Online Marketing, Marketing Your Business and SEO: 15 Steps to Improve Your Search Engine Optimization. He says the coursework helped him to eventually create a marketing and business plan, to help secure financing.
“I’ve also done some one-on-one consulting with Jennifer and that’s really helped me in marketing,” he added.
Waters Express Laundry Center, located in Tampa, features eco-friendly large capacity, high-speed machines, and a full-service atmosphere. “We save our customers time and energy,” Irwin said. “There’s able to come in and do their laundry in less than 60 minutes.”
The center also features attendants on duty at all times, and a Drop N Chop option, at which customers can drop off their laundry and attendants will wash and fold it, to picked up later.
“We’re just starting out,” Irwin said. “This is the first express laundry center in the southeast and we’re getting great reviews for it, so we’re working towards looking at expanding.” Just a few months into operations, the business is already seeing positive reviews on Google.
While getting ready to open, Irwin also utilized the Florida SBDC Network to connect with partner, CareerSource Tampa Bay, which turned out to be a good opportunity to find qualified employees. “No business is any kind of business without its employees,” he said. They’ve [CareerSource] been really good to us. We went in there not knowing what to expect and we were able to interview a lot of folks.” Waters Express employs seven part-time staff members.
Irwin says what adds to the uniqueness of the center, is its focus on being eco-friendly and community-minded. “We want to be known as a good corporate citizen – a good neighbor. So far we’ve had a good impact on the neighborhood. The machines that we have now are a lot more green than ones from the past so we have the ability to have a much lighter footprint on nature.”
The machines at Waters Express Laundry Center use 51% less water and less soap, due to the front-load nature and cycles that are textile specific.
While he is now looking to expand services into the commercial arena, he offered words of advice for entrepreneurs, based on the lessons he’s learned along the way:
- Know your market. Study it very well.
- Pick out that little niche thing that you do.
- Be an excellent problem solver.
- Take care of your customers first.
Waters Express Laundry Center, located on West Waters Avenue, is open seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.