CHICAGO — Larger multi-load washers and dryers are all the rage these days but many self-service laundry customers still prefer using small models. How are today’s stores accommodating both?
American Coin-Op interviewed representatives from several manufacturer brands to get their thoughts on the large-capacity equipment trend, calculating an appropriate capacity mix, and the future of smaller machines. Part 1 addressed how greater interest in large-capacity machines has influenced vended equipment mix, and the changing share of large-capacity equipment in store development today.
Q: How might vend pricing play a role in influencing equipment capacity choices for store owners?
Joel Jorgensen, vice president of sales, Girbau North America: It’s pretty simple: larger-capacity machines equal higher vend prices and “extra cycle option” prices. A store owner will generate more revenue per square foot with larger machines.
King Lee, senior sales manager, Dexter Laundry: With the average vend price of a 60-pound washer in the range of $6.50 to $8, and their growing popularity, it’s easy to see why more store owners are taking out smaller-capacity machines for larger ones; you make more money with larger washers. It really comes down to a simple math exercise.
Al Adcock, vice president of sales & marketing, B&C Technologies: There is a fairly direct correlation between the size of the machine and the vend price, and if the store owner can attract a customer base for the larger machines, they can increase profitability by selling access to these larger machines.
Jennifer Butzlaff, Speed Queen business optimization director, Alliance Laundry Systems Distribution: Quite honestly, there’s a pretty direct connection: larger capacities equal larger revenues. The ramp-up period is over, and customers today generally don’t balk at a higher vend price on larger-capacity machines that they can fit all their laundry in one load. Talk to any owner with 100-pound washer-extractors and they’ll tell you they are constantly turning.
Norbert Cardenas, Huebsch regional sales representative, Alliance Laundry Systems Distribution – South: Vend pricing does play an important role in directing customers toward particular machines. For example, pricing your top loaders the same as your 20- or 30-pound machines encourages them to reconsider their choice depending on actual need, not pricing. You’ll find that there will be less use of top loaders and increased use of hard-mount equipment, which is sturdier. Pricing your 80-pound extractor just under equivalent cost of two 40-pound machines will drive the use on the larger machine, which, in turn, frees up more machines for other customers with smaller loads.
Q: When designing a laundromat, does it make more sense to 1) group all like-sized equipment where possible or to 2) alternate models by capacity so they’re spread throughout a store?
Lee: In most cases, there is not a right way or wrong way to design a store, but one of the things to consider is the flow of the store. By flow, I mean how to get your customers to find the larger, more popular machines, how to get them from the large washers to the large dryers efficiently, and how to accommodate the customers who actually sort their clothes.
Adcock: From an installation standpoint, grouping like-sized machines together can decrease the installation cost of the equipment. I’m not aware of any studies that have come to a conclusion about grouping, but it would be an interesting project to understand. Currently, the pressure is to get the store opened as quickly as possible to reduce carrying costs, so anything that helps get to the opening date more quickly would provide benefits.
Butzlaff: Keeping the same capacities together makes sense and creates a cleaner, cohesive look to the store.
Cardenas: When designing a new store, I am a big proponent of grouping same-size machines. Grouping makes sense for a couple of reasons: a cohesive orderly look, and easy wash-load identification. It takes the guesswork out for your customers. Washer load signage also makes it easier for customers to identify equipment the moment they walk through your doors.
Jorgensen: Mixing different capacities by aisle (bulkhead) is better because it keeps the customer in the same aisle managing laundry (and their children) versus having to switch aisles. It makes customer flow simpler and faster, helping improve customer turnover rates.
Check back Tuesday for the conclusion!
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].