Safety Audits Regular Practice for Most Laundries: Survey

Bruce Beggs |

Areas checked frequently include equipment, exterior, doors/locks

CHICAGO — Inspecting or auditing a self-service laundry for safety or security risks is common practice among the majority of store owners and operators polled in this month’s American Coin-Op Your Views survey.

Roughly 44% of respondents audit their vended laundry store daily for safety or security risks, while another 31.7% say they do it weekly. Much smaller shares check their stores monthly (2.4%), quarterly (4.9%) or yearly (4.9%).

The remaining 12.2% of respondents say they “don’t audit [their] store(s)” for safety or security risks.

Operators focus on any number of different areas when performing their checks, including equipment (82.9%), exterior areas such as the parking lot or sidewalks (82.9%), walking areas (80.5%), doors/locks (78.1%), furniture (48.8%) and “other” areas (9.8%).

Having an attendant on site can help ensure a store remains safe, says a majority of respondents (85.4%). Roughly 7% say no to that notion, and the remaining 7.3% are unsure about an attendant’s impact on store safety.

“Having an attendant on duty is the best way to ensure safety,” writes one respondent. “Our customers (especially females) are appreciative of our attendants and our lighting during the evening hours.”

“Having an attendant on high-traffic hours is the most effective strategy to minimize accidents,” adds another.

Surveillance systems is by far the most popular safety feature/practice used by the majority of owners and operators (95.1%) in their stores. Others include alarm systems (56.1%), “displaying [the store owner’s] phone number” (43.9%), motion-activated lighting (22.0%), an employee safety handbook (22.0%), and a late-night or after-hours patrol service (7.3%), according to the survey results.

Among features or practices outside those suggested by the survey, 17.1% of respondents listed things such as “hidden weapons,” “24-hour lighting inside and out,” and a store design “where there is no place to hide.”

Virtually everyone who took the survey believes the safety and security of their store(s) is either excellent (62.5%) or good (32.5%). Just 5% say their store security/safety is “fair.” No one who took the survey called their store security/safety “poor.”

Has an unsafe situation ever developed in your store? How did you or your staff handle it? Here are a few described by our respondents:

  • “Vagrants soliciting money from customers scares them away. We warn them, then call the police; enforce trespassing violations.”
  • “[We had a] fire, which was handled by evacuating the store.”
  • “Clothes were caught in the door of a front-load machine. Water was spilling from the door and clothes were being twisted from end to end. We cut power to the machine, let the water drain and opened the door. We moved the customer’s clothes to another washer and started it for her.”

While American Coin-Op’s Your Views survey presents a snapshot of the trade audience’s viewpoints, its findings should not be considered scientific. Qualified subscribers to American Coin-Op e-mails are invited to participate anonymously in an industry survey.

The entire American Coin-Op audience is encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define owner/operator opinions and industry trends.

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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