CHICAGO — Nearly 58% of self-service laundry owners and operators polled in the last American Coin-Op Wire survey of 2011 said their business was better (“much better,” 20%; “somewhat better,” 37.8%) than it was in 2010.
Taking the economy into consideration, 29.5% said their business was better than they had expected, while another 47.7% said it was about what they expected. Roughly 21% said their business was worse than expected, and the remaining 2.3% said they didn’t know.
Operators whose business rose attributed it primarily to installing new equipment (46.2%), a larger customer base (42.3%) and/or raising prices (30.8%). Better marketing efforts (26.9%), decreasing competition (19.2%), offering new extra services (15.4%) and lowering expenses (7.7%) were other important factors. Some 23% pointed to “other” reasons, and most of their comments dealt with keeping stores clean and equipment in operation. (Respondents could choose any or all among several suggested factors or offer their own.)
Among respondents who said their business dropped in 2011, two-thirds (66.7%) blamed the decline on customers cutting down on the number of visits. Other significant causes were a decreasing customer base (61.9%) and rising expenses (52.4%). Also cited were “other” (19%), lower extra-service income (14.3%), and competitors cutting into their business (9.5%).
Two out of five operators said they raised washer and/or dryer prices in 2011.
Finally, respondents were asked how they would grade their 2011 management performance. Sixty percent gave themselves a B, and another 24.4% gave themselves an A. Roughly 11% said they only deserved a C, while 4.4% gave themselves a D.
The Wire survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, but it should not be considered scientific.
Subscribers to Wire e-mails—distributed twice weekly—are invited to take a brief industry survey anonymously online each month. All self-service laundry owners and operators are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define operator opinions and industry trends.
To sign up for the Wire, click the “Subscriptions” button at the top right-hand corner of this page and follow the instructions.