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2012 Distributor Survey: Majority Enjoyed Better Business Last Year (Part 1)

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(Photo: © iStockphoto/Gunnar Pippel)

Bruce Beggs |

Similar outcome expected for 2012, results show

CHICAGO — A majority of distributors polled in this year’s American Coin-Op distributor survey enjoyed better business than the previous year and is expecting overall sales in 2012 to beat those of 2011.

Roughly 55% of survey respondents said business—including the sales of newly constructed self-service laundries, and replacement business—was better in 2011 than it was in 2010. And 59% predict that 2012 sales will be better than 2011’s.

Approximately 24% said business was worse in 2011 than 2010, and 21.1% said business was comparable in both years.

Every distributor listed in the American Coin-Op Distributors Directory prior to July 2 was invited to participate in this year’s unscientific survey, which charts 2011 business and makes comparisons to previous years.

2011 BUSINESS

In last year’s report, we described 2010 as a bounce-back year for many distributors. 2011 continued that trend, albeit not to the same degree. In the 2011 survey covering 2010 business, 46% said business was better in 2010 than 2009. And only 15.6% said business was better in 2009 than 2008 in the survey two years ago.

For those experiencing a change in business in 2011, the No. 1 reason was the economy. But depending on the distributor, it was either a positive or a negative.

Those who thrived saw investors inspired by upticks in the economy either building new stores or purchasing new equipment to upgrade existing facilities.

Distributors whose business suffered in 2011 lamented over tight lending/lack of financing and uncertainty in the marketplace.

REPLACEMENT BUSINESS

Replacement-business figures showed signs of vast improvement from our report one year ago. In replacement business only, 52.6% said business was up last year compared to 2010. That’s compared to the 39.3% who saw their replacement business increase from 2009 to 2010 and 20% who saw an increase from 2008 to 2009.

Roughly 26% saw replacement business fall in 2011, and 21.1% said their level of replacement business was unchanged from 2010.

NEW-LAUNDRY CONSTRUCTION

American Coin-Op asked distributors how many new laundries they built and/or to which they supplied equipment in 2011. Slightly more than 54% of respondents built or supplied equipment to three or fewer new laundries last year. In the 2011 survey for 2010 business, this figure was 56%. It was 62% in the 2010 survey for 2009 business.

How many new laundries did distributors deal with in some fashion in 2011? Here are the most popular answers from this year’s survey:

  1. 2
  2. 3
  3. 4
  4. 1
  5. 0

Distributors were also asked if their 2011 new-construction total was more, less or the same when compared to 2010. Nearly 39% said new construction was up in 2011 (by comparison, that figure was roughly 41% in the 2011 survey for 2010 business and only 14% in the 2010 survey for 2009 business), 30.8% said new construction was down, and 30.8% said new construction was the same in 2011 and 2010.

In Part 2 on Tuesday: Equipment mix, and does size matter?

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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