2015-16 State of the Self-Service Laundry Industry (Part 2)

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(Photo: © iStockphoto/blackred)

Bruce Beggs |

Roughly 55% have raised, or intend to raise, washer prices by year’s end

CHICAGO — Do you believe your self-service laundry business measured up favorably to others in the industry last year? Did you have a good year or a bad year in 2015? How does your pricing compare with others?

American Coin-Op’s annual State of the Industry survey offers store owners and operators the opportunity to compare their operation to others in the industry.

This year’s survey focused on 2015-2016 business conditions, pricing, equipment, common challenges, turns per day and utilities cost.

In instances where respondents were asked about 2015 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 subscribers who operate stores. Some percentages may not equal 100% due to rounding or other factors.

HOW MUCH FOR A WASH?

Respondents were asked to report how much they charge for a variety of washes.

Approximately 67.4% of operators offer top loaders at their store(s). The price range for a top-load wash is $1.25 to $3.

Here are the most popular top-load prices, followed by the percentage of respondents using them:

  1. $2 (25.0%)
  2. $1.50 (21.4%)
  3. $2.50 (17.9%)

Prices for a top loader are fairly 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 less, however, as $1.50, the fifth most popular price last year, moved up the ranks to second. The price of $2.50, which was not among the most popular prices reported last year, is now No. 3.

For the first time in six years, no operators who took the annual survey reported charging more than $3 for a top-load wash.

The most popular prices for some of the small front loaders are:

  • 18 pounds: $2 and $2.25 (tie)
  • 20 pounds: $2.50
  • 25 pounds: $3.25

The lowest price reported in this group is $1.25 (18-pound washer) while the highest price is $5.50 (25-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 (25%)
  2. $3 (16.7%)
  3. $3.50 or $4.25 (tie, 12.5% each)

The most popular price for a 35-pound wash is either $3.75 or $4.50 (tie). The current price range for a 35-pound wash is $3.50 to $5.50.

Operators who responded to the survey charge a variety of prices for a 40-pound wash. The most popular, charged by one-third of respondents, is $4.50. Next in order are $5 and $4. The price range for this grouping is $3 to $7.

There is also a fairly wide range of prices charged for a 50-pound wash. The majority of operators charge either $5 or $5.50, followed by $5.25, $5.75 or $6. Prices for a 50-pound wash range between $4.50 and $6.25.

Prices for a 55-pound wash currently range from $5.25 to $8.50.

The most popular price for a 60-pound wash is $6.50, so there’s been no change there since last year. Other popular choices among the respondents are $5, $6, $6.25, $7.25 and $8.

For an 80-pound wash, the most popular price is $8.50, followed by $9 or $9.25. Prices charged by operators today range from as low as $7 to as high as $9.39.

Other prices reported include $6, $8.25 or $11.25 for a 75-pound wash; $9.75 for a 90-pound wash; and $11.50 for a 100-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 150-pound wash.

DRYER PRICES

Operators were asked to provide their current prices for their dryers in cents per minute. As in previous years, a variety of responses was reported.

The 25 cents-for-10 minutes price, once an industry staple but not reported in last year’s survey, has made a resurgence. It tied with 25-for-7 (or 7.5) as the current most popular price. In comparison, last year’s most popular price, 25-for-5, was reported by less than 10% of respondents this year.

Another popular price currently is 25-for-8 (or 8.3).

CHARGING MORE?

American Coin-Op asked respondents if they have already raised washer and/or dryer prices in 2016, or if they plan to do so before the end of the year.

Regarding washer prices, the majority of respondents (54.8%) say they have already raised prices, or intend to do so, by the end of the year. Close to 29% say they have no such plans, while 16.7% are undecided.

Regarding their decision to raise washer prices, many operators say they implemented the increase to cope with higher utilities cost, particularly water.

One respondent gave a dire prediction if his/her higher washer prices don’t generate enough additional income.

“I’m at the point of not being able to meet fixed expenses,” this operator writes. “If increased washer prices (do) not improve the financial situation, I’ll close.”

Regarding dryer prices, more than two-thirds of respondents (67.4%) say they have not raised prices, or do not have plans to do so by the end of the year. Roughly 21% say they have such plans, while 11.6% are undecided.

Among those who have raised, or plan to raise, dryer prices this year, higher utilities cost, installation of new equipment or the desire to keep up with competitors were among the reasons cited most often.

Check back Monday for trends in coin- or card-operated stores, 2015 equipment purchases and what operators will be shopping for in 2016!

Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.

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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