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Despite Tough Times, Optimism Prevails

Paul Partyka |

How are your fellow operators coping in these challenging times? While the focus was on numbers, percentages and purchases in the annual State of the Industry story, plenty of survey respondents shared their thoughts about the state of the self-service laundry industry.We thought it would be interesting to share with you what some of your fellow operators had to say about the business. Based on the number of operators who reported a decrease in business last year, I expected a higher percentage of negative comments. That wasn’t the case. The positive comments outweighed the negative comments by about two to one. Here’s just a sampling of what the respondents had to say.THE GOOD

  • “It can be challenging at times and gratifying at other times. All in all, I enjoy it. It sure beats working for a living.” — A Florida operator
  • “I wish I had been in this business 30 years ago!” — A Georgia operator
  • “The laundry need will always be there. However, a more complete, one-stop laundry service would be more beneficial to everyone.” — A Hawaiian operator
  • “This is a good industry. Smaller stores and poorly run stores will continue to close their doors, and newer, better stores will replace them. I am optimistic about this industry.” — An Illinois operator
  • “We really like the industry. We just wish we knew where to turn and who to talk to when we first bought this particular store, because we paid too much for it.” — An Illinois operator
  • “I love this business. It’s been 11 years and I’m still going strong.” — A Minnesota operator
  • “We have found the Laundromat business to be recession-acceptant. We have not a seen a drop in business, but instead an increase in business.” — A Minnesota operator
  • “I think this industry has improved substantially in the 30 years I’ve been involved. We still have to keep improving.” — A New York operator
  • “It’s a great time to be in business. The good stores will flourish and the bad stores will disappear.” — An Ohio operator
  • “Our industry will stay strong if we provide what our customers want: clean, working laundries at a fair price.” — A Pennsylvania operator
  • “The health of the industry is good, and it has a good future. I think that in the future we will see fewer small coin-ops because taxes, rents and utility costs will be too great for those who cannot keep pace.” — A Tennessee operator
  • “I think it is still a good business and should be for some time, but owners need to be more aware of utility costs as a percentage of gross and raise their vend prices accordingly.” — A Tennessee operator
  • “I think the services we provide are important, and are not ever likely to diminish as far as demand goes.” — A Wisconsin operator

THE BAD

  • “There are too many unattended, low-quality stores in the area. Low prices draw a large segment of customers, and make it harder to run a quality operation.” — An Arizona operator
  • “When ordering parts, the wait time is too long — up to four months for simple parts.” — An Arizona operator
  • “It stinks.” — An Arizona operator
  • “This has become a young man’s business because of the need for owner participation.” — An Arkansas operator
  • “The economy is having a big impact. Some of my laundry customers have stated that they still need to do the wash, but they will wear certain clothes two to three times more before washing them.” —An Illinois operator
  • “I think opening a new store with new equipment in a rented building would be a no-win situation today unless it was in an excellent area and the owner doesn’t mind working for free.” — An Indiana operator
  • “Too many competitors are operating with charity vend prices. Some have not raised any prices in four years.” — A Michigan operator
  • “The utility costs have become ridiculous.”— A New Jersey operator
  • “In south Jersey, most towns are maxed out! Distributors keep pushing to open new stores, giving rosy proforma income projections, which turn out to be false.” — A New Jersey operator
  • “Going out and buying $200,000 worth of equipment is not the answer either. The notes would kill me.” — A North Carolina operator
  • “There will be many Laundromats that will close this year unless landlords lower the rents.” — An Ohio operator
  • “The industry could do better to promote itself to the public about the benefits laundries offer. Unfortunately, there are still operators out there who have terrible stores, and there’s the public perception that all coin laundries are that way.” — A Pennsylvania operator
  • “Since the first of the year, my business is down 60%.” — A Wisconsin operator

About the author

Paul Partyka

American Coin-Op

Paul Partyka was editor of American Coin-Op from 1997 through May 2011.

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