CHICAGO — As summer heats up, many laundromat owners are accustomed to seeing their self-service business slow down for the season. That’s the general vibe of this quarter’s American Coin-Op Your Views survey.
More than 42% of responding store owners pegged summer as being “worse than most seasons” (21.1%) or “the worst season” (21.1%) for their self-service laundry business. Roughly 37% say that summer is “the same as any other season,” and equal shares of 10.5% say it’s either “better than most seasons” or “it’s the best season.”
Nearly 43% of respondents say that customer habits change during the summer and thus affect their store hours, attendant scheduling, etc. Roughly 52% don’t find that to be the case, and the remaining 4.8% are unsure.
Among those who believe that customer habits change, many say the shift from spring to summer means that people generally wear fewer pieces of clothing, and vacations leave time for fewer trips to the laundromat for some families. Customers tend to come in earlier in the mornings and later in the evenings throughout the summer.
One respondent says summer actually brings in more business for him/her: “We get more people passing through our town in summer. It is (our) most busy time of year.”
In spite of the business slowdown commonly connected to summer, the vast majority of owner/operators polled (90.9%) do not run seasonal specials or promotions. Only 9.1% offer incentives such as free dry or free soap on select summer days.
With laundromats occupied less during the June-to-August period, those are prime months to do some major store maintenance. Painting (interior and exterior), deep cleaning and landscaping, along with equipment and utility upgrades, are some of the tasks that respondents say they tackle during summers.
About 38% of respondents say they receive more customer complaints about store temperature during summer compared to the rest of the year. The remaining 62% say that’s not the case for them.
Finally, we asked respondents what they find most challenging about running a self-service laundry during the summer months. Here are some of their responses:
- “Paying the utilities bills.”
- “(Managing) air conditioning costs with reduced income.”
- “Teenagers and homeless people.”
- “Slower cash flow so you have to balance spending.”
- “The volume of wash and fold is much higher, which may mean less folding space for coin-op customers.”
- “Having all those planned (store) projects completed by the end of summer.”
American Coin-Op’s Your Views survey presents an unscientific snapshot of the trade audience’s viewpoints. Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
Subscribers to American Coin-Op email blasts are invited to participate anonymously in an industry survey each quarter. The greater the number of responses, the better the analysis at defining owner/operator opinions and identifying industry trends.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].