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2013-2014 State of the Self-Service Laundry Industry Report (Conclusion)

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(Photo: ©iStockphoto/EasyBuy4u)

Bruce Beggs |

38% of respondents purchased at least one piece of equipment in 2013

CHICAGO — Do you believe that your self-service laundry business compared favorably to others in the industry last year? Was 2013 a good year or a bad year for your store(s)? How does your pricing compare to others?

American Coin-Op’s annual State of the Industry survey offers you the opportunity to compare your operation to others in the industry. It focuses on 2013/2014 business conditions, pricing, equipment, common problems, turns per day, and utilities cost.

In instances where respondents were asked about 2013 business results, they were given the opportunity to state their results were up, down or unchanged. This is a departure from surveys compiled in 2011 and earlier, when they were asked only if their business results were up or down. Keep this in mind as you are making comparisons to previous years’ polls.

The survey is an unscientific electronic poll of American Coin-Op readers who operate stores. Some percentages may not equal 100% due to rounding.

ADDING EQUIPMENT IN 2013

Thirty-eight percent of respondents purchased at least one piece of equipment (washer, dryer, water heater, vender or changer) in 2013, down from our previous survey, when that figure was approximately 48%.

Here’s a breakdown of 2013 purchases:

  • 5.6% of respondents purchased at least one top loader. The average purchase was 2.8 machines.
  • 28.2% of respondents purchased at least one front loader. (A breakdown by capacity follows.)
  • 9.9% of respondents purchased at least one dryer (regular or stacked). The average purchase was 13.9 machines.

And we break it down further by front-load wash capacity:

  • 72.8% of buyers purchased at least one machine with a capacity up to 25 pounds. The average purchase was 12.1 machines.
  • 45.5% of buyers purchased at least one machine with a capacity of 25 to 50 pounds. The average purchase was 7.3 machines.
  • 27.3% of buyers purchased at least one machine with a capacity of more than 50 pounds. The average purchase was 1.7 machines.

(Editor’s note: Some respondents didn’t identify machine sizes, so the front-loader breakdown doesn’t include their purchases. Also, the percentages do not total 100% because some buyers purchased equipment in multiple equipment categories.)

SHOPPING IN 2014

Respondents were asked if they have bought, or plan to buy, any new machinery this year. Approximately 32%—down 4% from last year’s survey—intend to add something (washer, dryer, water heater, vender or changer) to their mix, or have already done so.

  • 8.5% of respondents have purchased, or plan to purchase, a new top loader this year. The average purchase is (or will be) five machines.
  • 15.5% of respondents have purchased or plan to purchase a new front loader this year. (A breakdown by capacity follows.)
  • 7.0% of respondents have purchased or plan to purchase a new dryer this year.

And we break things down further by front-load wash capacity:

  • 27.3% purchased or plan to purchase at least one machine with a capacity up to 25 pounds. The average purchase is 5.3 machines.
  • 9.1% purchased or plan to purchase at least one machine with a capacity of 25 to 50 pounds. The average purchase is two machines.
  • 9.1% purchased or plan to purchase at least one machine with a capacity of more than 50 pounds. The average purchase is two machines.

(Editor’s note: Many respondents didn’t identify machine sizes, so the front-loader breakdown doesn’t include their purchases. Also, the percentages do not total 100% because some buyers purchased equipment in multiple equipment categories.)

PROBLEM AREAS

What problems cause you the most grief? Here are the top-five industry problems, according to this year’s survey:

  1. High cost of utilities
  2. Dealing with employees
  3. Equipment maintenance/repair issues
  4. Competition
  5. The economy

Gone from the top five is a lack of customers or a shrinking customer base, although they were mentioned in some surveys.

TURNS PER DAY

Turns per day refers to the number of cycles (turns) that each of a store’s machines experiences each day. You can calculate that figure using total top-loader cycles for a one-week period divided by the total number of top loaders, then dividing that number by seven.

According to this year’s survey, the average turns per day for top loaders are 3.3, up slightly from last year (3.1). The average turns per day for a front loader is 3.9, down slightly from last year (4.0).

UTILITIES COST

We asked operators about their utilities cost (as a percentage of gross). The responses ranged from 11% to 40%. The most common response was 22% or 25% (tie). At the time of our survey in February, operators were paying an average of 22.6% for utilities (as a percentage of gross). In last year’s poll, that number was 24.1%.

Nearly half of respondents (49.3%) say utilities is the largest of their store’s expenses. The smallest of their expenses, according to 62.9%, is insurance.

2014 BUSINESS FORECAST

Nearly 50% of respondents expect their 2014 business to be better than it was in 2013. Approximately 44% expect business to be about the same this year, and 7% expect their business to not perform as well this year as it did in 2013.

Want to track the coin laundry business month to month? Check out our StatShot reports, available at www.americancoinop.com/articles/coinop-statshots.

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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