Survey: Operators Soldier On Amidst Lagging Economy, Increasing Costs (Part 2 of 3)


state of the industry graphic
Photo: © Correia

Bruce Beggs |

Most Popular Dryer Price is 25 Cents/6 Minutes

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.

The survey is an unscientific electronic poll of American Coin-Op readers who operate stores.


Respondents were asked about their current washer prices, and if they increased prices this year or planned on doing so by the end of the year.

Eighty percent of respondents offer top loaders. The price range for a top-load wash is $1 to $3.50. The most expensive top-load wash was the same price last year.

Here are the most popular top-load prices followed by the percentages of respondents using them:

1. $2 (25.8%)

2. $1.75 (20.6%)

3. $1.50 and $2.25 (14.4% - tie)

5. $2.50 (11.3%)

The biggest change is that $2 jumped from No. 3 last year to No. 1 this year. This moved last year’s No. 1 $1.75 into No. 2. Tying for third were $1.50 and $2.25.

A handful of operators continue to charge $3 or more for a top-load wash. This is the second straight year that there have been multiple prices topping $3 reported in the survey.

The most popular prices for some of the small front loaders are:

  • 18-pound washers: $2.50
  • 20-pound washers: $2.50
  • 25-pound washers: $3

The lowest price in the above grouping is $1.75 (20-pound washer) and the highest price is $5 (also a 20-pound washer). Overall, this year’s most popular small front-loader prices are a bit more expensive than last year’s prices.

The price range for a 30-pound wash is $2 to $5.50. Here are the most popular 30-pound prices, along with the percentages of respondents using them:

1. $3.50 (34.8%)

2. $4 (10.9%)

3. $3, $3.25 and $4.25 (8.7% - tie)

The most popular price for a 35-pound wash is $3.50, followed closely by $4.50. The price range for a 35-pound wash is $3.25 to $5.25.

The most popular price for a 40-pound wash is $4.50, but $4 and $5 aren’t far behind. The most popular 50-pound wash price is $5.50, followed closely by $5.

The most popular price for a 60-pound wash is $6. The price range for an 80-pound wash is $6.25 to $13, with $8 being the most popular price.

The most popular prices for the largest front loaders (125 pounds) are $14.99 to $15.50.

Because the group of operators who respond to our survey is different each year, prices tend to vary. But the survey consistently has shown that operators offer a wide variety of front loaders (prices for 20 different capacities were logged this year) with a broad price range.


Operators have historically tended to shy away from raising dryer prices, choosing instead to focus on washer price hikes. The average store owner continues to operate under the belief that customers will be upset by tinkered-with dryer prices but less apt to complain about washer price hikes.

Here are the most popular dryer prices, followed by the percentage of respondents using them:

1. 25 cents/6 minutes (23.1%)

2. 25 cents/8 minutes (18.5%)

3. 25 cents/5 minutes (16.7%)

4. 25 cents/7 minutes (13.9%)

5. 25 cents/10 minutes (8.3%)

The No. 1 price remains the same as last year, but fewer operators are using it. Seven minutes of drying time dropped from second last year to fourth this year, and the 25-for-8 and 25-for-5 prices each moved up a spot from last year. The 25-for-10 price—once an industry staple—remained fifth at practically the same percentage as last year.

As usual, there were a wide variety of dryer prices reported. The most expensive (and longest cycle) was $1.75 for 35 minutes.

A handful of respondents reported they offer free dry in their stores.


Drop-off-service pricing ranges from 75 cents to $2 per pound. Here are the most popular drop-off-service prices (per pound), followed by the percentage of respondents using them:

1. $1 (34.9%)

2. $1.20 and $1.25 (10.8% - tie)

4. 90 cents (6%)

5. $1.10 (4.8%)

The drop-off-service prices remain similar to 2011 prices, and there are a greater variety of prices charged. There were 21 different prices charged per pound amid the operators who took our survey.

Slightly more than two-thirds of the respondents offer drop-off service, which is down from last year’s survey.


We asked operators if they have already raised washer and/or dryer prices in 2012 or intend to do so before year’s end.

Approximately 50% say they have raised washer prices this year or intend to raise prices by the end of the year. Roughly 31% of respondents say they are not planning to raise washer prices this year, and 19% are undecided if they are going to hike prices in 2012.

Regarding dryer prices, 17.8% have raised dryer prices this year or intend to do so later in the year. Roughly 64% don’t plan to hike dryer prices this year, and 17.8% are undecided about raising their prices.

In 2011, only 34% said they raised washer prices or intended to do so by the end of that year, and 13% said they raised dryer prices or intended to do so before that year’s end.

Check back Wednesday for Part 3: Equipment Purchasing Trends, Plus Common Managerial Headaches

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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