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Annual Survey: Latest Numbers Reflect Continued Year-to-Year Improvement (Part 2)

Bruce Beggs |

Most popular dryer price is 25 cents/5 minutes

CHICAGO — How do you think your self-service laundry business compared to others in the industry last year? Did you have a good year or a bad year in 2012? How does your pricing compare to others?

American Coin-Op’s annual State of the Industry survey offers you the opportunity to compare your operation to others in the industry. It focuses on 2012/2013 business conditions, pricing, equipment, common problems, turns per day, and utilities cost.

In instances where respondents were asked about 2012 business results, they were given the opportunity to state their results were up, down or unchanged. This is a departure from surveys compiled in 2011 and earlier, when they were asked only if their business results were up or down. Keep this in mind as you are making comparisons to previous years’ polls.

The survey is an unscientific electronic poll of American Coin-Op readers who operate stores. Some percentages may not equal 100% due to rounding.

WASHER PRICES

American Coin-Op asked respondents about their current washer prices, and if they increased prices this year or planned on doing so by the end of the year.

More than 85% of respondents offer top loaders. The price range for a top-load wash is $1 to $4. The most expensive top-load wash was 50 cents more that last year’s top price.

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

  1. $2 (30.9%)
  2. $1.75 (16.5%)
  3. $2.25 and $2.50 (14.4% - tie)

There really isn’t much change in top-loader prices from a year ago. The $2 price remains the most popular, followed by $1.75. The only difference reported in this equipment type is in third place, where $1.50 and $2.25 were tied in last year’s survey.

An extremely small share of operators continue to charge $3 or more for a top-load wash. This is the third straight year that there have been multiple prices topping $3 reported in the survey.

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

  • 18 pounds: $2
  • 20 pounds: $2.50
  • 25 pounds: $3

The lowest price reported in the above grouping is $1.25 (18-pound washer) and the highest is $6 (25-pound washer). Overall, the most popular small-front-loader prices reported in this year’s survey are comparable to last year’s.

The price range for a 30-pound wash is $2 to $6.50. Here are the most popular 30-pound prices, along with the percentages of respondents using them:

  1. $3.50 (25%)
  2. $3 (19.1%)
  3. $3.75 (11.8%)

There was a tie between $3.50 and $3.75 for the most popular price for a 35-pound wash. Next in order are $4.50 and $3. The price range for a 35-pound wash is $2 to $5.50.

The most popular price for a 40-pound wash is $4, but $4.50 and $4.25 aren’t far behind. The most popular 50-pound wash price is $5, followed by $5.50 and $6. There was a three-way tie for the most popular price for a 55-pound wash: $5, $5.50 and $7.

The most popular price for a 60-pound wash is $6, unchanged from last year’s survey. The price range for an 80-pound wash is $5.75 to $13.50, with $8 and $8.25 tying as the most popular price.

Other prices reported were $9.75 and $15.25 for a 90-washer, $9.50 for a 100-pound washer and $14.99 for 125 pounds.

The operators to our survey vary year to year, so prices tend to vary. But the survey consistently has shown that operators offer a wide variety of front loaders (prices for 15 different capacities were logged in this year’s survey) with a broad price range.

Roughly 44% of respondents have raised or plan to raise washer prices this year, and 26.9% are undecided. The remaining 29.4% have not raised prices nor intend to do so.

DRYER PRICES

Raising dryer prices is something that operators have tended to shy away from, choosing instead to focus on washer price hikes. But it’s worth noting that some operators indicated that they have shortened cycle times in the past year. While customers in those stores aren’t paying a higher price, they are getting less drying per cycle.

Here are the most popular dryer prices, followed by the percentage of respondents using them:

  1. 25 cents/5 minutes (19.1%)
  2. 25 cents/7 minutes (18.3%)
  3. 25 cents/6 minutes (13.9%)
  4. 25 cents/8 minutes and 25 cents/10 minutes (10.4% - tie)

The No. 3 price from last year’s survey has jumped to No. 1 in this year’s. Seven minutes of drying time returned to the No. 2 slot after being bumped to No. 4 last year, while eight minutes of drying time fell from No. 2 last year to No. 4 this year, where it shared the spot with 10 minutes of drying time.

The 25-for-10 price, which was once an industry staple, picked up a couple of percentage points on last year’s result but still remains well down the list.

Once again, there was a wide variety of dryer prices reported. The most expensive (and longest) cycle was $1.75 for 35 minutes.

Roughly 18% of respondents have raised or plan to raise dryer prices this year, and 20.2% are undecided. The remaining 62.2% have not raised prices nor intend to do so.

PAYMENT TECHNOLOGY

More than 83% of respondents operate coin-only stores, 7.6% operate card-only stores, and 9.2% have operations that offer both payment types.

ATTENDED OR UNATTENDED?

Nearly 48% of respondents say their stores are fully attended. Roughly 29% say their stores are partially attended, and the remaining 23.1% say their stores are unattended.

DROP-OFF SERVICE PRICING

Drop-off-service pricing ranges from 70 cents to $3 per pound. Here are the most popular drop-off-service prices (per pound), followed by the percentage of respondents using them:

  1. $1 (36%)
  2. $1.25 (16%)
  3. $1.10 (9.3%)

The drop-off-service prices remain similar to 2012 prices, and there is a wide variety of prices charged for the service. There were 20 different prices charged per pound in the responses to our survey.

Two-thirds of the respondents offer drop-off service, which is identical to last year’s survey.

Check back on Wednesday for the conclusion: Equipment Purchasing Trends, Turns Per Day, Common Management Problems, and more

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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