Annual Survey: Numbers Show Upswing in Distributor Biz Continues (Part 1)

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Nearly 70% of those polled say 2014 business better than 2013

CHICAGO — The upswing in distributor business appears to be continuing, as the majority polled in American Coin-Op’s annual Distributor Survey once again enjoyed better business than the previous year, and is expecting overall 2015 sales to outdistance those of 2014.

Nearly three-quarters of distributors polled (68.3%) say that business—including sales of newly constructed self-service laundries and replacement business—was better in 2014 compared to 2013. When it comes to sales projections, an even greater percentage (70.0%) believes 2015 sales will be better than 2014’s.

Roughly 10% of respondents say 2014 business was worse than 2013’s, while 21.9% say business has stayed the same.

Every distributor listed in the American Coin-Op Distributors Directory was invited to participate in this year’s unscientific survey, which charts 2014 business and makes comparisons to previous years.

2014 BUSINESS

This year, 68.3% of distributors polled said business was better in 2014 than 2013. That’s a significant bump in business performance, compared to results of the 2014 Distributor Survey, in which 53.7% of respondents said 2013 business was better than 2012’s. In the 2013 survey, 60% of respondents said 2012 business was better than 2011’s.

Those who experienced better business in 2014 attributed their performance to economic optimism, updated product design, population growth, store owners’ desire to replace outdated equipment, and a better overall business climate, among other reasons.

Those whose business suffered in 2014 said factors like competition amongst distributors, finding financially qualified investors, and a weak local economy took a toll on their business.

REPLACEMENT BUSINESS

Nearly three-quarters (73.2%) of distributors say their replacement business was up in 2014 compared to 2013. This is a vast improvement over the 52.5% who saw their replacement business increase in 2013 from 2012, the 51.4% who saw an increase in 2012 from 2011, and the 52.6% who saw an increase in 2011 from 2010.

Less than 10% (9.8%) of respondents saw 2014 replacement business decrease from that of 2013, while 17.1% say it remained unchanged.

NEW-LAUNDRY CONSTRUCTION

Distributors were asked to weigh in on how many new laundries they built and/or to which they supplied equipment in 2014.

Like the other metrics, business performance in this area was on the rise, with 69.2% of respondents reporting they built or supplied equipment to three or fewer new laundries in 2014. This compares to approximately 54% in 2013, 55% in 2012, 54% in 2011 and 56% in 2010.

The actual number of new laundries distributors were involved with in some fashion in 2014 ran the gamut from just a single store to one respondent reporting his/her company dealt with 67 stores.

Below is a rundown of the most popular answers from this year’s survey:

1. 2

2. 0, 3 and 4 (tie)

5. 6

Roughly 48% of distributors surveyed said their new-construction total for 2014 was higher than the previous year. Comparing to previous surveys, approximately 39% said their new-construction business was up for 2013; roughly 41% said it was up for 2012; approximately 39% said it was up in 2011; and about 41% saw a business increase in 2010.

Approximately 38% of distributors surveyed said their new-construction total for 2014 remained unchanged from 2013. That compares to roughly 43.9% of distributors reporting no change in 2013 from 2012 and 23.5% reporting no change in 2012 from 2011.

Fifteen percent of distributors said their new-construction total was lower in 2014 than in 2013, which changed little from the roughly 17% who reported lower new-construction totals in 2013 than in 2012. In the survey for 2012 business, 35.3% of distributors said new-construction totals were down from the previous year.

Check back Wednesday for Part 2, including equipment mix and store size trends!

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