CHICAGO — The creation and development of a “great” self-service laundry can be attributed to many factors. For many store owners responding to this quarter’s American Coin-Op Your Views survey, cleanliness is top of mind for them when someone mentions a “great” laundry.
Roughly 45% of store owners polled think first about cleanliness. Equipment mix or numbers is next, at 21.2%, followed by having a friendly owner/employee(s), 15.2%.
Customer comfort, aesthetics/décor and “other” each garnered 6.1% of the vote. Within the “other” responses, staffing, and service and experience were cited.
Aesthetics/décor is the factor that’s most overrated when judging the “greatness” of a store, according to 42.4% of respondents. Equipment mix/number is next at 15.2%, followed by customer comfort, friendly owner/employee(s) and “other,” each at 12.1%. As you might expect, cleanliness is seen as the least overrated factor; only 6.1% called it overrated.
Respondents were asked to identify their store’s best feature. Here are some of their answers:
- “Automatic doors; we are the only ones in the area with this feature.”
- “In-store music.”
- “Our employees are the best thing we have, bar none.”
- “Aisle, folding space and comfortable seating areas.”
- “Lots of equipment, all working.”
- “Retooled less than four months ago; everything is new.”
While an attended store frequently offers a service level that an unattended store doesn’t, nearly 55% of respondents say that an unattended store can still be considered “great.” Roughly 27% say no, and the remaining 18.2% are unsure. Here’s what some respondents answered, plus their reasoning:
- Yes – “Even without attendants, the other attributes still contribute to a store’s operations.”
- Not sure – “Mine is partially attended and I still have trouble keeping up with repairs, cleanliness, unwanted guests, etc.”
- Yes – “Great owners care for the equipment and resolve all customer issues. That makes a great unattended store.”
- No – “I think staff makes a store great.”
- Yes – “Attended stores often criticize unattended stores as being inadequate with little evidence to back it up. I would agree an attended store is a nice luxury but it is not necessary.”
- No – “This may be bias from a big-market perspective. However, an unattended store is simply not capable of offering all the amenities that larger stores can. That said, there is still a place for unattended stores in the overall marketplace.”
- Yes – “If the owner cares enough and has it cleaned a couple of times per day (and) all equipment is in working order.”
- No – “It can be a decent store, but you can’t get refunds, you can’t be helped, you have nobody to go to when things aren’t working properly.”
- Not sure – “Never owned unattended. How can I know? But it sure seems difficult based on what I hear.”
What about the industry’s overall image? Store owners taking the poll were asked to describe it since they opened their first laundromat. The majority, 45.5%, say it’s “more or less the same.” Slightly more than 30% believe it’s “somewhat better,” and 24.2% say our industry image is “far better.” No one taking the poll described today’s industry image as “somewhat worse” or “much worse.”
American Coin-Op’s Your Views survey presents an unscientific snapshot of the trade audience’s viewpoints. Subscribers to American Coin-Op emails are invited to participate anonymously. To better define owner/operator opinions and industry trends, the entire trade audience is encouraged to take part.