How has business been in the first half of 2008? Has the economic malaise affected your laundry? Just a small percentage of operators say business has been above average, according to American Coin-Op’s most recent Wire survey.RATING BUSINESSForty percent of respondents say business has been “average” for the first half of 2008. While “average” is somewhat of a subjective term, things get a bit clearer when 33.3% say business was “below average” and 13.3% say it was “poor.” Only 13% say business has been “above average” this year.One-half of the respondents foresaw these results, but 30% didn’t expect their business to turn out the way it did and 20% weren’t sure what to expect during the first six months of the year.GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWSWhat has been your No. 1 problem this year? It’s not a surprise that “rising utility rates” took top honors. What is a surprise is that “only” 56.7% chose this as their major problem, followed by “a lack of customers” (16.7%). A host of problems, such as “too many laundries nearby” and “I haven’t been able to raise prices,” divided most of the other votes. Some respondents wouldn’t list one specific problem, saying that they suffered equally from a variety of things.We also asked operators what the most positive aspect of 2008 has been from a business perspective. There was no consensus in this area, as operators listed a wide variety of things. The two most positive things happening to laundries in 2008 are “more customers visiting the store” (23.3%) and “recent price hike has helped” (30%). Other responses garnering votes include “new equipment is paying off,” “utility bills haven’t been as bad as expected” and “extra services are doing well.” A handful of operators noted that there were no positive aspects of doing business in the first half of 2008.LOOKING AHEADWhat will the rest of the year bring? Twenty-seven percent believe business will stay the same, and 30 percent expect business to increase. Only 10% foresee a decline in business during the second half. One-third of respondents aren’t sure about what the rest of the year will bring.One-half of the respondents don’t believe the new president will positively impact the economy. Seventeen percent believe the new president will help the economy, and one-third aren’t sure.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.