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Equipment Innovation: Time for an Upgrade?

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Washer on dolly
Photo: ©iStockphoto.com/Talaj

John Sugg |

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — As a vended laundry owner, you know that utility costs are one of the top three expenses for your business. By replacing your out-of-date equipment with newer, energy-efficient machines and technologies, however, you can reduce those expenses and increase your profits.

Over the past decade, manufacturers have invested heavily in research and development to produce the most efficient and advanced equipment on the market today to help make your store more profitable.

Most laundry owners find that by retooling a store, they can increase profits up to 30%. Often, owners can command a higher vend price because they’ve made a significant investment in upgrading their store. Customers will frequent the laundry more often because of the newer, modern look, which will also attract new customers.

While many business owners are still hesitant to take on business improvement projects, there has never been a better time to do so than right now. By providing customers with the best equipment, your store will surely outperform the competition.

Top Loader vs. Front Loader

Washing machines have changed over the years. Many laundries are still using top-load washers. These machines typically use about 31.5 gallons of water per cycle. By switching to high-efficiency front loaders, water usage will be greatly reduced. New high-efficiency, front-load washing machines use only about 10.9 gallons of water per cycle, a 20.6 gallon decrease. The reduction in water alone will save your store at least 50% or more a year.

Replacing top-load washing machines with high-efficiency front-load machines is an easy upgrade. Front-load washing machines require the same plumbing, electrical service and footprint as a top loader.

Washer-Extractor Updates

Improvement in washer-extractors has also made these larger machines more attractive to store owners and the customers who use them. Newer machines have been redesigned to be flexible, offering significantly more options for the end-user.

For example, some washer-extractors offer a four-compartment dispenser that allows customers to add two detergents, bleach and fabric softener, all at the beginning of the cycle.

The major change is in the control platform. Washer-extractors purchased in the late 1990s and early 2000s only offered three settings—hot, warm or cold. With newer, advanced controls, these machines can be programmed to help make your store more profitable while offering customers more options. Cycle modifiers allow you to set premium prices for medium- and heavy-soiled clothing that needs to be washed longer. On average, at least 20% of customers choose premium wash cycles. This equates to a 4-5% increase in washer revenue.

Newer controls can also be programmed to give a free wash or a reduced wash after a predetermined number of cycles. This offers the opportunity to differentiate a store for marketing purposes, while also generating loyalty and excitement.

For the owner, advanced controls offer unparalleled ability to reduce water and energy costs through enhanced programmability. One of the most significant features that newer controls offer is the increased number of water-level options.

Typically, each fill within a given cycle can be adjusted on a scale of 1 to 30. You won’t want to compromise customer satisfaction, so make sure you try out different water levels to determine which ones are a good fit for your store and your customers. As utility costs continue to rise, this feature will be essential. You can adjust water levels to reduce the store’s monthly water and sewer bill.

Tumblers

A decade ago, natural gas was a low-cost commodity. But like other sources of energy, the cost of use continues to rise. Because of this trend, manufacturers have invested heavily to upgrade their dryers and tumblers to make them more efficient so that you can keep your operating expenses low.

Some single-pocket tumblers feature an axial airflow process that ensures heated air comes in contact with the load at the optimum time in the tumble process. They’re built with high-performance burners that ignite instantly, providing the desired temperature quickly and distributing heat evenly and efficiently.

In addition to the efficiency benefits, these advances also will contribute to improved throughput because customers won’t need to extend drying cycles during busy times.

Commercial-Quality Products

If you decide to retool your store, or even replace just a few pieces of equipment, make sure you’re choosing equipment that is manufactured for commercial use.

Some of you may have acquired existing stores that utilize machines designed for home use with a vended coin box, which means they’re more likely to require more maintenance and have a shorter lifespan.

For true success, use equipment manufactured by a company that has a legacy of providing machines and technology that stand up to any commercial challenge and that is the most profitable to own.

Equipping for Great Outcomes

Upgrading your machines to higher-efficiency equipment will help your store increase profits and lower operating costs. It will also infuse new energy into your business and generate excitement among customers.

There are finance programs available to help you make business improvements, and even substantial tax benefits if you act soon.

If you’re not sure where to start, contact your local distributor.

About the author

John Sugg

President and CEO, SAMCO

John Sugg is president/CEO of SAMCO, an equipment distributor based in Fayetteville, Ga. He can be reached at 800-969-7627 or john@southernautomatic.com.

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