CHICAGO — In today’s interconnected world, vended laundry operators have come to realize the power of smart tools that help them remotely direct and improve operations during those times when they can’t—or don’t wish to—visit their business in person.
Security systems, surveillance systems, HVAC thermostats, automatic door locks, payment systems, point of sale (POS) systems and now sophisticated management platforms integrated into laundry equipment are just some of the remote access and management tools being used by today’s self-service laundry owners.
In 2017, Jack Nolan opened Express Wash and Go in Cohoes (pronounced kuh-hoes), New York, north of the state capital of Albany. The unattended self-service laundry has 17 washers and 19 dryers and accepts cash payment.
He chose an equipment brand offering a cloud-based technology suite that accepts payments, controls machines and enables owners to manage their operation from afar.
“It was an upgrade to the machine at the time and I was more than happy to pay the premium to get that kind of connectivity,” Nolan says. “I don’t know if I was the first, but I was one of the first, I believe, to gain access.”
Owners can access all of their wash/dry business data — financial, operational, customer, service, machine and maintenance — in a single full-circle view.
“I recognize just from my business acumen that data is essential in really understanding the performance of your business,” Nolan says. “What you’re doing right, what you can do better, and where the strengths and weaknesses are.”
James Radovic owns two fully attended stores in the Florida communities of Jupiter and Stuart that offer self-service and wash/dry/fold (the Jupiter store also offers pickup and delivery), and you’d be hard-pressed to find an area of his operation that he’s not able to access or control electronically.
There’s the fully functional POS system for WDF, commercial, and pickup/delivery accounts; accounting software for all of the financial recording; surveillance systems at both locations (including two styles of cameras for multiple views and different response capabilities); and remote desktop software that enables him to see and update all linked systems from his computer or mobile phone 24 hours a day.
“In almost all of these areas, we tried a bunch of different systems and ended up with what we did based on what really seemed to work well at the time,” he says. “We’ve added to it as we’ve gone on.”
Radovic then added an iPhone with FaceTime to the “tools” list he’d emailed to American Coin-Op earlier, because he often uses his to converse with attendants in store about machine issues and the like.
He’s not concerned about growing so dependent on his management tools that he resists visiting his stores in person, but...
“I don’t know if it’s a concern but it’s absolutely the truth,” Radovic says. “I don’t go out as often as I used to because I can see so much and fix so much and do so much remotely. … I go up (to Stuart) maybe once every couple of weeks.”
Steve and Doris Davison set several conditions for themselves upon opening the Country Washboard Laundromat in Burns, Ore., four years ago.
They included payment acceptance by card to curtail vandalism, the pledge to clean the unattended store nightly, and the promise that they wouldn’t “live there,” says Steve. That necessitated a good surveillance system and remote access to all vital store functions.
“We have eight cameras that are accessible from our phones,” he says. “All lights, overhead fans, entry door lock, water for hanging flower baskets, and HVAC are controlled via internet. Most power up automatically, but I choose to open the front door manually from wherever I am (usually in my La-Z-Boy recliner). I always check the cameras at the same time to make sure all is in order.”
Check back Tuesday for the conclusion...
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