CHICAGO — I’m sure you chart the course of your self-service laundry business month by month, but wouldn’t you like to know how your store measures up to others in the industry? Did you have a “good” year or a “bad” year in 2017, comparatively speaking? Is your pricing strategy in line with others?
The answers to questions like these and more can be found in American Coin-Op’s annual State of the Industry survey, which offers store owners and operators a valuable opportunity to compare their operation to others in the industry.
This year’s survey focused on 2017-18 business conditions, pricing, equipment, common challenges, turns per day, and utilities cost.
When asked about their 2017 business results, respondents 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 readers who operate stores. Some percentages may not equal 100% due to rounding or other factors.
HOW MUCH FOR A WASH?
Respondents were also asked to report how much they charge for a variety of washes.
Approximately 61% of operators offer top loaders at their store(s). The price range for a top-load wash is $1.25 to $3.75.
Here are the most popular top-load prices, followed by the percentage of respondents using them:
1. $2 (25%)
2. $2.50 (15.9%)
3. $2.75 (13.6%)
2018 prices for a top loader mirror the most popular prices of last year, as the $2 price is once again the most popular for a top-load wash. The $2.50 and $2.75 prices also finished two-three in 2017.
The most popular prices for some of the small front loaders are:
- 18 pounds: $2.50
- 20 pounds: $2.75
- 25 pounds: $3 or $3.50 (tie)
The lowest price reported in this group is $1.75 (18-pound washer) while the highest price is $4.25 (recorded for both 20 pounds and 25 pounds).
The price range for a 30-pound wash is $2.75 to $5. Following are the most popular 30-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who use them:
1. $4 or $4.25 (tie, 17.9% each)
3. $3.25 or $4.50 (tie, 12.8% each)
The price range for a 35-pound wash is $4 to $5.50. Following are the most popular 35-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who use them:
1. $4 or $4.50 (tie, 27.2% each)
3. $4.75 (18.1%)
The price range for a 40-pound wash is $3.75 to $7. Following are the most popular 40-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who use them:
1. $4.50 (23.1%)
2. $4.75 (13.5%)
3. $5 (9.6%)
The price range for a 50-pound wash is $5 to $7.50. Following are the most popular 50-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who use them:
1. $6 (28.6%)
2. $5.50 (23.8%)
3. $5.75 (19.0%)
Prices for a 55-pound wash currently range from $5 to $9.
Of all the washer capacities, the 60-pounder has the broadest pricing, with 15 different base prices listed by respondents (by comparison, in last year’s survey, it was the 40-pounder).
The price range is $5 to $9.50. The most popular price for a 60-pound wash is $6.50 (charged by 25.0%), so there’s been no change there in the last three years. Second is $7 (13.6%), and there is a tie for third between $6.75 or $8 (11.4% each).
Prices charged by operators for a 75-pound wash today range from as low as $7.75 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 (26.1%), followed by $8 (17.4%), then a tie between $8.75 or $10 (8.7% each). Prices charged by operators today range from as low as $6.25 to as high as $11.
Prices charged by operators for a 100-pound wash today range from as low as $7.75 to as high as $12.75, not all that different from those reported in the 80-pound category. There is no clear No. 1 choice among this year’s respondents.
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 28.4%—is 25 cents for 6 minutes (also the top choice in last year’s survey). Second is 25-for-5 (20.9%), and third is 25-for-7 (19.4%).
American Coin-Op asked respondents if they have already raised washer and/or dryer prices in 2018, or if they plan to do so before the end of the year.
Regarding washer prices, the majority of respondents (44.4%) say they have already raised prices, or intend to do so, by the end of the year. Nearly 39% say they have no such plans, and 16.7% are undecided.
Supporting their decision to raise washer prices, many operators say they implemented (or will implement) the increase to cope with higher costs, among them utilities, rent and labor. Others say it was done after they had upgraded equipment.
Regarding dryer prices, 73.6% of respondents say they have not raised prices, nor do they plan to do so by the end of the year. Roughly 17% say they have plans to raise their prices, and 9.7% are undecided.
Our analysis continues Tuesday with 2017 equipment purchases and what operators will be shopping for in 2018!
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].