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Cashless Systems: Q&A (Part 2 of 4)

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Photo: ©iStockphoto.com/bedo

Bruce Beggs |

Manufacturer Reps Outline Benefits, Suggest Questions that Operators Should Ask Before Taking the Plunge

CHICAGO — Making the decision to shift your store’s payment system from coin to cashless, or to a hybrid, can require a great deal of research and planning. There are implementation issues from the outset, and you need to be prepared to market your operation’s changes and educate your customers about the system’s benefits and how they can best use it.

American Coin-Op invites several manufacturers of payment systems to answer some questions that the average self-service laundry owner might have:

ACO: What are some basic questions a laundry owner should ask when considering a cashless store?

Amy Gitlin, president, ESD:

  • How long has the manufacturer been manufacturing payment systems for the laundry industry?
  • How many card-operated Laundromats are using their payment systems?
  • Does their payment solution meet the current PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Security Standard) requirements?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • Does their payment solution allow for another type of card acceptance? (For example, using a laundry-only card managed by the storeowner offering rewards/benefits may be more attractive to the consumer than using their own credit or debit card.)
  • When PCI DSS requirements dictate a change in your payment systems, how will they accomplish this task?
  • Are online instant upgrades available?
  • What are the transaction fees over and above Interchange, Processing, Authorization, Chargeback, Minimums, etc.?
  • If Internet service goes down, will the store still be operational?
  • What is the system warranty?
  • What type of technical support is available?

Michael Schantz, president, Setomatic Systems:

  • Is the expense of a totally cashless store worth the added cost?
  • Am I better off buying a hybrid coin/credit card system?
  • Will my Laundromat payment system be able to handle all the future payment methods that will become mainstream in the next several months, like RFID credit cards and mobile payments?
  • Is the system PC-based or web-based?

Steve Marcionetti, product manager, Card Concepts:

  • How long has the vendor been in the Laundromat business?
  • Are Laundromats their main focus?
  • Does the vendor offer 24/7 technical support?
  • In how many Laundromat locations has the vendor installed their solution?
  • Most importantly, they should ask for references and speak to other owners who have used the product (real-world experience).

Ryan Carlson, director of marketing, WashCard Systems:

How much? The second question I would ask is what is the cost of diminishing returns? How much equipment do I need to buy to be successful? What can I get away with?

We’ve found that anyone that’s telling you to do more than 30% of your store in a hybrid situation is ... going to oversell you. If you’re doing more than a third of your equipment, you’re going to be paying debt service on equipment that’s just not getting used as much as it should or needs to be to justify its existence.

Another question would be what does my upgrade path look like? How expandable is it? How well does it scale to customer demand?

If you're looking at a hybrid store that offers credit cards, here is the No. 1 question I would ask: What kind of control do I have over the ongoing fees?

Kevin Hietpas, director of sales and marketing, Dexter Laundry:

Understand exactly what you’re buying, and make sure you and your supplier are ready to fully support your new system. An owner is essentially choosing the IT infrastructure of their laundry. If a storeowner isn’t fully familiar with installation, upkeep and troubleshooting of such systems, they need to be comfortable that their local supplier is capable of providing that support.

Owners should keep in mind that different systems can provide a cashless option, but they also operate differently and provide varying levels of machine control and remote management capabilities. I suggest they do a self-assessment, outlining what they really want the system to do and focus on those most important features when comparing systems.

Tomorrow: What are the top two or three reasons why laundry owners may be hesitant to go cashless?

Click here for Part 1.

To learn more about payment systems:

Card Concepts — laundrycard.comDexter Laundry — dexter.com/laundry/products/management/ESD — esdcard.comSetomatic Systems — setomatic.comWashCard — washcard.com

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.

Comments

A good follow-up series would

A good follow-up series would be a discussion about payment systems with store owners rather than manufacturers. These "questions to ask" coming from manufacturers are geared toward selling that manufacturer's specific system. In a rural, tourist-based market, people don't come waving their iPhones at a machine to mobile-pay. RFID credit cards are feared here since a scammer can gather your information just walking by your wallet. I don't need to even think about "Will my Laundromat payment system be able to handle all the future payment methods that will become mainstream in the next several months, like RFID credit cards and mobile payments?"...

Understanding what you're buying, how much it costs - short term and long - and being ready to use and support such a system are all good bits of advice.

Here's another one the laundromat owner should ask: which payment system manufacturer is even willing to work with a particular brand of equipment? Not naming names here, but one of your panelists is famous for not being willing to even try to install their payment systems on a major brand of equipment. (That equipment brand is in use in over 50% of laundromats in my market segment.)

I guess the bottom line is, why are we taking pre-sales advice from sales-people? I would much rather read about or hear from successful store owners who have used these various systems. The experiences they've had, the trials and tribulations they went through, how it's marketed to customers at the laundromat level, etc...

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