Survey: Few Agree with Belief that Owning Laundromat is ‘Easy Way to Make a Living’

Bruce Beggs |

Deciding between ‘myth’ and ‘reality’

CHICAGO — Anyone who says that owning a Laundromat is “an easy way to make a living” believes in an industry “myth,” according to three-quarters of the store owners who took this quarter’s American Coin-Op Your Views survey.

Twenty percent of respondents called the statement a “reality,” and the remaining 4.7% were unsure.

In terms of operational “myths vs. realities,” it’s clear that most store owners find certain commonly held beliefs to be myths. But the myth vs. reality debate is not always sharply defined.

For example, roughly 39% of store owners polled do not believe in the notion that the self-service laundry industry is “recession-resistant.” While a small portion (7.1%) is not sure if the industry is recession-resistant, 54.1% consider the idea a “reality.”

Respondents were split on the idea of an owner being able to run up to four stores successfully without having to hire a manager or assistant. Roughly 37% call it a myth, 37.9% say it’s a reality, and the remaining 25.3% are uncertain.

Here are some other statements put to the myth/reality test:

  • “A well-kept laundry reduces your chances of being vandalized.” — 22.1% myth, 68.6% reality, 9.3% unsure.
  • “Word of mouth is the best form of laundry advertising.” — 17.6% myth, 77.7% reality, 4.7% unsure.
  • “Customers don’t usually comment/complain about vend price increases as long as you operate a nice store and give them what they want.” — 22.1% myth, 68.6% reality, 9.3% unsure.
  • “It it beneficial to develop a cordial relationship with competing store owners from the same area.” — 11.6% myth, 62.8% reality, 25.6% unsure.
  • “Top loaders will be phased out of the self-service laundry industry in the next few years.” — 34.9% myth, 51.2% reality, 14.0% unsure.
  • “There will be fewer, but larger, self-service laundries in the next decade.” — 23.0% myth, 54.0% reality, 23.0% unsure.
  • “The dollar coin will have a major impact on our industry in the next five years.” — 44.2% myth, 25.6% reality, 30.2% unsure.

Finally, store owners taking the unscientific poll were asked if they had a favorite “myth” or “reality” about the industry. Here are some of the responses:

  • “‘Utilities are your biggest concern.’ False. If they are an issue, then either vend prices (are) too low or (you’re) running old equipment.”
  • “‘All Laundromat customers are typical.’ I have found that they are not. Your store’s condition and your attitude attract your type of customers, for the most part.”
  • “‘More big machines’ will be a reality.”
  • “Myth: ‘All I ever do is show up a few minutes a day to collect the cash.’”
  • “‘A full parking lot means you’re rolling in it.’ Revenue/car can be as low as $5/hour. Any donut shop will do $5/car in 30 seconds!”
  • “‘Obtaining honest, dependable employees will become your most difficult job facing the industry.’ — Reality.”
  • “‘I’m giving back to the community.’ A myth that actually means, ‘I am desperate for more customers and I’ll try just about anything.”

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

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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