CHICAGO — Were you pleased when you received a ‘C’ as a grade in school? I guess it depended on the course and your academic background. Operators handed out some grades in American Coin-Op’s most recent Wire survey.Slightly less than half of the respondents (47%) gave the industry a “C” in terms of image. Thirty-nine percent gave the industry a “B,” and 12% said the industry image only warranted a “D.”The survey respondents included a good deal of industry veterans, with 43% of them saying they’ve been a part of the industry for more than 10 years. Forty-one percent said the image has improved since they entered the industry, and 25% say the image hasn’t improved. Thirty-four percent aren’t sure if the image has improved or not.A DIFFERENT VIEWSince the image of this industry is greatly determined by the stores themselves, we asked respondents to grade the laundries in their area. Fifty-five percent say the laundries deserve a “C,” while 29% give them a “B.” Ten percent drop only give them a “D” and 4% believe the laundries in their area merit an “A.”A simple way to improve the industry image would be to improve the stores. The biggest area for improvement lies in cleanliness, respondents say, with 53%. Saying that providing cleaner laundries is the best way to solve the image problem. Other suggestions to improve the industry image include reducing the number of nonworking machines (14.3%), offering more services (10%) and having attendants (8.2%).THE CRYSTAL BALLNo one can be sure when, or if, the industry image will improve. Maybe a new trend will change things. Thirty-four percent of respondents see fewer, but much larger, stores in the future. Twenty-three percent believe some form of pricing consistency will finally emerge, and 16% expect to see more equipment options. What will the next big extra service be? The most popular responses are increased pickup and delivery service and a greater emphasis on commercial accounts.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.