More and more we see "Coinless Laundromats". Anyone in the business or entering the business will face the age old question; Coin or Card? Well, perhaps it's not an age old question, as card systems haven't been around very long, but it is a question worth considering.
For years coins were the only vehicle to start the equipment. The first breakthrough in using a different payment method was the "Loyalty Card" system whereby a customer loaded up a card, to be used only in a particular store, for the amount they chose then used this card, which is reusable or reloadable, to start the equipment and use the vending machines or the restroom. In this environment there is only one way to spend money and that is with the card. No bills, coins or credit cards except to load up the card.
The system above is still an option as is a hybrid system whereby one can load up a loyalty card, use a credit card or use coins. Let's bring out the old, and this is old, Ben Franklin balance sheet and sees the positive and negative aspects of all three.
People are use to it, no training
Most folks have cash in their pocket
Some owners like having cash
Laundry Equipment is coin ready
More potential for theft
Collection is time consuming
Non users of Laundromat take your quarters
Coins are dirty and can affect coin drop
No coin collection, save time
System tracks all transactions
Less chance of theft
Can monitor what machines do best
People misplace card, your gain
Can monitor store via web
Expensive to buy system
Customers unfamiliar, need training
May need attendant to train and help folks
Cards cost money, need to charge customers
Some customers can't afford to leave money on card
If system goes down no revenue until back up
Take all forms of payment
Choice, can capture more customers
Can put readers on select machines
Lower cost than Loyalty System
Can run on coin so if reader goes down, ok
Can monitor store via web
Still have to do some coin
Cost of System and Readers
Instruction could be needed, labor cost
Cost of merchant account to accept credit cards
Cost per use of credit card
As you see there are good reasons to use any one of these methods of payment. Your first concern should be your customers. Some neighborhoods are great for a card system of some kind but others are not.
I have found that those in lower income areas will shy away from a Loyalty Card store, if they have a choice, as they really can't afford to leave several dollars on a card only usable for laundry and but won't need it until next week. They may need those few dollars to buy something for the family.
Your management style or how you want to spend your time will also be important. A card store would be good for the person who doesn't want to collect coins (and that can get old), wants to track all transactions, wants accurate and automatic accounting and wants to evaluate productivity of each machine.
The hybrid systems seem to be taking over and make a lot of sense to me. Again, with this system you can do it all. Most importantly you can take payment in any form. If receiving payment via cash, loyalty card and credit card is good enough for Macy's, Starbucks, Wal-Mart and the like it should be good enough for a Laundromat.
As briefly mentioned above, the hybrid store does not require that you have a reader on every machine. This allows you to experiment with a system without paying the high price of doing an entire store. Generally an owner will start with putting readers on several machines. You will choose the machines used most and the larger washers that require many quarters to start. This will be easier for those that don't want to pump all those quarters in a coin drop and it can also cause some to use large machines as people tend to spend more money with a credit card.
Some are choosing the option of using a credit card and coin only. Though some customers don't have a credit card account they can buy preloaded VISA cards at Wal-mart or Target which gives the customer options for credit card or coin. This can eliminate the need for a loyalty card and the cost of the cards and card dispensing cabinet which can get expensive.
Know that if you have any of the many card or hybrid systems out there that you will be dependent on that manufacturer for the foreseeable future for parts, service and, in most cases, your credit card processing. So make sure you choose a company that has a proven system, has staying power and fair rates for credit card processing.
We will give an honorable mention to tokens as a payment method. This is another method that seems to be coming back in fashion. There were several companies at the Clean Show in June pushing tokens and I have heard of more owners going in this direction.
There are advantages to the token. One is that it keeps the customer, or non customer, from coming into the store and taking your quarters elsewhere. This can be a time consuming problem as your quarters leave the store you have to take time and effort to replace them. Another benefit is that should someone lose a token you, in essence, just made about 12 cents. Lastly, you don't have to buy anything extra or have a computer system to use tokens.
The downside of tokens is similar to the loyalty card. Many people in some neighborhoods don't want to have "money" they can only spend in one place.
The choices are growing to be sure and all of these choices could be good but make sure they are good for YOU. What works in one store may not work in another. As always; know your customer, think of how you can serve them best then make an informed choice from there.
About The Author: Steve Erlinger specializes in assisting those buying and selling laundromats in the Orange County and Inland Empire areas. He helps potential laundry buyers navigate the many facets of finding, evaluating, and operating coin laundry businesses. He also assists current owners find additional stores or evaluate an existing store in order to help grow their business. Steve can be reached direct at 949-500-5893 for more information.
|Helpful Resources To Assist In Selling And Buying California Businesses|
|Mike Hurrell, Broker: Coin & Card Laundry Specialist Brokerage
Providencia Properties Inc in association with Golden State Laundry Systems is a full service Coin Laundry Real Estate Broker. At GSLS you will receive personalized attention from our professional staff of coin laundry experts. To sell or buy a Southern CA laundromat call Mike at 310-223-2240 X209.
|Larry Larsen, Broker, Laundry Specialist - Orange, LA Counties
I have over forty years of experience in the sales, ownership, management, and construction of coin laundries. He is a licensed broker active in the sale of coin laundries, a licensed insurance agent specializing in coin laundry insurance.
|Brad Steinberg, Broker - Laundromat Specialists
PWS is the leading laundromat broker in California. Since 1968 PWS has brokered over 2,500 laundromat sales. With over 90 employees dedicated to the coin laundry industry, PWS has 18 licensed agents, a 3 person in-house finance department, 10 service technicians and a 20 person parts department.
|Steve Erlinger: Laundry Broker, Consultant - Southern California
I specialize in the laundry industry broker and consultant in Southern California. I assist buyers navigate the many facets of finding, evaluating, and operating a laundry business. I also help current laundry owners find additional stores, sell, evaluate an existing laundromat.
|Chuck Post: Laundry Buyer Representation, Consulting, Due Diligence
Chuck Post has 32 years experience in the laundry industry, specializing in assisting laundry buyers (and entrepreneurs) with buying or starting up, building, re-tooling, laundries throughout California. Laundry buyer representation, consulting, due-diligence, lease negotiations, laundry valuations.
|Peter Siegel, MBA - SBA Loans, Non SBA Financing Assistance
For over 25 years I have provided niche business purchase financial advisory and loan placement services with SBA and Non-SBA Loans, Retirement Plan Conversions, Private Investors, etc. Financing amounts available: $20K to $7MM. Call today to get pre-qualified or receive financing: 866-270-6278.
|Willard Michlin, CPA, Certified Fraud Examiner, Due Diligence Services
Willard Michlin, CPA #106752, offers buyers step by step training & assistance in doing Due Diligence Services when they are thinking of making an offer, or are in process of investigating a business purchase. He helps to determine the actual net profit even when there is cash. Call 805-428-2063.
|Shalonda Chappel-Pilgram: Escrow Services - Southern CA
Escrow services to brokers & agents, owner/sellers, & buyers. Established 43 years. Extraordinary service. Experienced with handling difficult transactions. One stop for all your escrow needs: Bulk sales, lien searches, UCC searches, liquor license transfers, publishing & recording services.
|Related Articles, Events, Blog Posts, Discussions, Videos, Interviews|
|Laundromat Business Valuations: Could Buyers Of Laundries Be Overpaying?
Chuck Post (laundry buyer rep, consultant, due-diligence expert) discusses the factors of appraising laundries. Why such high purchase prices is baffling - many times the value is so misunderstood that it results in laundry buyers over-paying for a laundromat. Reach Chuck direct at 619-227-5711.
|Buying A Laundry: Coin Operated Laundromat Or Card Operated Laundromat?
More and more we see "Coinless Laundries". Anyone in the business or entering the business will face the age old question; Coin or Card? Well, perhaps it's not an age old question, but it is a question worth considering. Steve Erlinger (Laundry Broker & Consultant at 949-500-5893) explains.
|Laundromats: Are They Good Investments For Business Buyers? We Discuss This.
Are laundries good investments for buyers? Chuck Post, (at 619-227-5711 - California laundry consultant, due diligence services, and laundry buyer representation) discusses this topic with other advisors & brokers in this BizBen Discussion about laundry investments and if they are good investments.
|FREE Live Laundry Seminars For Buyers: See Our Upcoming Schedule Of Seminars
Looking to buy or start up a card or coin laundromat? PWS Laundry is presenting their schedule of upcoming Seminars for laundry buyers & entrepreneurs. These informative live Seminars will cover an overview of the laundry industry, selecting the right location, an overview of leases, Q&A, plus more.
|Determining The Value Of A Laundry Business: What Factors Are Important
Steve Erlinger (laundry Broker & Consultant at 949-500-5893) discusses how to value a laundry. Issues that affect a value include: demographics, the lease, past financial performance of the laundromat, age and condition of the equipment, utility costs, competition and other factors all play a role.
|Laundry Broker Explains Laundry Leases: 4 Big Issues For Buyers And Sellers
Chuck Post (Laundry Buyer Rep, Consultant, Due Diligence) discusses what laundry buyers and sellers should consider when reviewing and considering a laundromat lease. A must read for potential laundry buyers and owner/sellers of card and coin operated laundromats. Reach Chuck at 619-227-5711.
|When Buying A Laundry Why Buyers Should Have An Exit Strategy When Buying
Chuck Post (reach him at 619-227-5711) a laundry consultant, specialty broker, buyer representative & due diligence advisor starts this discussion on why it's important to have an exit strategy in mind while buying a laundromat! He & others explain why this concept is so important to serious buyers.
|Is The Laundry Business For You? Pros & Cons From A Laundry Broker / Advisor
Is a laundry business for you? Read the Pros and Cons of buying and operating a small or medium sized card or coin laundry. If you have ever thought about buying a card or coin-op laundromat you should read this BizBen blog post by Steve Erlinger (Laundry Broker & Consultant at 949-500-5893).
|See All News, Tips And Events|