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2016-2017 State of the Self-Service Laundry Industry (Part 2)

63% have raised, or intend to raise, washer prices by year’s end

CHICAGO — Do you wonder how your self-service laundry business measures up to others in the industry? Did you have a “good” year or a “bad” year in 2016? Is your pricing comparable with others?

You can find the answers to questions like these and more in American Coin-Op’s annual State of the Industry survey. Its results offer store owners and operators a valuable opportunity to compare their operation to others in the industry.

This year’s survey focused on 2016-17 business conditions, pricing, equipment, common challenges, turns per day, and utilities cost.

When asked about their 2016 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.

The survey was an unscientific, online poll of American Coin-Op subscribers who operate stores. Some percentages may not equal 100% due to rounding or other factors.


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

Approximately 71% of operators offer top loaders at their store(s). 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 (34.6%)

2. $2.50 (15.4%)

3. $2.75 (13.5%)

Prices for a top loader are fairly similar to most popular prices last year, as the $2 price is once again the most popular for a top-load wash. The price of $2.50 moved up one spot, from No. 3 to No. 2. The price of $2.75, which was not among the most popular prices reported last year, is now No. 3.

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

  • 18 pounds: $2.50
  • 20 pounds: $2.50
  • 25 pounds: $3

The lowest price reported in this group is $2 (18-pound washer) while the highest price is $5 (25-pound washer).

The price range for a 30-pound wash is $2.75 to $5.50. Following are the most popular 30-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who use them:

1. $3.50 or $4 (tie, 26.2% each)

3. $4.25 (9.5%)

The price range for a 35-pound wash is $3.25 to $5.50. Following are the most popular 35-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who use them:

1. $4 or $4.25 (tie, 24% each)

3. $3.75 (16%)

Of all the washer capacities, the 40-pounder has the broadest range of pricing, with 15 different base prices listed by respondents. The price range is $3.50 to $7.25. Following are the most popular 40-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who use them:

1. $5 (14.9%)

2. $4 or $4.50 (tie, 12.8%)

Operators who responded to the survey charge a variety of prices for a 50-pound wash. The most popular is a tie between $5.50 and $6, with each amount being charged by 25.9% of respondents. The price range for this grouping is $4 to $7.

Prices for a 55-pound wash currently range from $5 to $9.

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

Prices charged by operators for a 75-pound wash today range from as low as $7 to as high as $12. There is no clear No. 1 choice among this year’s respondents.

The most popular price for an 80-pound wash is $8.50, followed by $8, then a tie between $7.50 and $8.25. Prices charged by operators today range from as low as $6.50 to as high as $10.40.

Other wash prices reported were $7.50 and $10 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 125- or 150-pound washes.


Operators were asked to provide their current prices for their dryers as “25 cents for X minutes.” As in previous years, a variety of responses was reported.

Most popular among this year’s respondents—at 29.2%—is 25 cents for 6 minutes. Close behind is 25-for-7 (21.5%). The 25-for-10 price that tied with 25-for-7 for most popular in last year’s survey was reported by just 3% of respondents this year.

Other popular prices this year are 25-for-5 and 25-for-8.


American Coin-Op asked respondents if they have already raised washer and/or dryer prices in 2017, or if they plan to do so before the end of the year.

Regarding washer prices, the majority of respondents (63%) say they have already raised prices, or intend to do so, by the end of the year. Slightly more than 27% say they have no such plans, and 9.6% are undecided.

Regarding their decision to raise washer prices, many operators say they implemented the increase to cope with higher utilities cost, particularly water. Others say it was done after they had upgraded equipment.

Regarding dryer prices, more than 71% of respondents say they have not raised prices, nor do they plan to do so by the end of the year. Roughly 12% say they have such plans, and 16.4% are undecided.

Our analysis continues Tuesday with 2016 equipment purchases and what operators will be shopping for in 2017!

Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.

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(Photo: © iStockphoto/Rasica)

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].