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State of the Industry Survey: Equipment

Paul Partyka |

CHICAGO — The emphasis is on equipment in the second part of our State of the Industry survey. What types of equipment did operators purchase in 2007? What have operators purchased this year?In addition, this story will touch on the Top 10 industry problems, the average turns-per-day for front loaders and top loaders, expenses and operator projections for 2008.American Coin-Op’s annual State of the Industry survey is a random mail poll of American Coin-Op readers (coin laundry owners) dealing with coin laundry business activity as well as a number of other industry subjects.THE PERFECT ADDITIONDid you buy any equipment for your laundry last year? We asked respondents if they purchased a washer, dryer, water heater, vender or changer for their stores in 2007.Nearly 47% of respondents (a slight rise from last year’s survey) purchased at least one piece of the above-mentioned equipment last year. That figure drops to 31.1% if you just count washers and/or dryers.Here’s a further breakdown by the purchased equipment:• Last year, 15.5% of respondents purchased at least one top loader. The average purchase was 7.1 machines.• As for double loaders, 11.6% purchased at least one double loader. The average purchase was 5.25 machines.• Fifteen percent purchased at least one triple loader (also includes 50-pound and larger washers). The average purchase was 3.8 machines.• Thirteen percent of all respondents purchased at least one dryer. The average was 8.8 dryers.Other 2007 purchases included: water heaters (11.6% purchased at least one unit last year) and venders (11% purchased at least one unit last year).2008 EQUIPMENT ADDITIONSEven in challenging economic times, operators are still adding equipment. Have you bought, or do you plan to buy, any new equipment this year? Forty-one percent of respondents have bought, or plan on buying, something (washer, dryer, vender or water heater) this year. That figure drops to 29.2% when you narrow the purchase to just washers and/or dryers.Here’s what respondents are saying about their 2008 buying plans:• Nearly 12% plan on buying, or have already bought, a top loader in 2008. The average purchase is (or will be) 6.7 machines.• Thirteen percent plan on buying, or have already bought, a double loader in 2008. The average purchase is (or will be) six machines.• Triple loaders (including 50-pound and larger washers) continue to grow in popularity, with 17.5% of respondents planning on buying (or have already bought) one of these machines. The average purchase is (or will be) three machines.• Nearly 19% of respondents plan on buying, or have already bought, a dryer in 2008. The average purchase is (or will be) six machines.• Nine percent of respondents plan on buying, or have already bought, at least one water heater this year.• Five percent of respondents plan on buying, or have already bought, at least one vender this year.IT'S ALWAYS SOMETHINGSome of you may feel that you don’t totally relate to this survey because you haven’t bought anything recently, raised prices, etc. Well, everyone can relate to this part of the survey.Respondents were asked about their biggest laundry industry “headaches.” Twenty-nine problems drew votes.Here are the Top 10 industry problems:1) Utilities2) Dealing with employees3) High cost of repairs (parts, paying service people)4) Customers causing trouble5) Too many coin laundries6) The cost of doing business7) Attracting customers8) High rent9) Cost of new equipment10) Excessive government regulationsThere are, of course, some of the “old favorites” on this list. That won’t change. However, certain problems made the cut last year, but weren’t on this year’s list: worries about raising prices, impact fees and vandalism.TURNS-PER-DAYThe average turns-per-day for top loaders is 3.6, the same total as last year.The average turns-per-day for a front loader is 3.7, down from last year’s number (4.2).EXPENSESWe asked respondents to rank (from one to five) the following expenses at their stores: rent, utilities, employees, insurance and loan payments. Keep in mind that operators with unattended stores, for example, will affect the ratings, as will respondents who own their own building.Here are the ranked expenses:1) Utilities2) Rent3) Employees4) Insurance5) Loan payments2008 BUSINESSRespondents were asked to predict how their businesses will do in 2008 compared to 2007.Thirty-two percent of respondents believe 2008 will be a better year than 2007, 53% believe 2008 will be the same as 2007 and 15% expect a drop in business in 2008.For those who believe their business will improve this year, the top reasons given for this belief are: they are sprucing up their store, they have added new machines and they are advertising more.For the “pessimists,” the top reasons why they see a decrease this year are higher utility rates and a sluggish economy.For those who see their business staying the same, the top reasons are: a stagnant customer base, sluggish economy and additional competition.To read Part I of the survey story, click here. 

About the author

Paul Partyka

American Coin-Op

Paul Partyka was editor of American Coin-Op from 1997 through May 2011.

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