Survey Says: Distributor Business Better in 2012 (Part 1)



(Image licensed by Ingram Publishing)

Bruce Beggs |

Arrow continues pointing upward for ’13

CHICAGO — A majority of distributors polled in this year’s American Coin-Op Distributor Survey enjoyed better business than the previous year and is expecting overall sales in 2013 to beat those of 2012.

Sixty percent of survey respondents said business—including the sales of newly constructed self-service laundries, and replacement business—was better in 2012 than it was in 2011. And 61.8% predict that 2013 sales will be better than 2012’s.

Approximately 14% said business was worse in 2012 than 2011, and 25.7% said business was comparable in both years.

Every distributor listed in the American Coin-Op Distributors Directory was invited to participate in this year’s unscientific survey, which charts 2012 business and makes comparisons to previous years.


Two years ago, we described 2010 as a bounce-back year for many distributors. That recovery continues its upward trajectory, with business reportedly improving year by year, according to the latest survey results.

This year, 60% of respondents said business was better in 2012 than 2011. In the 2012 survey, 55% said business was better in 2011 than 2010. In the 2011 survey, 46% said business was better in 2010 than 2009.

For those experiencing a change in business in 2012, the No. 1 reason was the economy. But depending on the distributor filling out the survey, it was either a positive or a negative.

Those who thrived were buoyed by the economic upturn, good customer service and better self-promotion, based on a number of individual responses.

Among distributors whose business suffered in 2012, there were complaints about poor financing opportunities and higher utility rates, for example.


Replacement-business figures were comparable to the previous year’s report. In replacement business only, 51.4% said business was up last year compared to 2011. That’s compared to the 52.6% who saw their replacement business increase from 2010 to 2011, 39.3% who saw an increase from 2009 to 2010, and 20% who saw an increase from 2008 to 2009.

Roughly 14% saw replacement business fall in 2012, and 34.3% said their level of replacement business was unchanged from 2011.


American Coin-Op asked distributors how many new laundries they built and/or to which they supplied equipment in 2012.

Slightly more than 54% of respondents built or supplied equipment to three or fewer new laundries last year, which is virtually identical to the 2012 survey results for 2011 business, also approximately 54%.

The percentage was 56% in the 2011 survey for 2010 business and 62% in the 2010 survey for 2009 business.

How many new laundries did distributors deal with in some fashion in 2012? Here are the most common answers from this year’s survey:

  1. 1
  2. 0
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 2

Distributors were also asked if their 2012 new-construction total was more, less or the same when compared to 2011. Roughly 41% said new construction was up in 2012 (by comparison, that figure was approximately 39% in the 2012 survey for 2011 business, roughly 41% in 2011 survey for 2010 business and only 14% in 2010 survey for 2009 business), 35.3% said new construction was down, and 23.5% said new construction was the same in 2012 and 2011.


Generating revenue is vital to an operation’s success, but overcrowding with equipment can be a detriment. For those of you thinking about adding a new store, or wondering what that new store down the street will be offering, here’s a quick look at what distributors are installing throughout the country.

Approximately 45% of the new stores had at least one top loader, significantly down from last year’s figure (58%). (It should be noted that a handful of respondents chose to skip the top-loader question on our online survey, so the actual figure could be a bit lower. It’s possible some respondents didn’t install any top loaders in 2012, and skipped the question as a result.)

More specifically, here are the most common numbers of top loaders put into new stores in 2012:

  1. 0
  2. 10
  3. 8
  4. 6
  5. 5

Newly constructed laundries in 2012 have 3.4 top loaders on average. (This figure factors in the stores with no top loaders.)

Here are the most common numbers of front loaders installed in newly constructed laundries last year:

  1. 35
  2. 30
  3. 40
  4. 10
  5. 24

Newly constructed laundries in 2012 have an average of 28.0 front loaders. This is down compared to last year’s figure (30.0).

The average newly constructed laundry in 2012 has 30.8 dryer pockets. That’s compared to 34.1 dryer pockets in 2011.

Here are the most common numbers of dryer pockets installed in newly constructed laundries last year:

  1. 40
  2. 35
  3. 50
  4. 30
  5. 15

Check back Wednesday for the conclusion!

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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