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.
HOW MUCH FOR A WASH?
Respondents were asked to provide how much they charge for a variety of washes.
Approximately 82% of operators offer top loaders at their store. The price range for a top-load wash is $1.25 to $3.50.
Here are the most popular top-load prices, followed by the percentage of respondents using them:
1. $2 (31.0%)
2. (Tie) $1.75, $2.25 or $2.75 (13.8% each)
5. $1.50 (10.3%)
Prices for a top-load wash remain pretty similar to most popular prices last year, as the $2 price is once again the most popular price for a top-load wash.
Operators seem to be charging more, however, as $1.50, the second most popular price last year, moved down the ranks, with mid-range prices ($1.75 to $2.75) tying for second place this year.
Like last year, a small share of respondents reported charging more than $3 for a top-load wash, marking the fifth straight year that a top-load wash exceeding $3 was reported.
The most popular prices for some of the small front loaders are:
- 18 pounds: $2
- 20 pounds: $2.25
- 25 pounds: $3.50
The lowest price reported in the group above is $1.75 (18-pound washer) while the highest price is $4 (20-pound washer).
The price range for a 30-pound wash is $2 to $5.50. Following are the most popular 30-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who use them:
1. $4 (17.4%)
2. $3 or $3.25 (tie, 13.0% each)
4. $3.75 or $4.25 (tie, 8.7% each)
The most popular price for a 35-pound wash is $4, followed by a tie between $3.50 or $4.25. The current price range for a 35-pound wash is $2 to $4.75.
Operators currently charge a variety of prices for a 40-pound wash. The most popular in this group came in at a tie, $4 and $4.25, followed by another tie for third place: $4.50 and $4.75. The price range for this grouping is $1 to $6.
When it comes to a 50-pound wash, the majority of operators currently charge $5.50, followed by a tie, $5.25 and $6.50. Prices for a 50-pound wash range between $4.59 and $6.50.
Similarly, the most popular price operators charge for a 55-pound wash is $5.50. Prices for this wash currently range from $3 to $7.
The most popular price for a 60-pound wash is $6.50, followed by a tie for second place with $6.25 and $7.50. Operators currently charge as low as $5 for a 60-pound wash, to as high as $8.
Like last year’s survey, there is a three-way tie for the most popular price for an 80-pound wash. Operators charge either $8, $8.25 or $9.25 for this wash, with prices ranging from as low as $7.50 to as high as $10.
Other prices reported include $8 or $8.50 for a 75-pound wash, and $17 for a 125-pound wash.
Operators who respond to our survey vary year to year, which may reflect upon the variety of prices reported.
Respondents were asked to provide prices for front-loaders of 14 different capacities. However, no prices were logged for a 100-pound wash, or a 150-pound wash.
Operators were asked to provide their current prices for their dryers in cents per minute. Like last year, a variety of responses were reported.
There was a tie for the current most popular price at either 4 cents per minute or 25 cents per five minutes (or 5 cents per minute, as some respondents reported), which was the most popular price last year. Other popular prices include 3 cents or 6 cents per minute.
The 25-for-10 price, once an industry staple, was not reported, but several operators reported variations of it, including 32 cents for 10 minutes, or 25 cents for eight minutes.
The most expensive (and longest) dry cycle was $2 for 35 minutes, a figure similar to last year’s $2 for 32 minutes.
American Coin-Op asked respondents if they have already raised washer and/or dryer prices in 2015, or if they plan to do so before the end of the year.
Regarding washer prices, the majority of respondents (47.4%) say they have already raised prices, or intend to do so, by the end of the year. Close to 37% say they have no such plans, while 15.8% are undecided.
Regarding their decision to raise washer prices, many operators say they implemented the increase to cope with a variety of overhead costs, including utilities, labor and rent.
One respondent says he/she raised washer prices to keep up with his/her competitor.
“[I] generally raise [washer] prices every year on Jan. 1,” says another.
Regarding dryer prices, more than half of respondents (55.3%) say they have not raised prices, or do not have plans to do so by the end of the year. Roughly 29% say they have such plans, while 15.8% are undecided.
Much like their decision to raise washer prices, many operators say they raised dryer prices to keep up with utilities cost.
“[I] haven’t done so in six years [and] propane is way up,” says one respondent.
Another respondent says the governor in his/her state is intending to “significantly raise taxes on natural gas,” which will “ripple through both gas and electric rates.”
Missed Part 1 of this story? You can read it now HERE.
Check back Wednesday for trends in coin- or card-operated stores, 2014 equipment purchases and what operators will be shopping for in 2015!