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Extra, Extra: What Else Can You Offer Waiting Customers?

Paul Partyka |

Laundry owners are constantly experimenting with extra profit centers, although it’s not unusual for these same owners to be a bit conservative with them. After all, space is at a premium in most laundries, and do you want to sink a lot of money into an untested business venture?Here’s a brief look at some ways to bring in additional revenue to your store.LOOKING GOODTanning beds have proven profitable for some operators, especially ones located in the eastern part of the country.Tanning can attract a widespread audience, including many of the same people who frequent self-service laundries, surveys show. Tanning is especially popular among females 18-49.Finding the space for a tanning bed or two might be challenging. Do you have the room for a tanning bed? Standard tanning beds require an area covering 9 feet by 7 feet. Larger units require up to 10 feet by 10 feet. The price for a standard tanning bed can range from $3,995 to $7,995.If you go this route, maintenance shouldn’t be a major concern. Tanning beds manufactured in the 1980s are still in use today. All units require basic maintenance, such as replacing lamps, ballasts or fans, from time to time. Typically, if you keep the unit clean and free of dust, you should enjoy years of low-maintenance reliability.Standard tanning beds cost between 30 cents and 50 cents per session to operate — which includes lamp use and electrical consumption. The larger units cost between 75 cents and $1.50 per use. Session costs (on average) are $3 to $5 for a base tanning bed, and $15-$20 for the larger tanning beds. Owners are urged to sell tanning services by the month. A 30-day convenience package on a base unit typically goes for $25-$40 per month. The idea is to sell packages that force the customer to adjust to your business hours.Seventy percent of salon revenue is generated between January and June. However, selling monthly memberships allows cash flow to remain consistent throughout the year.When adding a tanning bed, the owner can also sell lotions, shower gels, etc. These items typically contribute to 15% of the gross sales, and are said to have high profit margins (50-60%).In a tanning salon, the average tanning bed reportedly generates $15,000 per year. If a laundry were to offer a full year of tanning for $150 — and just 100 of your customers purchased it — it would produce $15,000.SATISFY A CRAVINGIf you’re sitting in a laundry for more than an hour, it’s awfully hard to resist the lure of a vending machine. Is there a way to increase your vending profits without making a huge investment? The answer is yes.What about selling nacho chips? If you attend sporting events, for example, you can see how popular this snack has become. One nacho-chip unit with a 23-pound capacity is only 15½ inches wide by 12½ inches deep by 23½ inches high, and requires 90 watts.If you want a different warm snack, why not add a popcorn popper? A variety of popcorn poppers, in all sizes, are available. Popcorn poppers can remove virtually 100% of all oil vapors, steam and smoke. All that is left is the aroma of freshly popping corn. Hot pretzels are another warm snack to consider.Don’t ignore cold items. A Sno-Kone can satisfy the tastes of many. One lightweight Sno-Kone unit is only 33.6 inches high by 35.6 inches wide by 19 inches deep, and runs on a standard 15-amp plug.Hot dogs are an American snack tradition. Compact steamers and grills are available with a variety of features. For example, one grill takes hot dogs from frozen to sales-ready in just 30 minutes, or from room temperature to ready in 20 minutes.The cost for the above-mentioned equipment varies, but it can start as low as $150 to $500 (supplies are extra).TAKE A SEATIf people are going to sit around your laundry, you might as well offer them some comfort — and a unique vending opportunity. A host of vending massaging chairs are available. The price range varies, although a number of models start at around $1,000.One of them, The Back Massager, is 36 inches wide by 45 inches high by 40 inches deep, and features two motors. One person can easily assemble the chair, the manufacturer says. Customers can enjoy the six massage rollers, with three massage modes (kneading, rolling and S-motion), plus a leg- and glute-massage mode (vibration only).The massage timing is set for $1 per three minutes, and is adjustable. The amount of money generated by the chair depends on the laundry’s foot traffic. Many of the customers claim to earn $400 to $600 per month, per chair. Here’s one revenue estimate: one chair used for 20 minutes per day, per month, will generate $300 in earnings.INEXPENSIVE ENTERTAINMENTRenting a movie still provides enjoyment at a reasonable cost, yet many video stores are closing. People are simply finding more convenient ways to rent a movie. DVD kiosks are popping up at various businesses. Would a DVD kiosk at your store grab the attention of customers?Generally, kiosks hold 75 to 600 DVDs, and can be as small as 24 inches wide and 72 inches high. Operators can secure their own DVDs. You can get DVDs from retailers like Wal-Mart or Best Buy, or get them from wholesale movie distributors.A typical power requirement is 110V 50/60 Hz. Operators can manage most kiosk functions through the Internet, except for physically loading and unloading movies. For example, owners can load movie information, rates and prices online from the comfort of a home office.In addition to renting or even selling DVDs, kiosk owners can also sell or rent other items, such as video games, software, CDs, etc. For customer convenience, membership-card or credit-card acceptance can be offered.Leasing options are also available from a number of companies. The kiosk costs vary greatly due to the wide variety of models available.SUN Ergoline supplied the tanning-bed information. For more information on tanning beds, call 888-771-0996 or e-mail ergoline@sunergoline.com. If you’re interested in the massage chair, check out www.thebackmassager.com. 

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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