In the minds of many would-be owners and investors, a laundromat conjures certain images. Unless you’ve visited a newly opened or renovated laundromat, you may be unaware of the technological advancements and management resources that drive their growth and push the market in a new direction. As manufacturers introduce more energy efficient machines with flexible, coinless laundry payment options, laundromats are becoming highly automated businesses that require minimal owner oversight and provide customers unprecedented levels of convenience.
This means that modern laundry has a higher surplus budget to spend on amenities like flatscreen televisions, vending machines, lighting and cleaning services. These new trends ensure that the old picture of the unsavory, unclean coin-operated laundromat is effectively replaced by the laundromat of tomorrow, here today: completely coinless (or hybrid card-and-coin operated) machines, convenient, clean, aesthetically-pleasing, and profitable.
Coinless laundry payment solutions have a much more user-friendly operation, while greater automation frees up owners to invest in other amenities such as high-speed Wi-Fi, premium facility lighting and higher quality food and beverage offerings. As these trends proliferate across the industry, laundromats are becoming more inviting spaces for patrons and smart investments for potential owners.
The laundry industry is undergoing a period of rapid renewal and innovation. The introduction of coinless laundry as an alternative to coin operation has revolutionized the laundry industry and allowed for increased automation and off-site management for storeowners.
In contrast to conventional coin operation, digital laundry payment systems reduce the frequency of coin collection and provide owners with more flexible pricing options. Laundromat investors and owners can exercise greater control over pricing by setting penny incremental rates, instead of bulky quarter pricing raises, for different days of the week, or only during surge hours, sales, or specials—with all transactional data from these coinless laundry payment readers being automatically reported wirelessly. Customers in turn benefit from the option of using reusable payment or “loyalty cards” or a debit/credit card at any cashless digital card reader. Customers can even pay digitally through smartphone interfaces like the FasCard app.
These technological advancements have drawn more investors to the laundromat industry. Both investors and owners are increasingly seeking minimal on-site management obligations, either as remote managers or absentee owners. As machine manufacturers introduce more automation features, laundromat owners are spending less time on-site. With the option of overseeing vend and pricing operations from any internet-enabled device—plus payment and secure Add/Transfer Value kiosks that allow customers to add or transfer value onto proprietary loyalty cards—no attendant necessary—laundromat owners are free to focus their time elsewhere or reinvest funds saved on employee wages back into the business.
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As laundromats become more automated, many owners have opted to defy convention and create inviting spaces with refined amenities.
Laundromat owners are quickly replacing the often cramped and dimly lit laundromats of the past with stylish, clean and spacious facilities featuring an array of entertainment options, including large televisions and Wi-Fi accessibility. The renewed emphasis on creating a pleasing, safe environment has undone persistent stereotypes and attracted new generations of laundromat customers.
While many trends in the laundry industry reflect recent developments in completely digital, all cashless payment and monitoring systems, others testify to the resourcefulness of owners to overcome economic challenges.
As water and sewage prices increase across the country, owners are turning to higher efficiency machines and water saving strategies to compensate. Laundromat investors and owners alike are adopting preventative maintenance routines to ward off unnecessary leaks and to combat the rising costs of utilities. In fact, the influence of increased utility costs has contributed in part to the rapid innovation of the industry and to the increased levels of convenience experienced by laundromat customers.
Investing in newer, more efficient machines defrays the rising costs of doing business while providing owners with the opportunity to upgrade to coinless laundry payment methods.
With technological innovation fueling a laundry industry renaissance, investors in all industries, but especially the laundry industry, seeking minimal management obligations are returning to this proven business model. In the meantime, customers are benefiting from the convenience and comfort of new amenities and aesthetic priorities. While economic challenges will remain a factor for the foreseeable future, their immediate impact has been to drive innovation and protect profitability, trends that indicate a vibrant market for years to come.