CHICAGO — Confidence is not usually lacking when speaking with laundry operators. Most seem to boast about the stores they run. Surprisingly, half of the respondents to the most recent Wire survey are not pleased with the overall condition of their laundries. Forty-three percent of respondents are pleased with the condition of their stores, while 7% are not sure about the quality of their stores.BEST FEATURESOperators were asked, “What is your store’s best feature?” The No. 1 response (35.5%) is “The equipment is always up and running,” closely followed by “It’s a very clean store” (32.3%).IT COULD BE BETTERTwenty-five percent (the No. 1 response) say a lack of customer amenities is their store’s weakest point.MOST DIFFICULT CHALLENGESDealing with utility costs (36.8%) was the past year’s top challenge. In terms of the No. 2 challenge, attendant-related issues, finding the money to buy new equipment and a dwindling customer base were neck and neck. Too many out-of-order signs on the equipment and struggling to keep the store clean rounded out the list.WHAT ABOUT THE COMPETITION?How do you stack up against your competitors? Thirty-two percent of respondents believe their laundry is the best around, while 41.9% believe their laundry is one of the best around. Twenty-three percent believe their laundry is no better or worse than the competition, and only 3.2% say all of the competing stores are better than their store.What do you notice when you visit the competition? Nearly 55% of respondents notice if the store is clean or dirty. Twenty-six percent of respondents look to see how many people are in the laundry.WISH LISTYou can dream, can’t you? What would you do if you were given the money to make one major improvement at your laundry? New equipment is the top choice. Forty-two percent of respondents would take the money and add some new washers and/or dryers. The No. 2 response is giving the interior a facelift (new paint, new tile, lighting, etc.). Giving the laundry an exterior facelift is the next most popular answer. Other “wish list” improvements include adding customer amenities (more seating, etc.), and bringing in a top-flight repairman.