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.
|Helpful Resources To Assist In Selling And Buying California Businesses|
|Mike Hurrell, Broker: Laundry Specialist - Southern California
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.
|Peter Siegel, MBA: Business Purchase Financing Solutions
Niche business purchase financing advisory and loan placement services with SBA and Non-SBA Financing, Retirement Fund Rollover Solutions, Combo Financing Packages. To get professionally pre-qualified or more information on the ProBuy/ProSell Programs: 925-785-3118.
|Brad Steinberg, Business Broker: Laundromat Specialist
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. Call 949-500-5893.
|Peter Siegel MBA, BizBen Founder, ProBuy, ProSell, ProIntermediary Programs
Founder Of BizBen.com (since 1994). I am the Lead Advisor for the ProSell, ProBuy, & ProIntermediary Programs. I consult daily with buyers, sellers, and brokers daily about buying and selling California small to mid-sized businesses. Call 925-785-3118.
|Larry Larsen: Laundry Consulting, Brokerage, Insurance
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. Phone me at 714-630-9274 or 714-630-Wash.
|Chuck Post: Laundry Buyer Representation, Consulting, Due Diligence
32 years experience in the laundry industry, specializing in assisting laundry buyers with buying or starting up, re-tooling, laundries in Southern CA. Laundry buyer representation, consulting, due-diligence, lease negotiations, laundry valuations. Call 619-227-5711 (Cell).
|Diane Boudreau-Tschetter: Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - CA
California Business Escrow, Inc. is a full service independent escrow company serving all of California and has expertise in a wide range of escrows. Our team prides itself on providing an exceptional escrow experience. For more info phone Diane Boudreau-Tschetter at 888-383-3331 or 209-838-1100.
|Related Articles, Events, Blog Posts, Discussions, Videos, Interviews|
|Buyer Asks: Is Buying A Service Based Business A Good Choice These Days?
I've been selling businesses a long time & I get many calls from buyers who are open to buying something but aren't sure what would be a good investment. I'll get asked what I would buy if I was them and my answer is always the same, "a service business". Business broker Chris Lazurik explains.
|Increasing Your Laundry Business, Getting Your Laundromat Ready For Sale
Running a laundromat is simple, yes, but it's not easy. In this article Steve Erlinger - Laundry Broker & Consultant at 949-500-5893 will cover what it takes to increase business and get your card or coin, laundromat in top shape ready to sell for top dollar in any economic environment.
|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).
|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.
|Selling A Laundromat? Top Tips: Valuation, Pricing, Finding Buyers, Resouces
Laundrys are popular choices among business buyers as they often can be successfully run as an absentee run business. You need to be strategic about when you sell your Laundromat so you don't get taken to the cleaners! Peter Siegel, MBA (at BizBen) provides laundry purchase financing - 925-785-3118.
|Interview: With Chuck Post On How To Buy A Laundry Business Successfully
Chuck Post (and his Associate Chris Mason) a California laundry consultant, due diligence specialist, buyer representative for laundry buyers shares his thoughts with Peter Siegel, MBA on this BizBen Podcast & Webinar. Chuck and Chris cover all related topics on buying a California laundromat.
|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.
|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.