Our publication is geared toward Canadian launderers, dry cleaners, wet cleaners and allied trades members. As such, we support and promote Canadian associations every chance we get.
A gap in the Canadian associations is one that focuses on the needs of the coin laundry owner/operator. Fortunately, the Coin Laundry Association in the U.S. is a fantastic resource for such businesses, even if all the benefits don’t transfer north of the border.
For 60 years, the CLA has put its efforts into research, education, advocacy, and support from industry experts to help individual coin laundry owners improve their operations and profitability. One tool that is particularly helpful is the association’s annual Laundry Industry Survey.
The CLA was kind enough to share the 2020 survey with Fabricare Canada so we can give you a taste of the wealth of information you’ll find in it. The results of the survey are available to members, and available for sale to non-members.
The beauty of a large association like CLA is that an annual survey brings in plenty of responses. In this case, 240 out of 850 coin laundry professionals shared their information with CLA and Readex Research. (Readex is a nationally recognized independent research company located in Stillwater, MN.) The findings highlighted in the report are based on the 215 respondents who indicated they currently own at least one self-service laundry store.
The survey was conducted via mail, with an online completion option, from April 12 to May 27, 2021, so this is up-to-date information.
What’s in it?
The survey asked about things that you, as a self-service laundry owner, would want to find out about others in the business – be they competitors or others across a wide geographical area that is similar to your own.
Specific areas of inquiry included:
type and size of store, including ancillary services offered and number of machines
the number of self-service laundry stores owned by respondents’ organizations
plans to sell, build or purchase self-service laundries
store operations, including hours open, number of employees, and employee wages
store financial information, including current vend prices, expectations for price increases, rent per month, gross revenues, and net profit
the biggest problems respondents face in the industry
Results are tabulated as a whole, and also by geographic areas across the U.S., with states listed in each division. This makes it easy to extrapolate data from a region like yours, and see how you’re doing in comparison.
Interesting tidbits from the survey
The pandemic has been hard on a lot of industries, but self-service laundries quickly became essential as people everywhere focused on issues of cleanliness and removing anything that could be infectious. From this standpoint, these laundries did not suffer the way the dry cleaning side of the industry did, since stay-at-home workers wore the kinds of garments that lend themselves to standard washing and drying.
One difficulty that did arise in the last two years has been a coin shortage in the U.S. Appeals went out through mainstream media, newsletters from banks and radio news stories to empty piggy banks and change jars, to bring the coins to banks for depositing.
According to the survey, 86% of respondents said quarters were used to operate at least some of their machines (with laundry cards a distant second at 24%), and over half use only quarters (as opposed to laundry cards, debit/credit cards, dollar coins, and mobile apps).
In terms of equipment, the vast majority of washers were front loading, with 18–24-lb. the most popular size. 30-lb. dryers were preferred over all other sizes combined. Vend prices for top-load washers ranged from $2.85 for the popular size, all the way up to $9.18 for 75–80-lb. washers. Dryers were priced on time, with 84% saying they did not offer full-cycle dryer pricing at all.
Ancillary services bring in good revenue, and those surveyed offer all sorts of things. In addition to the traditional soap vending (83% offered it) and soda/snack vending (82%), other options were TV (69%) and Wi-Fi access (65%), laundry bag sales (60%), video game(s) (31%), over-the-counter soap sales (27%), ATM available (27%). Other amenities (all under 15%) included children’s play area, ironing/pressing, alterations, hot food and/or drink, and pet washing.
Over half of the respondents offered wash/dry/fold services, whether drop-off (51%) or pick-up/delivery (18%).
Get connected, get the information
The depth of the annual survey is admirable, breaking down all kinds of costs that owners have to manage (personnel, utilities, rent, marketing) and also details about what challenges today’s self-serve laundries face. This is the 25th year CLA has done the survey.
If you are serious about your self-serve laundry business, you need all the support you can get. CLA is a great place to look. Join with other operators who are moving ahead by having the knowledge they need to make wise decisions.
Becca Anderson spent 17 years in public relations, advertising and corporate PR before joining Fabricare Canada in 2000. She was named editor in 2013, and welcomes feedback about the magazine via the contact form on this site.