CHICAGO — Coin-operated laundry equipment has been the standard for years but the use of digital, cashless payment continues to surge as consumers become more entrenched in its conveniences. But what’s involved in converting a coin-based operation to one whose payment acceptance is based on credit/debit/store value card or a mobile device?
In some fashion, converting to card or mobile payment must involve installing equipment designed to accept the alternate payment form. But what else need be done, from the owner’s perspective?
“The store owner would have made a number of critical decisions regarding the alternative payment method by the time installation of the system commences,” says Wayne Lewis, CEO of ESD Inc., which makes products for card and mobile payment. “These would have included what system to install, whether it is installed on all or part of the store’s machines, and the setup of any merchant account required.”
“For the store owner, all they need to provide is high-speed internet,” says John Kelly, director of sales for Setomatic Systems’ SpyderWash, which provides card and mobile payment among its options. “This can be through their local internet provider or using a cellular modem. (Setomatic) provides all other required hardware and software needed to interface with the washers/dryers.”
Steve Marcionetti is president of Card Concepts Inc. (CCI), which makes products for card and mobile payment. For a payment conversion to be successful, the store owner should have a plan to market the new system and train staff and customers, he believes.
“Even though most systems today are easy to use, regular customers can sometimes be averse to change and require a little extra attention,” he says. “Having adequately trained the staff on how the system works will make it much easier for the customers to adapt and utilize the system. Even if you are normally unattended, it would be wise to plan on having someone available during peak periods to provide guidance.”
For KioSoft and its card and mobile payment products, Stacey Cooper, general manager – retail, says the salesperson or distributor works closely with the laundromat operator to “determine the hardware that is needed based on (their) preference as well as the machine types on-site. Owners should consider what they want to accomplish, how they want to accept payments (laundry card vs. pay at the machine vs. app only vs. combination).”
“Once hardware installation and account setup is complete, the most important step for a store owner to take is to educate their staff and customers on the new solution,” says Steve White, SMB sales manager for PayRange.
“I think the most important aspect of planning is ensuring that the store is adequately staffed for the first couple of weeks after the conversion,” says Oleg Stepanov, business development manager for Mitech Integrated Systems, developer of the Laundroworks card system. “Although Laundroworks is an extremely simple system to use, it is still a change for the customers.”
How long it takes to convert from one payment form to another, or to add a payment option beyond coins, depends on a variety of factors, both related to the store and to the system being implemented.
“The time it takes for an installation really depends on how many machines are being converted,” Kelly says. “The distributor usually handles the installation of the system, which typically takes one to two days. Another main factor is what day/time the installation takes place, as it’s much faster and easier when (the) store is not busy with customers.”
“Most installations take less than a day and do not require the owner to close the store,” Stepanov says of his company’s Laundroworks system.
“There are a number of factors that affect the length of time a conversion takes to completion, including the type of system being installed and whether the installation is to be performed while the store remains operational or whether it will be closed during installation,” Lewis says. “Many store upgrades are completed in one or two days, provided there are no extenuating circumstances such as incorrect interfaces/components received or service personnel scheduling.”
“The administrative onboarding process can take up to two weeks, provided that documents and paperwork are completed promptly,” says Cooper. “As with any aspect of your business, proper planning is essential, but planning is nothing to fear. … A successful conversion to (or addition of) payment technology for a laundromat can be accomplished very quickly with knowledgeable guidance.”
“Conversion to an alternative payment system depends on what kind of system is being installed and what make and model machine is being converted,” Marcionetti says. “Some systems can retrofit into the existing coin openings on the machine, others require that holes be drilled into the machine to hold the hardware. If drilling is required, then more time will be required; we find that it can take between 10-30 minutes per device based on these factors.”
“With PayRange, it is common for store owners to be fully up and running within a week or two of placing their order,” White says. “The PayRange system is (do-it-yourself), self-install easy, with the average store owner able to install the system on all machines in a single day. There is no extensive account setup or other utilities involved.”
Check back Thursday for Part 2: Extent of conversion, and significance of instructional signage
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].