Survey: Operators Soldier On Amidst Lagging Economy, Increasing Costs (Part 1 of 3)


state of the industry graphic
Photo: © Correia

Bruce Beggs |

45% Report Business Increased in 2011

CHICAGO — How do you think your self-service business compared to others in the industry last year? Did you have a good year or a bad year in 2011? How does your pricing compare with others?

American Coin-Op’s annual State of the Industry survey offers you the opportunity to compare your operation to others in the industry. It focuses on 2011/2012 business conditions, pricing, equipment, common problems, turns per day, and utilities cost.

In instances where respondents were asked about 2011 business results, they were given the opportunity to state that their results were up, down or unchanged. This is a slight departure from previous surveys that asked only if their business results were up or down. Keep this in mind as you are making comparisons to previous years’ polls.

The survey is an unscientific electronic poll of American Coin-Op readers who operate stores. Some percentages may not equal 100% due to rounding.


In 2011, nearly 45% of respondents saw their overall coin laundry business increase from 2010.

More specifically, 44.8% of operators reported an increase in business (gross dollar volume) in 2011 compared to 2010. In last year’s survey, 42% reported an increase in business, and two years ago, 40.2% reported a bump in business.

The average 2011 business increase is 11.5%, up from 10.8% in 2010. Other past increases were 7.9% (2009), 14% (2008) and 12.2% (2007).

Here’s a closer look at the 2011 business increases (these figures relate to those reporting an increase, not all the respondents):

  • Operators with a business increase of less than 10%: 40.4%
  • Operators with a business increase of 10-14%: 38.5%
  • Operators with a business increase of 15% or greater: 21.2%

The largest single increase in 2011 was reported to be 50%.

Approximately 35% of respondents saw their business decrease (in gross dollar volume) last year. In our survey of 2010 business, 58% saw a drop in business. The percentage was 59.8% in 2009.

The average 2011 business decrease is 10.2%, down a bit from last year’s figure (11.2%). Previous averages were 13.7% in 2009, 14.3% in 2008 and 13.2% in 2007.

Were the losses consistent last year or did they vary? Here’s a closer look at the 2011 business decreases:

  • Operators experiencing a business reduction of less than 10%: 56.1%
  • Operators experiencing a business reduction of 10 to 14 %: 17.1%
  • Operators experiencing a business reduction of 15 % or greater: 26.8%

The largest reported decrease in 2011 was 50%.

Approximately 20% of operators reported their 2011 business was unchanged compared to their 2010 results.

Overall, these results continue to reflect year-to-year improvement on average. The number of operators reporting an increase in business was up slightly from last year, as was the average business increase.

The average business decrease (10.2%) was a percentage point lower than the prior year. In addition, the number of operators suffering a large business reduction (15% or greater) shrunk from 31.7% in 2010 to 26.8% in 2011.


In a culture built on saving time and intent on finding ways to free up that precious commodity, drop-off service would look to be a popular choice for self-service laundry customers. But do the numbers bear that out?

Did drop-off service improve in 2011 or do customers still consider it a bit of a luxury?

Approximately 32% of respondents reported drop-off-service business (gross dollar volume) increased in 2011. For 2010, approximately 47% reported business increases.

The average drop-off-service business increase is 17.3%, four points higher than 2010’s increase of 13.3%. It should be noted that a handful of respondents reported an increase of more than 20%.

Roughly 24% saw a decrease in drop-off-service business. That is much lower than in 2010 (53%), but that could be attributed at least in part to survey-takers’ ability to list their drop-off service business as being unchanged.

The average decrease is 18.1%, down a bit from 2010’s figure (18.8%). In 2009, the average drop-off-service decrease was 24.2%.

Nearly 45% of respondents said their drop-off service business was unchanged from 2010.

Two-thirds of respondents offer some type of drycleaning service. Only 17.5% reported a business increase. The average business increase is 10.4%. The average business decrease is 15.1%.


Roughly 35% of the respondents had an increase in vending sales in 2011, slightly lower than 2010’s reported one-third. Approximately 31% saw their vending sales decrease in 2011, and 34.2% saw vending sales remain unchanged.

The average vending gain is 11.2%, up a bit from 2010’s figure (9.2%).

The average decrease in vending business is 11.0%, compared to 12% in 2010.

Check back on Monday for Part 2: Washer, Dryer and Drop-Off Service Pricing

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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