CHICAGO — Self-service laundry customers, depending on how much dirty laundry they bring along and how many machines are available to them, could spend a couple of hours in your store. That means they could have a pretty healthy wait in front of them while their clothes spin in the washer and tumble in the dryer.
But what to do while they wait? As a business owner, you have the power to make your customers’ visit to your store as comfortable as possible, and maybe even downright enjoyable. And that’s where amenities like vending machines come in.
As we were closing Part 1, Vince Hansen, president of Vend-Rite, a vending equipment maker and supplier that has served the laundry industry since 1952, had touched on recent packaging trends. Roni Moore, vice president of public affairs for the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA), noted that the convenience services industry has kept pace with technology and consumer needs, including expanded payment methods.
“Most recently, what’s happening now, say, in the last two to three years, we’ve seen the influx of being able to take credit cards as well as an in-house loyalty card,” Hansen says of vending in laundry environments. “That’s very big right now with every manufacturer that’s out there. Also, the ability to take other forms of payment like Apple Pay. And all that technology is available to laundry owners.”
“Vending transactions are higher with cashless technology,” Moore says of vending in general. “As we look at opportunities for growth, this is an important metric.”
On the laundry supplies side, Hansen says, most stores own and operate any vending equipment themselves. Therefore, a store owner desiring to maintain their vending profits should keep their machines in operating condition, looking good, and always stocked.
“We adopted a statement many years ago that says, ‘Clean it today and it will work better tomorrow.’ It’s just trying to lay the foundation for preventive maintenance. It takes just a minute or two while you’re filling—or every day or two, depending on volume—to wipe some of that excess powder out of the machine, because that’s going to, over time, impede the machine’s ability to vend, to dispense properly.”
While a store owner might entertain the idea of vending both laundry supplies and food/drink from the same machine, Vend-Rite advises against it and won’t configure a machine in that way, Hansen says.
“If they have a central dispensing area or collection place and soap powders or liquids were to leak, then you’re reaching in and grabbing a food item—the liability is just too great.”
Hansen is a believer in store owners promoting their vended items just as they promote their laundry equipment and other store features. Vending is comparable to offering a drop-off service, for example, and store owners should be promoting what they offer with signs and on their website.
“I think that has changed the last 10 years, in terms of the amenities that laundries are offering. … They usually have a picture of their vending area somewhere in their website. You could maybe liken it to when you’re traveling and you’re looking for a hotel and you want to make sure that hotel has transportation to the airport. It’s a service they provide, and you may make your decision on which laundry to use based on, ‘Do I need to go to the store and buy all this stuff, or can I just go there and they’ll have it for me?’”
There’s only so much space in a self-service laundry, so any vending equipment will be competing with the laundry equipment for square footage, Hansen says.
“I think the focus on laundries has been to be efficient in that square footage usage, and washers and dryers are really what the market is,” he says. “Some owners look at focusing on vending as taking your eye off the ball. ‘You’re really in the laundry business, you’re not in the snack business.’ But there’s a fine line there and it is, and can be, a huge profit center for them.”
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.