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.
American Coin-Op asked respondents about their current washer prices, and if they increased prices this year or planned on doing so by the end of the year.
More than 76% of respondents offer top loaders. The price range for a top-load wash is $1 to $4.
Here are the most popular top-load prices, followed by the percentage of respondents using them:
- $2 (35.2%)
- $1.50 (18.5%)
- (tie) $1.75 or $2.50 (14.8% each)
There was a bit of a shake-up in top-loader prices from a year ago. The $2 price remains the most popular, but $1.50 moved back into the top three after a year away. There was also a tie for third place in last year’s survey, but it was between $2.25 and $2.50.
Some operators continue to charge $3 or more for a top-load wash, but the share that does appear to be small. This is the fourth straight year that top-load prices exceeding $3 have been reported.
The most popular prices for some of the small front loaders are:
- 18 pounds: $2
- 20 pounds: $2
- 25 pounds: $2.50 or $3.50 (tie)
The lowest price reported in the above grouping is $1.50 (18-pound washer) and the highest is $3.75 (25-pound washer).
The price range for a 30-pound wash is $2 to $6. Here are the most popular 30-pound prices, along with the percentages of respondents using them:
- $4 (19.4%)
- $3.75 (13.9%)
- (tie) $3.25 or $3.50 (11%)
The most popular price for a 35-pound wash was $3.50, followed by $4 and then $4.50. The price range for a 35-pound wash is $2 to $5.
There was a tie for most popular price for a 40-pound wash: $4 and $4.75. There was a three-way tie for the next spot among $4.25, $4.50 and $5.
The most popular 50-pound wash price also saw a tie between $5 and $5.50. Finishing third in this category was $4.50.
At 55 pounds, the clear winner in the competition for most popular was $6.
There was a three-way tie for the most popular price for a 60-pound wash—$5.50, $6 and $6.50—and for an 80-pound wash—$7.50, $8.50 and $9.25.
Other prices reported were $11.50 and $14.75 for a 100-pound wash, and $14 and $15.99 for 125 pounds.
The operators who respond to our survey vary year to year, so prices tend to vary. But the survey consistently has shown that operators offer a wide variety of front loaders (prices for 13 different capacities were logged in this year’s survey) with a broad price range.
Thirty-eight percent of respondents have raised or plan to raise washer prices this year, and 29.6% are undecided. The remaining 32.4% have not raised prices nor intend to do so.
Here are the most popular dryer prices, followed by the percentage of respondents using them:
- 25 cents/5 minutes (18.9%)
- 25 cents/7 minutes (14.5%)
- 25 cents/6 minutes; 25 cents/6.25 minutes; and 25 cents/8 minutes (11.6% - tie)
The top two prices remain the same from last year’s survey. Six minutes of drying time remains at No. 3, but is now sharing that spot with two other prices. The 25-for-10 price, which was once an industry staple, was well down the list of dryer prices reported in this year’s survey.
Once again, there was a wide variety of dryer prices reported. The most expensive (and longest) cycle was $2 for 32 minutes.
Roughly 13% of respondents have raised or plan to raise dryer prices this year, and 28.2% are undecided. The remaining 59.2% have not raised prices nor intend to do so.
Nearly 82% of respondents operate coin-only stores, 5.6% operate card-only stores, and 12.7% have operations that offer both payment types. The latter is up a few percentage points from last year’s survey.
ATTENDED OR UNATTENDED?
Nearly 44% of respondents say their stores are fully attended. Roughly 28% say their stores are partially attended, and the remaining 28.2% say their stores are unattended.
The store owners who participated in this year’s survey employ, on average, 4.8 people. While many respondents reported having just one or two employees, some store owners reported having 20 or more people on their payroll (these large numbers can likely be attributed to multi-store owners, although that’s not a certainty).
DROP-OFF SERVICE PRICING
Drop-off-service pricing ranges from 50 cents to $2 per pound. Here are the most popular drop-off-service prices (per pound), followed by the percentage of respondents using them:
- $1 (30.8%)
- $1.50 (10.3%)
- $1.10 (7.7%)
The drop-off-service prices remain similar to 2013 prices, and there is a wide variety of prices charged for the service. There were 17 different prices charged per pound in the responses to our survey.
A little more than two-thirds of the respondents offer drop-off service, which tracks with last year’s survey.
We asked operators if they have already raised washer and/or dryer prices in 2014, or if they intend to do so before year’s end.
Thirty-eight percent say they have raised washer prices this year or intend to raise prices by the end of the year. Roughly 32% of respondents say they are not planning to raise washer prices this year, and 29.6% are undecided if they are going to hike prices in 2014.
When asked why they had raised wash prices, or were planning to do so, many store owners pointed to higher costs, particularly in utilities. One owner believes his/her customers don’t mind higher prices, provided the operation looks to be worth them. “People don’t care how much [a laundry] costs if it is clean and well-maintained,” the store owner asserts. “Did you marry the cheapest girl you could find, or the prettiest one?”
Regarding dryer prices, 12.7% have raised dryer prices this year or intend to do so later in the year. Roughly 59% don’t plan to hike dryer prices this year, and 28.2% are undecided about raising their prices.
In last year’s survey, approximately 44% said they had raised washer prices or intended to do so by the end of 2013, and 17.6% said they had raised dryer prices or intended to do so before that year’s end.
Check back Monday for the conclusion: Equipment added in 2013, shopping in 2014, problem areas, turns per day, utilities cost, and 2014 business forecast!