Survey: Laundry Owners Weigh Best and Worst About Their Stores

Bruce Beggs |

CHICAGO — They say you have to take the bad with the good. And so it is that American Coin-Op asked readers to list the best and the worst things about their store in this month’s Wire survey.


Thirty-three percent of respondents say a 40- to 50-pound front loader is their store’s most popular washer, followed by a 27- to 35-pound front loader (30%) and an 18- to 25-pound front loader (23.3%). Equal shares (6.7%) chose a 55- to 60-pound front loader and a 70-pound-plus front loader as most popular. No one who took the unscientific survey said a top loader was their store’s most popular washer.


Wednesday is the slowest business day (38.7%), edging out Tuesday (29%) and Thursday (25.8%). Summer is the best revenue-generating season (35.5%), followed by winter (32.3%), spring (22.6%), and fall (9.7%).


Soft drinks, by far, are the best-selling food/drink item at laundries. Roughly 52% of respondents say soft drinks are the No. 1 seller, followed by snack chips (19.4%) and water (6.5%). Approximately 13% of respondents say they don’t offer vended items in their laundry.


Doing repair/maintenance work (32.3%) is the least favorite task for owners, followed by “solving customer problems” (25.8%), collecting (12.9%) and cleaning (12.9%). Only 9.7% selected “supervising employees” as being least favorite.


Respondents were asked to name the worst thing a customer had done to or at their laundry. Answers were varied, and some were downright disturbing. Incidents of theft (money, a toilet seat) and vandalism (poured beverages on floor, ripped off washer door) were most common. Following are examples of the rest:

  • “(Customer) brought in laundry with dozens of roaches in it. When I walked in, the bugs were crawling everywhere in plain sight: all over the washers, in and out of her laundry basket, etc. I told her not to ever bring her laundry back here. My attendant and I spent hours killing roaches and, of course, I also had an emergency exterminator visit.”
  • “One blew ours up a few years before we bought it. He was washing greasers (oil field clothes) and he poured some gasoline into the washer with the clothes. It was a gentle explosion, though. It didn’t seriously injure any of the customers.”
  • “Take clothes off and wash them.”
  • “Butchered a manta ray on one of our tables, then put (it) into one of our dryers, turned it on high, then left.”
  • “Had a bowel movement in the middle of the store because the restroom was busy. Then used others’ clothes to clean himself.”
  • “Washed old, rubber-backed carpets, clogging the washers drain and flooding the store.”

While the Wire survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific.

Subscribers to Wire e-mails—distributed twice weekly—are invited to take the 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.

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.


Other equipment types?

No reporting on other related equipment? What about the popularity of a Bock Extractor or vended showers?

My 3 card-operated pay showers cost about the same to install as a 50# washer, but EASILY generate more revenue than any single machine in my laundromat - with the possible exception of the vending machine. 


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