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Coin-Op 101: The Upside of Full-Cycle Tumbler Pricing (Part 1)

This type of pricing plays to laundry operation flexibility

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — What really makes the laundry business great is the flexibility that comes with it. Though all successful stores are committed to taking care of customers, there are virtually infinite ways to create and manage the “experience.” Owners can decide what amenities to offer based on their clientele and market. The variations of store sizes and machine capacity offerings alone are examples of just how much this business is not one-size-fits-all.

Then there are payment systems — coin, card, dollar coin, app-based payment systems, credit card, loyalty card — talk about flexible. Of course, behind all of that is the pricing of equipment. It will be dictated a little by the market, but also by the store itself. No longer is it a bad thing to be the “high-price leader.” Owners today understand that if they offer a truly exceptional experience, above what the competition has, they don’t have to compete on price. The success of such an approach bears out in customers’ willingness to pay more for a better overall experience.

This philosophy is a change from the mentality of 10 or 15 years ago. Another transition we are seeing in our market with new and retooled stores is a move toward full-cycle pricing on tumble dryers.


It’s about giving customers something new, so owners thinking about switching to full-cycle pricing without changing out equipment or performing some significant upgrades should reconsider. This is a major shift and may end up ill-received by customers. However, for a new store or one having undergone a major equipment retool, it may be the way to go.

So why go this route? Quite simply, it plays to that flexibility theme. For years, drying has been by 25-cent increments, which is limiting. Jumping from 25 cents for seven or eight minutes of drying time to 50 cents is a giant leap, and a shock to customers. We have all seen owners continue to bear the burden of increased expenses on the drying side, waiting until the last possible minute to either raise the price, lower the minutes or even dial back the heat. The bottom line is that this is revenue they will not get back.

By contrast, if an owner starts out with full-cycle pricing at $1.50, a move to $1.75 incrementally is much smaller as a percentage increase. Starting from a higher number just gives owners more options to adjust prices, and this is especially true if the store has a card or app-based payment system that allows increases of less than a quarter. Optically, to the customer, it’s just not that big of a deal.


The nice thing about full-cycle pricing on the drying side is that customers are already paying a full-cycle price on the wash side. It just makes sense.

In addition, with the proper communication and signage, you can help ensure your customers are pairing the correct tumble dryer to match the washer-extractor. This will also help to make sure the dryers are properly loaded to obtain the most efficient drying cycle, which helps increase customer satisfaction (the load is dry at the end of the cycle the majority of the time).

An additional benefit is properly matched and loaded tumblers get customers in and out faster. They aren’t splitting loads up into multiple drying pockets and creating a bottleneck. The end result is being able to handle more turns per day.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion!

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(Image: © iStockphoto/KasiaJanus)

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].