Survey: Utility Costs, New Equipment Among Top Reasons for Hiking Vend Prices

Bruce Beggs |

More than half of store owners don’t publicize price increases in any fashion

CHICAGO — Helping to offset utility costs is the primary reason why the majority of coin laundry operators polled (34.8%) make the decision to raise their store’s vend prices, according to results of American Coin-Op’s latest Your Views survey.

Other operators boost prices to “afford new equipment” (21.7%), “generate more revenue” (19.6%), or when they “spruce up (the) store” (4.4%). Equal shares of 2.2% say they “raise prices every so often,” or that their “store has the lowest price” in their area.

Roughly 15% of operators polled raise prices for “other” reasons, including an increasing minimum wage, inflation, and addressing a just-purchased store’s outdated pricing structure.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63.8%) feel no guilt or apprehension about raising prices.

And nearly 55% of operators polled don’t publicize price hikes in any fashion. About 33% “let customers know what is happening and why,” and the remaining 13% “make minimal effort to announce a price hike.”

Approximately three out of five respondents (59.6%) have raised washer prices this year, or intend to do so before 2019. Roughly one-quarter (25.5%) have not raised their prices, and the remaining 14.9% are unsure.

Regarding dryer prices, only 31.9% of respondents have raised them this year or intend to do so before 2019. Roughly 62% have not raised prices or intend to do so, and the remaining 6.4% are unsure.

Some operators raised their washer or dryer prices as recently as April; most have raised prices within the last 18 months to two years. A few who took the survey say it’s been 10 years or more since they’ve raised vend prices.

Roughly 55% of respondents say they expect to lose 1-5% of their customers when they raise prices, while 29.8% say they do not expect to lose any customers at all. Close to 11% expect to lose 6-10% of their clientele when they raise prices, while equal shares of 2.1% expect to lose 11-15% or 16-20%. No one who took the survey believes they will lose more than 20% of customers when raising prices.

Finally, the survey asked store owners about their general philosophy about raising vend prices, and whether they found it easy or hard to take that action. Here are some of the responses:

  • “I do find it difficult, because I know people are cost-conscious. On the other hand, we are the lowest (priced) in the area and need to keep up with utility costs.”
  • “It has to be done. Costs go up, rent, taxes, wages. We as an industry only hurt ourselves when we don’t keep pace.”
  • “If your Laundromat is clean and well-run, customers will see the value. Those customers you may lose on price, you probably didn’t want/need anyway.”
  • “Raise prices when remodeling or adding new equipment. That way, customers see they get something in return.”
  • “If you’re not ahead, you’re behind.”
  • “My philosophy is that if I don’t raise prices, I am going out of business.”

While American Coin-Op’s Your Views survey presents a snapshot of the trade audience’s viewpoints, its findings should not be considered scientific. Qualified subscribers to American Coin-Op e-mails are invited to participate anonymously in an industry survey.

The entire American Coin-Op audience is encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define owner/operator opinions and industry trends.

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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