CHICAGO — How did your self-service laundry business measure up with others in the industry last year?
Did your drop-off service thrive, or did you see profits go down the drain? Are your vend prices in line with what your peers are charging?
American Coin-Op’s annual State of the Industry survey offers store owners and operators the chance to compare their operation to others in the industry.
The survey focuses on 2014-2015 business conditions, pricing, equipment, common problems, turns per day and utilities cost.
In instances where respondents were asked about 2014 business results, they were given the opportunity to state whether their results were up, down or unchanged.
This is a departure from surveys compiled in 2011 and earlier, when respondents were asked only if their business was up or down. Keep this in mind as you’re making comparisons to previous years’ results.
This survey is an unscientific electronic poll of American Coin-Op readers who operate stores. Some percentages may not equal 100% due to rounding.
ATTENDED OR UNATTENDED?
Approximately 39% of respondents say their stores are fully attended, down 5% from last year’s survey. Roughly 26% say their stores are partially attended, while 34.2% say their stores are unattended.
Overall, 65.8% of operators currently employ one or more attendants at their stores. Unlike last year, respondents this year were asked to provide a range of how many people they employ across all of their stores.
An even 12% of respondents only have one employee, while 44.0% employ two to three. The remaining 44.0% say they have four or more employees.
What are some common problems plaguing laundry store owners and operators? Here are the top industry problems, according to this year’s survey:
1. Utilities cost
2. Cost of equipment maintenance/repairs
3. Rent, dealing with employees and loiterers (tie)
TURNS PER DAY
Turns per day refers to the number of cycles (turns) that each of a store’s machines completes each day. You can calculate it using total top-loader cycles for a one-week period divided by the total number of top loaders, then dividing that number by seven.
Currently, the average turns per day for top loaders amongst respondents is 2.8, down from last year’s survey (3.3). For front loaders, the number is 4.3, up from last year’s survey (3.9).
Operators were asked about their utilities cost (as a percentage of gross). The responses ranged from 10% to 42%.
At the time of our survey in February, operators were paying an average of 21.4% for utilities (as a percentage of gross), down slightly from 22.6% last year. The most common response was 30%, up from last year’s figure (a tie between 22% and 25%).
Utilities account for the largest store expense for the majority of respondents (63.2%), while insurance is the smallest expense (47.4%).
FORECAST FOR 2015
Close to 53% of respondents are optimistic that 2015 total business will be better than 2014. Roughly 42% expect business to be about the same, while 5.3% say it will not perform as well in 2015 as it did in 2014.
“[We are] getting better at what we do—more efficient, better tracking [and] more marketing,” says one respondent.
“We will be entering our third year in business [this year]; we should still be growing,” says another.