CHICAGO — Was 2018 a “good” year or a “bad” year for you? Is your pricing strategy in line with other store owners? Surely you chart the results of your self-service laundry business month by month. But how do you know if you stack up favorably with other laundry owners across town or around the country?
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 2018-19 business conditions, pricing, equipment, common challenges, turns per day, and utilities cost.
When asked about their 2018 business results, respondents were given the opportunity to state whether their results were up, down or unchanged. This is a departure from pre-2012 surveys 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 asked to report how much they charge for a variety of washes.
Approximately 61% of operators—the same percentage as the 2018 survey—offer top loaders at their store(s). The price range for a top-load wash is $1 to $3.65.
Here are the most popular top-load prices, followed by the percentage of respondents using them:
1. $2.50 (27.3%)
2. $2.75 (18.2%)
3. $2 and $3 (tie, 12.1%)
2019 prices for a top loader are slightly higher than the most popular prices of last year. The $2.50 and $2.75 prices finished two-three in popularity behind $2 in 2018.
The most popular prices for some of the small front loaders are:
- 18 pounds: $2.50
- 20 pounds: $2.75
- 25 pounds: $3.00
The lowest price reported in this group is $1.50 (18-pound washer) while the highest price is $5.50 (25-pound washer).
The price range for a 30-pound wash is $2.25 to $5.55. Following are the most popular 30-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who use them:
1. $4.50 (20.7%)
2. $3, $3.50 and $4.25 (tie, 10.3%)
The price range for a 35-pound wash is $3.75 to $5.75. Following are the most popular 35-pound prices, along with percentages of operators who use them:
1. $4.25 (20%)
2. $4, $4.50 and $4.75 (tie, 13.3%)
The price range for a 40-pound wash is $3 to $7.35. Following are the most popular 40-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who use them:
1. $5 (16.2%)
2. $4.75, $5.50 and $6 (tie, 13.5%)
The price range for a 50-pound wash is $4.25 to $7. Following are the most popular 50-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who use them:
1. $6 and $6.50 (tie, 20%)
3. $5.50 and $5.75 (tie, 13.3%)
Prices for a 55-pound wash currently range from $4.50 to $9.
Of all the washer capacities, the 60-pounder has the broadest pricing, with 16 different base prices listed by respondents (by comparison, in last year’s survey, the number was 15).
The price range is $4.50 to $10. The most popular price for a 60-pound wash is $7, charged by 13.9% (the prior three years, the most popular price was $6.50). Second is a tie among $6, $6.75 and $8 (11.1% each).
Prices charged by operators for a 75-pound wash today range from as low as $6.50 to as high as $12. There is no clear No. 1 choice among this year’s respondents.
The price range for an 80-pound wash is $6.25 to $12.75. Following are the most popular 80-pound prices, along with the percentages of operators who use them:
1. $8.50 (17.4%)
2. $10 (13.0%)
3. $8, $8.25 and $9 (tie, 8.7%)
Prices charged by operators for a 100-pound wash today range from $7.75 to $8.75. One operator offers a 125-pounder for $20.
Operators who respond to our unscientific 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 traditional capacities, plus had the option to list others.
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 28.3%—is 25 cents for 6 minutes (also the top choice in the previous two surveys). Second is 25-for-5 (23.9%), and third is 25-for-7 (13.0%). The order of most popular dryer prices was unchanged from 2018.
American Coin-Op asked respondents if they have already raised washer and/or dryer prices in 2019, or if they plan to do so before the end of the year.
Regarding washer prices, the majority of respondents (49.1%) say they have already raised prices, or intend to do so, by the end of the year. Roughly 30% say they have no such plans, and the remaining 20.8% are undecided.
In support of 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. Many store owners raise prices annually based on their rising costs. But in some cases, it is the first time certain operators have raised prices in as much as five years.
Regarding dryer prices, 67.9% of respondents say they have not raised prices, nor do they plan to do so by the end of the year (an additional share of about 2% offers free drying). Roughly 17% say they have raised, or plan to raise, their dryer prices. The remaining 13.2% are undecided.
Coming in our conclusion on Thursday: Equipment purchasing trends and annual predictions
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.
Miss Part 2? You can read it HERE.