CHICAGO — While the benefits of switching to a cashless operation have long been touted, cashless stores still haven’t made the major impact on the self-service laundry industry that some might have expected, according to American Coin-Op’s most recent Wire survey.CASHLESS STORES: TO BE OR NOT TO BE?One-quarter of the survey respondents operate a cashless laundry. What keeps others from going cashless? The cost of going cashless is the No. 1 reason (38%); other reasons include, “My customers wouldn’t be comfortable with the technology” (17.6%); “I bought an existing store” (16.2%); and “Customers prefer to use quarters” (13.5%).Forty-six percent would consider opening a cashless store, while 22% say they would never go cashless. Thirty-one percent are not sure if they would ever go the cashless route.BENEFITSIn a competitive market, does a cashless store have any advantage over a coin store? Sixty-eight percent believe so (Thirty percent said, “Yes, without a doubt,” 32% said, “Probably, but not in every case,” and 6% said, “Yes, but only if all other things are equal.”). Twenty-four percent doubt that any advantage exists, and 8% see no advantage.Forty-six percent say not worrying about collections would be the most enjoyable aspect of operating a cashless store. Other cashless benefits include “marketing opportunities” (20%); “the ability to quickly change prices” (11%); and “customers paying for the service in advance” (9%). Ten percent of respondents say they would equally enjoy all of the benefits mentioned above.LOOKING AHEADEven though less than half of the respondents say they would open a cashless store, more than half of the respondents see cashless stores on the rise in the next five years. Fifteen percent said, “There will be a far higher percentage of cashless stores,” and 42% said, “There will be a higher percentage of cashless stores.”Thirty-five percent believe there will be about the same percentage of cashless stores five years from now. Seven percent believe there will be a smaller percentage of cashless stores five years from now, and only 1% said that there will be a far smaller percentage of cashless stores.While the American Coin-Op Wire survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific.Subscribers to American Coin-Op’s Wire e-mails — distributed weekly — are invited to participate in an industry survey each month. The survey is conducted online via a partner website. Each survey is developed so it can be completed in 10 minutes or less. Readers are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define operator opinions and industry trends.Click here and follow the menu instructions to sign up for the free e-mail service.