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Future of the Industry

LAS VEGAS — While operators disagree on many industry subjects, most operators can probably agree on the fact that the coin laundry industry has undergone some significant changes in the last few years. Where is the industry heading?Brian Wallace, president/CEO of the Coin Laundry Assn. (CLA), discussed the future of the industry during a Clean Show educational session on Monday.After 60 years of service to the public, Wallace believes the industry has a better image than in the past in addition to having better stores offering more services. The industry is also benefiting from steady interest by new investors/entrepreneurs.However, Wallace says it’s difficult to objectively measure the current “status” of the industry because of fragmented ownership, a wide range of store performances, a wide range of local market conditions and a wide range of competency among operators.Today’s operator is seeing an increased cost of delivering service to customers. There is also significant turnover in store ownership nationwide and consumers have more choices when it comes to doing their laundry.Success, he says, depends on:

  • The need to re-equip stores
  • The need to raise vend prices on a regular basis
  • The need to become a savvier marketer
  • The need to further diversify store revenues

In the next decade operators need to become aware of:

  • Demographics
  • Trends in consumer habits
  • Energy/utility costs
  • Competition
  • Vend prices
  • Ancillary services
  • Industry image/public relations
  • Regulatory/legislative trends, and
  • Crisis management.

These are just some of the things you need to think about. Other things will emerge. For example, if you’ve been following the news you know that immigration is a major issue in this country. This can also have an impact on the coin laundry industry, he adds.So where will the coin laundry industry be in 2017? Wallace believes the individual operators will answer this question. He says the potential for both great success and great failure exists.For example, if you want to be upbeat, you can think about the fact that only 7% of U.S. households have visited a laundry this year and that only 20% to 30% of renter households use laundries. If you can capture more of these markets, things can be looking up. 

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].