CHICAGO — The success of any self-service laundry is based in large part on the availability and performance of its equipment. And while washers and dryers can be considered “equals,” it’s the dryers that customers use last and perhaps remember best, whether positively or negatively.
Therefore, dryer maintenance is of great importance. But just how much should you do yourself and how much should you leave to the “professionals”?
American Coin-Op invited representatives from the industry’s dryer manufacturers to answer questions to tell us what the average store owner should maintain themselves and where to draw the line. This concludes our four-part series.
Q: Is it possible to quantify the amount of money the average store owner could save per year if he/she maintains a consistent preventive maintenance schedule for his/her store’s dryers?
Russ Cooper, manager of technical service, Dexter Laundry: While the dryers will run more efficiently with proper maintenance, it’s hard to quantify the exact amount of savings. The more important variable is how much that dryer costs you if it is out of order due to lack of maintenance. Not only are your customers unable to use the machine, which prevents them from paying you, it’s also the last thing that your customers experience before leaving your store. You want that experience to be nothing but positive to keep them coming back and recommending you to more customers.
Aaron Burningham, laundry sales and service consultant, Evans Commercial Laundry Equipment, a Speed Queen distributor: It is possible for each Laundromat owner to derive their own cost savings of self-based service vs. having a service company do their work, but there are a lot of factors involved in doing so. By calling and getting the rates of service companies and comparing it to time you spend doing it yourself, you can put yourself somewhat close. If you have a service company do the maintenance, then start doing it yourself, account for your time and compare.
Gary Clark, product performance and training manager, Continental Girbau: I’m not exactly sure how much they might save, but based on my 40 years of experience, I would guess between 15-30% if it is done correctly.
Mike Besaw, director of technical services, Alliance Laundry Systems, for Huebsch: The main reason to keep up with dryer maintenance is to keep customers happy and coming back. Customers may opt to go elsewhere when dryers perform poorly due to plugged lint screens or vent systems, don’t have proper makeup air, don’t properly dry or dry slowly. Keeping up with consistent preventative maintenance can also help with utilities. For example, if the makeup openings are plugged, the dryer will draw air from either the heated or air-conditioned portion of the laundry, which will cost the laundry owner in cooling or heating expenses depending on time of year.
Gary Brown, vice president of engineering, Laundrylux, distributor for Electrolux and Wascomat: Many malfunctions result out of poor maintenance practices, and especially out of poor installation of equipment. If we compare a customer’s warranty claims between locations that we know to have good installation and professional maintenance characteristics to one that doesn’t, the warranty claim ratio is more than three to one.
Chris Brick, product and brand training manager, Maytag® Commercial Laundry and American Dryer: It’s not easy to quantify specific savings; however, consistent maintenance can help machines perform better, which ultimately can mean less service calls are needed — helping to improve an owner’s bottom line.
Eric Quandt, product manager, Alliance Laundry Systems, for Primus: There is not a way to quantify the savings. It’s like with your car — the better you take care of it and do the proper preventative maintenance (i.e., routine oil changes), the better shape it will be in and the longer it will last.
Q: What are the signs that a store has a good dryer preventive maintenance program in place?
Clark: Just check behind the dryers or open the front cover where the burner box is located and see how well-kept they are. Keeping dryers and washers clean — and the area around them clean — is the first thing I would look for. This tells you a lot about their program.
Jay Klemm, product manager, Alliance Laundry Systems, for Primus: The only thing that is noticeable is dryer cleanliness. If a dryer is cleaned properly, it’s probably well-maintained. Also, it will dry more efficiently, and the owner will be more profitable if the dryer is running well from proper maintenance. Going too long without proper maintenance could affect the dryer performance.
Cooper: Quite simply, lint is removed and all dryers are working.
Besaw: No customer complaints about slow or uncompleted drying translates to happy and repeat customers. Keeping the cylinders clean from items that have melted and are stuck on the cylinder will also go a long way for customer satisfaction, as no one wants to dry their freshly washed clothes in a dirty dryer that could cause marking.
Brick: If dryers are in working order, have consistent dry times and are free of lint buildup in and around the machine, chances are there’s a good preventative maintenance program in place.
Burningham: Three signs that show a store has a good dryer preventative maintenance program in place: 1. The Laundromat is usually steady with customers. 2. No machines are marked out of order; if they are out of order, you can generally see if it’s recent or been a while by markings or clutter surrounding the dryers. 3. The store will generally appear clean. If the owner takes pride in his/her store, he/she will take pride in the machines.
Brown: Laundry customers are very satisfied with the drying times they are experiencing. Laundry owners are pleased that their laundry turns customers over faster, dryers are not a “bottleneck,” and energy costs are a reasonable percentage of revenue. The effects are rather profound.