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Coin Op Laundry

The revolution: what you need to know

Who needs to wash clothes? The answer is everyone! Washing clothes is as necessary as food and shelter and therefore coin-operated laundries are a perfect example of an unexplored opportunity for passive income generation within the accommodation industry.

In order to define coin laundries the Coin Laundries Association states, “Coin laundries are one part of the self-service laundry business; the industry is actually comprised of two distinct segments. The first is coin-op laundries and coin-operated machines located in apartment housing represents the second. This apartment segment of the business is referred to as the multi-housing laundry business or the coin route business.”

In America there has been a recent coin laundry revolution – no longer are coin laundries seen as dingy, unsafe, boring places that customers dare to enter, they are fast becoming fun and attractive multi-service centers that customers can enjoy. “The industry is now getting a facelift,” says Brian Wallace the president and CEO of the Coin Laundries Association, a US association for self-service laundry owners. “There’s a trend toward coin laundries being more comfortable for the customer.” Newer laundries may now have snack bars and video games. Some of them don’t even use coins. Instead, customers use swipe cards that subtract the cost of the wash or dry, much like a phone or debit card.

As the hospitality industry is one of the largest consumer markets in Australia for commercial laundry suppliers there is great opportunity here to capitalise on existing income by changing your property’s laundry method. In addition you may consider maximising your profits by providing customers with access to multiple services and by utilising laundry space to its fullest potential. By creating a facility with the best equipment available and adding additional services to create extra revenue.

Having an efficient laundry is one of the most vital and luxurious services offered to guests within a hotel and the installation of paid laundry facilities is a cost effective way of boosting this service. Deciding when it is time to update your laundry and choosing what type of equipment to install is not any easy task by any stretch of the imagination. There are several factors that should define your choice of equipment.

For a successful coin laundry installation, you must ensure that you have the most up-to-date technology available to meet the required standards. Investing in the newest technology can be expensive but the savings made will often pay for itself in just a few short years. Coin operated machines should attract users and thus encouraging your guests to use the facilities will benefit you. Consideration must be given to how easy the machines are for guests to use and what payment system they are expected to use – coin or card operated. Simplicity and convenience is key to ensuring maximum user friendliness.

The installation must also be designed to fit the physical, spatial constraints of your property. For the basics you must have sufficient floor space for a well-planned layout that allows for laundry pre-sorting areas and a pre-soak sink. There should be adequate installation and service area around the machines plus room for a worktop or table for sorting and folding, and separate clean and soiled work areas to prevent contamination. You should also match the size of the dryers to the washing machines so that machines can be used consecutively ensuring that a bottleneck is not created.

The choices you are faced with are vast but most importantly you need to find the coin operated laundry equipment that will fit your needs and your space. When working with limited space most suppliers can offer a range of solutions. Lisa Horne, managing director from Aqualogic, advises you to consider, “space saving washer/dryer stack combinations, allowing maximum use of space in a small laundry room. Our range of stack dryers gives double the drying capacity in the same space.”

These are the basic requirements but you could also consider ways of “sexing” up your laundry: ensure that it is nicely designed, light and bright, has vending machines and perhaps games or toys. A space that is well designed, fun and offers additional services will attract customers and therefore increase income. Owner/director Gabrielle Worthington a Maytag distributor from Dependable Laundry Solutions, suggests that you let your imagination run wild. “Unlike America, apart from a few rare exceptions, Australian laundromats do not offer much in the way of extra, or add-on, amenities.”

To address this, she says “our next challenge, in our distributorship areas, is to establish and sell the advantages of invitingly modern, well designed laundries full of sparkling new machines, perhaps with a coffee machine and a lounge area for while-you-wait customers. Perhaps also a couple of vending machines to help increase the profit; a drop-and-go bag wash service; an ironing service. A clean, well-lit, well-appointed and well-run modern laundry provides an opportunity for an excellent cash revenue stream for our clients.”

Naturally, when you are replacing the technology it must be replaced with equipment that works in the space to very high reliability rate and it must also meet all operational requirements. In house laundry equipment is a workhorse as it can be used by a large variety of people for 24 hours a day. If equipment is too small to handle the usually vast volume of washing guests usually have, then the machine will be over-worked and operating for longer hours; therefore it will be prone to failure and equally energy will be wasted. Most importantly, the system must be maintained and commercial warranties along with nationally available servicing are crucial to keep in mind when choosing a particular brand of machine. Most laundry suppliers offer at least a five-year warranty.

Acquiring new laundry systems should present an ideal opportunity to ensure better water efficiency. According to the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, “Commercial laundries and dry-cleaners are increasingly considering environmental performance as part of their planning and operational procedures. Adopting eco-efficient business practices will not only benefit the environment, they will also improve business operational efficiency and reduce costs.”

All suppliers have more efficient water usage in mind, Mark Stathakis from Australia’s Speed Queen offers the choice of, “New technology that is easy-to-use and has high turnaround, while increasing water efficiency and reducing energy costs. The control offers 30 programmable wash cycles, three cycle types and output for an external end-of-cycle signal. This cutting-edge technology gives managers unparalleled ability to reduce water and energy costs through advanced programmability.

Doing good business should never be hampered by whether or not to invest in the right equipment, Speed Queen offers customised finance options to aid and assist coin laundry owners in making the right choice based on their immediate needs and budget”

Optimum energy and water efficiency are things that both you and your supplier should work through together to improve the overall environmental performance and reduce operational costs. Broadcast your efforts! Guests need to be informed about all the green strategies and achievements that your property has made. Efforts made to benefit the environment may be the extra persuasion a guest requires choosing your accommodation over a competitor’s. Remember that innovative owners are owners who do their best to build up their green credentials.

Enviro-laundry is most definitely the future. With utility costs higher then they have ever been, the choice of more energy efficient equipment with less impact on the environment is crucial. Equipment that uses less energy, less water and that is more efficient in every sense of the word ensures by extension that substantial savings are made. With respect operating coin laundries it is important to note that the most significant cost to operators involves utility costs. Technology is becoming more and more enviro-efficient by the day as new innovations break through all the time smart technology is taking over all areas of the industry including your laundry. Libby Baldwin marketing manager at Richard Jay agrees – she says that the future is with smart technology, “Smartphone applications that will advise the user what machines are available and how long the cycle has to complete and when the cycle is completed.”

Perhaps the most important lessons here when contemplating a laundry change is to do your research, seek advice from those who are most knowledgeable in the industry and use your imagination! Remember to be innovative with your laundries; set the bar; use innovative technology and design that not only makes your guests lives easier but is better for the environment, cuts your utility costs and also has the potential to increase your passive income and overall profitability. Ensure that your chosen machines are built to commercial-grade with at least a five year warranty with customer service that includes ongoing servicing and spare parts to keep your laundry running and remember to use exciting design that is fun and optimises space. Keep in mind the future developments occurring with smart technology and if you have an energy management system ensure the technologies “talk”.

Most importantly, seek a company to supply your equipment that will offer solid customer service and one that is positioned at the forefront of the industry with access to the latest technological innovations. Don’t forget to be imaginative; your new style laundry is waiting to be created!

About Kim Armstrong-Fray

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