State of the Industry Survey: Pricing Stays Steady in 2008

Paul Partyka |

American Coin-Op’s annual State of the Industry survey, a random, unscientific mail poll of the magazine’s readers (self-service laundry operators), covers laundry business activity and focuses on 2008 business, pricing, price hikes, equipment purchases, and expenses. More data from the survey will appear on this website in the coming weeks.WASHER PRICESRaising vend prices is one of the major ways to positively jolt the bottom line. We asked respondents about their current washer prices, and if they raised prices this year or planned on doing so by the end of the year.Eighty percent of the respondents offer top loaders. The price for a top-load wash ranges from $1 to $2.75. Here are the most popular top-load prices followed by the percentages of respondents using them:

  1. $1.50 (36%)
  2. $1.75 (25%)
  3. $2 (19%)
  4. $1.25 (12%)

The prices are somewhat similar to last year’s survey, with one big exception: the first two prices have flip-flopped from last year. The No. 3 and No. 4 prices and percentages are virtually the same as the previous year.The most common price for a small front loader (18 pounds) is $1.75, followed by $2.25 and $2. The price range for an 18-pound wash is $1.50 to $3.Operators are most often going with $2 for a 20-pound washer, followed by $2.25 and $2.50. Last year’s No. 1 price was  $2.50, followed by $2.The most popular price for a 25-pound wash is $3, closely followed by $2.75. The price range is $2 to $4.The price range for a 30-pound wash is $2 to $5.50. Here are the most popular 30-pound prices, along with the percentages of respondents using them:

  1. $3.25 (26.4%)
  2. $3 (17.6%)
  3. $3.50 (14.7%)
  4. $2.75 (11.7%)
  5. $2.50 (11.7%)

The most popular price for a 35-pound washer (by a wide margin) is $3.50, followed by $4 and $3. The price range for a 35-pound wash is $2.50 to $5.Larger front loaders continue to be popular. The most popular price for a 40-pound washer is $4.50, followed by $4. For 50-pounders, the price range is $4 to $6.75. The most popular price for a 50-pound wash is $5. This is nearly the same as last year.While many of the pricing percentages are similar to last year, the No. 1 prices in some cases are lower than the ones reported last year. This year’s batch of respondents is simply charging a bit less than last year’s group. Overall, vend prices have started to climb in the last two years, and some of the really low vend prices have faded away.DRYER PRICESI’ve often been told that it’s better to raise washer prices than dryer prices. Some believe that higher dryer prices leave customers in a bad mood as they exit the store; others say washer price hikes aren’t noticed as much as dryer price hikes.Here are the most popular dryer prices, followed by the percentage of respondents using them:

  1. 25 cents/6 minutes and 25 cents/8 minutes (23% each — tie)
  2. 25 cents/7 minutes (17.3%)
  3. 25 cents/10 minutes (12.5%)
  4. 25 cents/5 minutes (6.7%)

The biggest change is that 25 cents/6 minutes has crept into a tie as the most popular drying price. This might be viewed as somewhat of a surprise considering that this year’s respondents had slightly lower washer prices.In addition, only 2% of respondents now offer the once-popular 25 cents/12 minutes.ODDS AND ENDSDrop-off service pricing (per pound) ranges from 70 cents to $1.50. Here are the most popular drop-off service prices:

  1. $1
  2. 90 cents
  3. 75 cents
  4. 85 cents
  5. $1.25

Sixty-two percent of respondents charge 75 cents for a box of vended detergent and 25% charge 50 cents.CHANGING TIMES?We asked operators if they have already raised washer and/or dryer prices in 2009 or intend to do so before year’s end.Thirty-two percent say they have already raised washer prices this year or intend to raise prices by the end of the year. In last year’s survey, the figure was 43%.With dryer pricing, 20% of respondents have lowered minutes/raised prices, or plan to do so by the end of the year. This is the same as last year.Click here for Part 1.Click here for Part 3

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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