CHICAGO — Even though the self-service laundry is trending toward offering larger wash and dry capacities in single-pocket machines, stack equipment has been in use for decades and still figures prominently in many stores across the country.
This month, American Coin-Op invited several representatives from vended laundry equipment manufacturers to answer some questions about this specific equipment category and its position within the overall equipment mix.
Part 1 dealt with stack equipment’s immediate benefits and store design possibilities. We continue by looking at capacity and control options; marketing or promotional opportunities; and the impact of the “large capacity” trend.
CAPACITY AND CONTROL OPTIONS
Q: Generally speaking, are the same kinds of capacity and control options found on single-pocket machines also available in stack units?
Kathryn Rowen, general manager, North American Laundromat, Alliance Laundry Systems (including Huebsch and Speed Queen): Yes. For instance, we have seen owners selecting Speed Queen’s Quantum Touch control for single pockets and adding stack units with the same cutting-edge control in the same store to increase pockets.
Tod Sorensen, regional sales manager, Girbau North America, parent company of Continental Girbau: Yes, single pockets and stacks share controls and common cycle options. Historically, the only difference between stack and single-pocket dryers from the 1980s until recently is the option of reversing the cylinder. This is important for large-dimension and bulky items like comforters. In the last five years, stack dryers started offering this option, and it is growing in popularity.
Matthew Conn, senior manager for Commercial Laundry Product Development & Marketing, Whirlpool Corp., parent company of ADC and Maytag: Across the industry, folks cap out at about 50 pounds per pocket. … In terms of that capacity, there is kind of an upper limit, mainly, I think, because of the upper pocket. In terms of control options, you have pretty much the same options in the stack machines. A lot of our configurations have two different controls, and we have a couple of machines that have a single control and you pick your upper pocket or lower pocket. They’re pretty similar to what’s available in single-pocket machines.
Kevin Hietpas, director of sales, Dexter Laundry: Yes, since owners need to offer customers different options for different load sizes, Dexter offers stack equipment … in small, medium and larger capacities (20, 30 and 50 pounds). And these models have the same control options and capabilities as our non-stack models, including the ability to be connected to the cloud via DexterLive and to utilize mobile payments via DexterPay.
Additionally, all three of our stack washer/dryer models feature the same user-friendly front-mounted supply dispenser that we use on our largest washer models.
MARKETING OR PROMOTIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
Q: Does the availability of stack equipment lend itself to any specialized marketing or promotional opportunities?
Sorensen: Because of increased capacity and improved wash-to-dry ratios, many stores now incentivize customers to use larger-capacity washers by offering a dryer discount or free dry, lending to overall increases in customer flow. In a sense, they’re guiding the customer habits to consolidate loads rather than using three to five small-capacity or top-load machines.
Hietpas: With the programming and pricing flexibility of today’s controls, we see creative laundry owners using these capabilities to market different types of equipment to their customers in lots of creative ways. All of Dexter’s stack models have the same programming features and flexibility of our non-stack models, including our newest built-in capabilities, the ability to be connected to the cloud … and to utilize mobile payments.
Rowen: With the current pandemic showing no signs of letting up, stack units offer a social distancing marketing opportunity. Laundromat customers can complete their wash and dry cycles at one machine. They don’t have to cart wet laundry across the store, or even across the aisle, to the tumble dryers. It also reduces their touch points while in the laundry. Marketing the strengths of the stack washer-extractor/tumble dryer can be attractive to potential customers during this new COVID-19 world.
IMPACT OF LARGE-CAPACITY TREND
Q: Incorporating large-capacity, single-pocket machines is a growing trend in vended laundries. How has this trend impacted the popularity of stack equipment, if at all?
Conn: As far as impacts to our volume in the (manufacturing) plant, the mix hasn’t changed a whole lot. … For a Laundromat application, you cap out at about 90 pounds. You very rarely see the bigger dryers in those locations. It’d be hard for us to see that shift, because they’re still going to need a lot of stacks. Stacks are a better value, two pockets in one cabinet. Fundamentally, on a dollars-per-pound basis, you’re likely getting more capacity out of a stack.
Hietpas: As laundries have added more and more larger washers, we have seen a significant trend toward more and more 50-pound stack dryers replacing single dryers, or even 30-pound stack dryers. Large-size stack dryers are a great way to add more drying capacity to keep up with the great volume of washing capacity that’s been added. And with larger equipment commanding higher vend prices, as well as attracting non-traditional laundry users, we think it’s a great trend for our industry, and we’re happy to have a wide range of larger-capacity models (both non-stack and stack washer/dryers) to help laundry owners make the most of this trend.
Rowen: This is where 30- and 50-pound commercial stack units can still fill that multi-load need/trend.
Sorensen: The usage frequency trend is, and has been, increasing for large-capacity washers up to 130 pounds. This has put greater pressure on the drying capacity in laundries. Some laundries have installed multiple 75-pound, single-pocket dryers, while other owners prefer to educate customers using large-capacity washers to simply split the wash load into 45-pound stack dryers.
In Thursday’s conclusion: Cleaning and maintenance differences; and closing thoughts on the subject
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.