CHICAGO — The U.S. economy appears strong, unemployment is at its lowest point in decades, and consumer confidence recently hit an 18-year high. But what do all these positive economic indicators and the current business climate mean for self-service laundries?
This quarter’s Your Views survey was focused on year-over-year business. The opening question: Is your self-service laundry business generating more sales today that at this same time last year?
More than two-thirds of respondents—68.4%—say, “Yes, slightly more,” and another 10.5% say, “Absolutely, much more.” Approximately 11% say their business is generating the same amount of sales today as it did this time last year. The remaining 10.5% say their laundry is generating less in sales when compared to the prior year.
Those who are seeing greater sales this year attribute it overwhelmingly (88.2%) to an increased customer base. Other factors seen by sizable shares as being responsible include increasing prices (35.3%), boosting marketing efforts (23.5%), offering additional services or extra-profit centers (17.7%) and decreasing competition (11.8%).
Attendees were asked about the “best thing that happened to [their] business in 2018.” Here are some of the responses:
- “Word of mouth is getting out.”
- “A very good staff that customers love to visit with!”
- “Pipeline construction and fracking efforts.”
- “Started wash/dry/fold for a couple of hotels.”
- “Business taxes are lower.”
Respondents whose sales hadn’t improved since this time last year blamed it on things like a new store opening nearby, late-arriving snowbirds, and more people buying home washers and dryers.
Looking ahead to 2019, 79.0% of respondents are confident their business will keep improving, and 21.1% think their business will stay about the same. No one who took the poll is worried their business will remain in decline.
And the reasoning behind those beliefs was quite varied, as these responses attest:
- “Attention to detail and a happy workforce will help us achieve new records.”
- “Increased marketing efforts to attract customers, and equipment upgrades.”
- “Donald Trump economy.”
- “Every two years I raise prices by 25 cents to keep up with increased cost of taxes, utilities, insurance, repairs, etc.”
- “There is more housing units being built. More potential customers.”
- “It’s increased four years in a row. I see no reason it won’t become five.”
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.