CHICAGO — Mention the word “distributor” to a self-service laundry operator, and you never know what to expect. Just over half of self-service laundry owners responding to American Coin-Op’s most recent Wire survey are happy with their distributor(s) — 38% said they were “very happy,” and 18% said they were “somewhat happy.”Twenty percent are neither happy nor unhappy with their distributor(s), with 12% “very unhappy” and 12% “somewhat unhappy” with their distributor(s).A LITTLE BIT OF ADVICEFifty-eight percent of respondents rely on distributors for advice, and 53% are satisfied with the advice they get. Twenty-seven percent aren’t satisfied with their distributor’s advice, and 20% aren’t sure if the advice is good or not.Sixty-three percent of respondents have had a bad encounter with a distributor. The complaints vary, but many revolve around pricing disputes and service (not receiving purchased products in a timely fashion, for example). Others claim distributors are only interested in selling equipment, rather than offering advice on how to deal with certain management problems.MAKING THE CHANGEWhile a majority of respondents (56%) are happy with their distributors, only 32% of operators are opposed to changing distributors. If the opportunity arose, 24% say, “I doubt I would make the change,” and 8% say, “I would not make the change.”Twenty-six percent would change distributors if the opportunity arose, and 20% would strongly consider making the change. Twenty-two percent aren’t sure if they would make the change or not.EDUCATIONIf you’re a distributor and don’t offer service schools, open houses, etc., you might want to reconsider. Sixty percent of respondents are “very interested” in these events, and 20% are “somewhat interested” in them. Sixteen percent are neither interested nor disinterested in distributor events, and only 4% have little interest in the events.While the American Coin-Op Wire survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific.Subscribers to American Coin-Op’s Wire e-mails — distributed weekly — are invited to participate in an industry survey each month. The survey is conducted online via a partner website. Each survey is developed so it can be completed in 10 minutes or less. Readers are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define operator opinions and industry trends.Click here and follow the menu instructions to sign up for the free e-mail service.