2013-2014 State of the Self-Service Laundry Industry Report (Part 1)


(Photo: ©iStockphoto/EasyBuy4u)

Bruce Beggs |

55% of store owners polled report their overall business increased 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 coin laundry owners the opportunity to compare their operations 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.


Nearly two-thirds of respondents say they own just one self-service laundry. Multi-store owners accounted for the remaining 34.3% (22.4% of total respondents own two or three stores, 11.9% own four or more stores).

In 2013, 55% of respondents saw their overall coin laundry business increase from 2012.

More specifically, these operators reported an increase in business (gross dollar volume) in 2013 compared to 2012. In last year’s survey, 54% reported an increase in business, and two years ago, 45% reported a bump.

The average 2013 business increase was 9.6%, down from 11.7% in 2012. Other past average business increases were 11.5% (2011), 10.8% (2010), 7.9% (2009), 14% (2008) and 12.2% (2007).

Here’s a closer look at the 2013 business increases (the figures relate to those reporting increases, not all respondents):

  • Operators with a business increase of less than 10%: 52.6%
  • Operators with a business increase of 10-14%: 26.3%
  • Operators with a business increase of 15% or more: 21%

Approximately 25% of respondents saw their business decrease (in gross dollar volume) last year. In our survey of 2012 business, roughly 30% saw a drop in business. The percentage was 35% in 2011, 58% in 2010 and 59.8% in 2009.

The average 2013 business decrease was 8.7%, down a bit from the previous year’s figure (9.5%). Prior average declines were 10.2% in 2011, 11.2% in 2010, 13.7% in 2009, 14.3% in 2008 and 13.2% in 2007.

Were the losses consistent last year or did they vary? Here’s a closer look at the 2013 business decreases:

  • Operators with a business reduction of less than 10%: 58.8%
  • Operators with a business reduction of 10-14%: 29.4%
  • Operators with a business reduction of 15% or more: 11.8%

Approximately 20% of store owners reported their 2013 business was unchanged compared to their 2012 results.

These results generally continue to reflect year-to-year improvement, on average. The number of operators reporting an increase in business was up slightly from last year, but the average business increase was the lowest it’s been since 2009.

The average business decrease (8.7%) was nearly a percentage point lower than the prior year. Additionally, the number of operators suffering a large business deduction (15% or more) shrank from 17.6% in 2012 to 11.8% in 2013.


Drop-off service continues to be a popular choice for self-service laundry operators looking for ways to help their customers free up time for other pursuits, based on the latest numbers.

Approximately 24% of respondents reported that drop-off-service business (gross dollar volume) increased in 2013. For 2012, approximately 42% reported business increases in that category.

The average drop-off-service business increase last year was 15.8%, falling below 2012’s average increase of 16.2%, but it’s worth noting that 85% of respondents whose drop-off service improved in 2013 reported double-digit gains.

Roughly 20% saw a decrease in drop-off-service business. The average decrease in 2013 was 9.0%, which was much lower than the prior year. Previous average declines in drop-off business were 18.1% in 2012 and again in 2011, 18.8% in 2010 and 24.2% in 2009.

Approximately 56% of respondents said their 2013 drop-off-service business was unchanged from 2012.

About three out of five respondents offer some type of drycleaning service, and nearly 72% reported this area of their business was unchanged in 2013. The average business increase was 12%, and the average decrease was 6.2%.


Roughly 34% of the respondents had an increase in vending sales business in 2013, falling short of the previous year’s reported 44.6%. Approximately 19% saw their vending sales business decline in 2013, and 46.9% saw vending sales remain unchanged.

The average vending gain was 8.9%, down from last year’s figure (11.3%).

The average decrease in vending business was 9.8%, compared to 9.1% in 2012.

Check back Wednesday for Part 2: Wash/dry pricing, payment technology, breakdown of attended/unattended stores, drop-off service pricing, and more!

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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