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Year-Over-Year Laundry Business Up for Many: Survey

Larger customer base, installing new equipment seen as key factors

CHICAGO — We’ve just entered 2024, which means it’s the perfect time to review your business performance of last year and look ahead to what might be in store for your laundromat this year. After all, a little benchmarking never hurt anyone!

So, 2023’s final Your Views survey, conducted in mid-December, focused on year-over-year business. The opening question: “How did your self-service laundry business do (in 2023) compared to 2022?”

A whopping 77% of respondents say their business improved to some degree: 30.8% described it as “much better” and 46.2% classified it as “somewhat better.” About 15% say it was the same or similar. The smallest shares—just 3.8% each—call their business performance for 2023 “somewhat worse” or “much worse.”

Laundry owners who saw better business in 2023 attribute it largely to a) an increased customer base or b) installing new or additional equipment (equal shares of 55% of respondents selected those options from among several). Raising prices was also seen as an important factor, picked by 45%.

Some other supporting factors were offering new extra service(s) (25%), facing decreased competition (20%), improving marketing efforts (20%) and decreasing costs/expenses (15%).

The small minority whose business declined in 2023 attributed their performance to things like rising costs, customers visiting less, and extra services income being down.

Looking ahead, 69.2% of laundry owners surveyed believe their 2024 business will be better than 2023’s. Roughly 23% say it will be the same, and 3.8% think it won’t be as good. Another 3.8% are unsure.

When asked what they have planned for their laundry in 2024, 69.2% of respondents say they intend to raise prices, while 61.5% say they’ll spruce things up.

Roughly 39% say they’ll add new washers and/or dryers, while 19.2% intend to add other types of equipment (water heater, payment system, changer, etc.). About 35% say they’ll do more marketing this year, and 19.2% intend to add a service. Approximately 8% are planning no changes.

What’s your greatest business concern looking ahead? Among this survey’s respondents, the majority (34.6%) say it’s the prospect of hiring or retaining good employees remaining as difficult. About 31% say it’s that utility costs will rise.

The specter of more competition opening nearby is of greatest concern to 15.4%, and 7.7% worry about the need to update equipment. Roughly 12% say they have no concerns.

For a final question, we asked respondents what makes them most proud about their laundry operation today. Here are some of their answers:

  • “Our employees are well-trained, pleasant, and can handle just about any issues in a professional manner, as evidenced by so many comments from our customers.”
  • “We have completed our three-year upgrade plan for all our stores, with the last equipment being installed in November.”
  • “I took a zombie—I mean, really, really bad—location and turned it around.”
  • “Longevity.”

While American Coin-Op’s Your Views survey presents a snapshot of store owners’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific. Subscribers to American Coin-Op e-mail blasts are invited to participate anonymously in the industry survey.

Year-Over-Year Business Up for Many: Survey
Year-Over-Year Business Up for Many: Survey

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].