Posts tagged "investment"

Your customers are the key to the success of your laundromat. Understanding what their needs are, what they have come to expect in a laundromat, and their frustrations can help you increase customer satisfaction and in turn, the profits of your laundromat. On the other hand, failing to understand those needs can be detrimental to your business.

Below are four common laundromat customer complaints and how you can turn those problems into opportunities, by using the latest technology in your store.

Customer Complaint #1: “I never have cash on me.”

A large percentage of your customers rarely, if ever carry cash and find that it’s a big hassle to obtain cash and quarters. With our world becoming a cashless society, people don’t want to have to visit a bank or an ATM to do laundry, carry around a bag of coins or find out they can’t keep a load of laundry going because they’re shy a couple of quarters.

Solution:
Eliminate the need to pay solely with coins by offering card acceptance. Give your customers the choice to pay any way they choose! CCI systems allow you to accept credit/debit cards and loyalty cards. With FasCard, customers can even insert some coins and swipe their card for the remaining balance.

Customer Complaint #2: “I don’t carry a wallet. My wallet is my phone.”

Smartphones play an integral role in our lives. Today’s smartphone wallets store credit cards, tickets, coupons and more. Everything that was once in a consumer’s physical wallet is now in their digital wallet on their phone. Customers want to be able to pay with their phones and have come to expect to be able to do so with most goods and services.

Solution:
CCI’s FasCard system has a smartphone app that acts as a loyalty card. Customers who use the app no longer need to own a physical card but can use the app in the same way. They can take advantage of any of the loyalty programs you offer, and the app will keep track of it all.

Our complete card systems allow you to accept mobile payments, NFC payments, credit/debit payments and can even work with existing coin laundry machines.

Customer Complaint #3: “I don’t have five hours to sit and wait for laundry.”

Your customers have busy schedules and don’t want to spend leisure time doing laundry. Their time is valuable, and they don’t want the process of doing laundry to be time-consuming. If a customer’s laundry takes longer than expected due to events such as all machines being in use, it can create frustration and turns the experience of doing laundry into a negative one, likely preventing them from returning to your store.

Solution:
FasCard App users can see what machines are available without needing to physically be in your store, and they can also see the remaining cycle time of machines currently in use, giving them time to plan their commute and how long it will take to do their laundry. In addition, app users can request cycle completion notifications and even start a machine. When your customers do have to wait in your establishment, consider making it convenient by providing amenities such as free Wi-Fi or coffee (which can also increase your revenue).

Customer Complaint #4: “I want a personalized experience.”

It’s like the lyric in the Cheers theme song, “You want to go where everybody knows your name”. It’s cheesy but true. Customers desire to feel like they are wanted. They want to be appreciated and treated like a valuable part of your business. If a customer doesn’t feel welcome, they will most likely go to a competitor, and might even leave a negative review on your Google or Yelp page.

Solution:
FasCard and LaundryCard loyalty programs offer personalization by letting you establish discounts for certain groups (i.e. college students) or giving bonuses near your customer’s birthday. They also provide the ability for your customer to choose the language they prefer, and the system will remember their language preference and continue to display appropriately in the future. CCI systems offer many features that help you truly get to know your customers and effectively market to them, creating a memorable customer experience that can increase loyalty to your store.

Upgrade Your Laundromat

FasCard and LaundryCard from CCI offer the industry’s most advanced card payment systems, designed with both the operator and end user in mind. Contact us today to learn more about our payment solutions and how investing in the right technology can help you meet the needs of your customers and increase the profits of your laundromat business!

If you’re asking yourself if you should purchase a laundromat, this 6 point checklist will help you determine whether or not it’s the right investment for you.

History of the Laundromat

The first laundromat, then called a “Wash-a-teria”, opened its doors in Ft. Worth, Texas in the Depression-era 1930s. Soon, the popularity of laundromats exploded and storefronts spread across the country. The first laundromats were geared toward self-service—which was a change from the earlier commercial companies that laundered, folded, and pressed clothing as a complete service—which means customers paid by the hour to wash their clothing using early electric coin-operated washing machines.

These coin-operated laundry machines enabled those who were affected by the Depression and couldn’t afford personal washing machines another option: deposit a few coins and rent a washing machine for a period of time. Even after the rise of affordable household or in-unit washing and drying machines, laundromats have since never lost their enduring appeal for the convenience, economy, and ubiquity they offer.

Of course, laundry equipment has radically changed since the early 20th century. Tub washers made of porcelain or copper were replaced by sleek stainless steel top-load and front-load electric machines in the 1950s and 1960s. Large, power-consuming machines were ousted by energy-efficient, low water washers. Coin-slot mechanisms gave way to digital card-operated payment systems, which give laundromat owners abilities to remotely manage their stores in capacities never imagined.

Today, there are some 35,000 laundromats operating in the United States, generating over $5 billion in total revenue annually.

Mature Market: Laundromats Today

Modern laundromats have had to constantly update and keep abreast of the current developments in laundry technology to stay competitive, including the addition of amenities such as free Wi-Fi, flatscreen televisions, vending machines, and children’s areas with family-friendly entertainment.

Some laundromat owners choose to stay open 24/7—upping their convenience factor—and some are completely automated, meaning an owner, manager or employee doesn’t need to be in the store at all, while some storefronts have several employees to help patrons with services like changing cash or coin into proprietary store credit for vends.

Even considering these new trends in the laundry industry, the basic model of the self-service laundry industry has remained the same as it was over 80 years ago. Many things relating to the business model of laundromats has changed, however, including a higher return on investment with these more customer-oriented ancillary services and the ability for many owners to self-manage their stores remotely as absentee owners. Laundromats are so ingrained in the American landscape that it is considered to be a mature market.

Is a Laundromat the Right Investment For You?

Laundromats have become a canny choice for investors and entrepreneurs looking to play a minor role in the day-to-day operations of a business, who want to tailor a business to their exact wants and specifications—since most laundromats aren’t franchises—and who want the feeling of security that a laundromat’s steady income can bring.

If you’re thinking of buying a laundromat, it’s best to research what to expect in the buying process, management duties, and to add up the potential expenses, costs and bills along the way.

We’ve created this checklist of 6 items to cover in detail when buying a laundromat. With all of these tips come the caution of due diligence: A potential buyer will want to check everything thoroughly; talk to multiple owners, consult relevant professionals, like real estate agents, laundry machine maintenance and repair companies and experts and others.

Want to know the secret to running a profitable laundromat? Download our ebook — From Novice to Veteran: The Savvy Owner’s Guide To A Profitable Laundromat.

Use this checklist as a guide for what to expect when buying a laundromat.

1. Location

If there were ever a time to repeat old real estate platitude, “location, location, location,” it’s when you’re doing research on buying a laundromat. Locations in urban areas near

  • Clusters of apartment complexes,
  • In or near a university town, or
  • A tightly-knit, busy strip shopping center with other collaborative businesses and no competitors.

are the best bets for your laundromat. Multi-Housing facilities and apartment complexes usually have community area laundry rooms, but many residents are loyal to local laundromats. These types of residents that are spread across a sprawling multi-family property are the perfect demographic. Locations near colleges and universities are also attractive, with the vast majority of students using the services of a laundromat.

Don’t forget about a laundromat’s virtual location.

It is also a wise move to make sure that the laundromat business you’re interested in buying is listed on search engines, as many first-time customers choose which laundry service to patronize based on a Google search for “laundromats near me”.

If the laundromat you’re looking at has a good marketing strategy, they may even have an agency create web-based ads for the store. The more prominent a store’s presence in Google, Bing and Yahoo search engines and the higher its reviews on forums like Yelp!, the more likely the store to be profitable.

2. Expenses, Costs and Profit

Laundromats have few costly recurring expenses, but potential buyers—whether they are searching to buy an existing laundromat or even to build a new store— should be aware of each of these expenses. The lease for a laundromat’s actual storefront will be the highest monthly expense, and buyers in the market today should look for a lease term that is suited to industry standards. If possible, try to find a longer lease term that is amenable to your budget.

In many cases, however—if the current proprietor of the laundromat doesn’t own the location—they have a contract with a leasing company. This would mean that the lease would transfer over to you after you sign the contract.

Naturally, when buying any business, a solid budgetary plan is the first necessary step to factor the initial investment costs of a laundromat and recurring expenses. Whether you’re buying an existing space or building a new store from the ground up. If you are buying an existing space, the costs can range anywhere from $200,000 to $500,000.

Not to be overlooked when calculating overall expenses is possible renovation, which could mean the difference between a rapidly successful store and a business that sees only passersby. If you get a great deal on a store, there may be a reason the owner is selling so low. If the store is just barely hanging on, rundown with equipment in disrepair, completely revitalizing and renovating the laundromat could turn the former derelict store into a profitable business, buzzing with constant activity and foot traffic.

3. Management

How much time an owner spends in their store is entirely dependent on the owner’s prerogative. An owner can spend as little or as much time in their store as they want. Laundromats are particularly amenable to absentee owners, due to the automated, self-service nature of the business and new technology like digital card payment systems.

If an owner invests in digital card payment systems, loyalty cards which can be used to pay for vends at that store can be dispensed automatically via a payment kiosk without the need for an in-store attendant. Customers also add value, and redeem loyalty program benefits, discounts, and promotions right from the X-Changer kiosk.

4. Equipment

Check the existing equipment thoroughly. If you aren’t experienced in testing commercial laundry equipment, do some research on the washing or drying machine operation, read relevant model manuals, or call the specific manufacturer to get some information. You can also contact a laundry repair service and see if you can have a professional assist you in helping to inspect the machines.

Take a fine tooth comb to the machines, are they large industrial washers and dryers? Do they look clean? How old are they? Current maintenance or problems? Do they have digital payment systems, like FasCard and LaundryCard, or is it a coin-only laundry?

Some of the most common problems with washing and drying machines to add to your assessment checklist are:

  • Noticeably broken equipment (“out of order” signs, missing components),
  • Visible damage to machines,
  • Leaks,
  • Age of the equipment,
  • Failures in the drain systems of the washers,
  • Agitation mechanism washers (e.g. too fast, too slow, not functioning at all),
  • Abuse—dented, broken, or substandard quality machines
  • Coin-slot mechanisms (if applicable),
  • Digital displays on touchscreen card readers (if applicable).

Also, if the potential store is outfitted with digital laundry payment systems, either cashless card-only and coin-and-card systems, the possibility of a large amount of “float” could add to the appeal of the store.

5. Competition

Is the store you’re looking at buying near another laundromat, you may want to consider doing some commercial recon on your potential competition.

  • Is there a competitor within a two mile radius from the store you’re looking at buying?
  • Is there more than one laundromat within that radius?
  • Do they have a loyal customer base?
  • What is your competition’s demographic?
  • Are your competitors open 24/7?
  • Do they offer “fold and dry” or dry cleaning services?

If your competition looks to be fairly successful and nearby, then it may be a good idea to check elsewhere for a store.

6. Additional Revenue Sources

Does your store have a good reputation for convenience and comfort? Does it need many renovations?
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Does it have extra amenities and new technology, like

  • Digital card readers for machines,
  • Vending machines (both food—cold drinks, coffee, and snacks—and washing detergent and dryer sheets),
  • Free Wi-Fi,
  • Flatscreen televisions,
  • High efficiency machines, and
  • Full-time staff?

A laundromat can be one of the wisest business investments, with due diligence on the part of the investor and a few upgrades, a laundromat storefront can become and continue to be a profitable investment for years to come.

Learn more about investing in and running a profitable laundromat by downloading our guide to a profitable laundromat.

If you would like to learn more about buying a laundromat or digital card payment systems, Card Concepts Inc. is here to help. Contact CCI for more information.

CCI’s products are not just card systems that allow you to accept alternative payments. Our products are advanced automation systems that provide you a holistic solution to running your laundry business. We are continually making improvements to our products to take your laundromat to the next level, and we are excited to announce our latest system update for FasCard, Release 14. At CCI, we design all of our products with both the operator and end user in mind and Release 14 for FasCard is no exception. The latest upgrade for FasCard has innovative features that benefit users, employees, managers and owners.

Here are the new additions included in the latest system release for FasCard:

1) Modern and Personalized Customer Benefits

  • In-App Apple Pay Your customers can now use Apple Pay on their iPhones to add value to their loyalty account! Smartphone users have the choice to purchase a flat amount or preconfigured value packages (i.e. Buy $10, Get $11). Having the ability to make in-app purchases with a credit card or Apple Pay is a modern convenience for your customers and takes your laundry facility to the next level.   
  • Spanish Language FasCard now has added Spanish language support for customer card reader functions to help you meet the needs of Spanish speaking laundry customers. Your users can choose between Spanish and English instructions and the FasCard system will remember your customer’s language preference and continue to display appropriately.

2) Automated and Remote Employee Management

  • Scheduled Tasks With the new FasCard release, you can schedule repeating tasks for your attendants and have them view and update their progress through the FasCard smartphone app. You are also able to run reports to view which attendants completed tasks and if they were completed on time, giving you a whole new level of remote store management.
  • Employee Work Schedule Through the FasCard admin portal, you can create, edit and monitor one-time and ongoing employee work schedules. Using the FasCard smartphone app, your employees can view their upcoming work schedules. Employees can now clock in and out from any FasCard reader in the store. Operators may verify the hours for completed shifts using the Employee Hours Report.   

3) Added Features to Credit Card Processing

  • Maximum Daily Credit Card Limit You can configure a maximum daily purchase amount from any single credit card so that users cannot charge over a certain amount per credit card, per day. Setting a daily credit card limit helps you reduce fraud potential and limits your liability.
  • Offline Credit Card Mode Even if your internet goes offline, credit cards can still be used by your customers and transactions are processed when internet connectivity is restored.  

4) New Internet Services Available

  • Cellular Backup Cellular Backup is a low cost, peace of mind option for FasCard locations looking for maximum ‘uptime’. The system automatically goes over to cellular connection when primary internet fails and falls back to primary service once internet is restored.
  • CCI Internet Service CCI has a new option for FasCard locations looking for low cost internet options. Reliable LTE 4G wireless service is easy to configure and manage and plans start as low as $20 a month (*taxes and fees not included).

Release 14 is available August 2017 and is provided at no additional cost to all FasCard customers. If you’re interested in learning more about FasCard or implementing CCI’s solutions in your laundromat, contact us today!

Technology has made just about everything in our lives more convenient and that includes the management and use of multi-unit laundry rooms. Having modern amenities in your laundry room such as online monitoring via smartphones and card payment systems will bring value to your property and set your property apart from the competition. As an owner or manager, introducing automated systems into your laundry room will save you time and money and reduce the stress of running a laundry room. In this blog post, we’ll show you how bringing technology into your multi-unit laundry room will turn it into a profitable and valued amenity of your property that is easy to manage.

Remote Management

Installing CCI’s FasCard system in your laundry room gives you the ability to manage cash and collections, provide immediate customer service, configure vend prices, implement marketing programs, run sales reports and monitor the status of equipment – all live and remotely from your smartphone or laptop! Having web-based management means accessing your FasCard system is simple and can be performed from any web browser so you can manage your laundry room at anytime from anywhere. With FasCard you can accept cash payments and resolve problems without having someone physically there. If a tenant or guest has a problem with a machine, you can simply log into their account and refund their money.

Card and Coin Auditing

Using FasCard in your laundry room allows you to audit both coin and card sales on any specific machine. This will give you the ability to not only track the success of your credit card sales but monitor the number of coins in each machine. You can configure FasCard to send you email notifications when coin boxes reach capacity so you collect only when you need to. If you are having someone else collect for you, you can receive an email notification that details the coins collected from each machine once your collector has finished. Having less cash in your machines will reduce theft and you’ll always know at any time how much money is in your laundry room. FasCard isn’t just a card payment system; it introduces a holistic solution to running your laundry room.

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Flexible Payment Options

Installing FasCard in your laundry room makes the experience of doing laundry easy, quick and stress free. Whether a customer prefers using currency or credit/debit cards, FasCard provides the ultimate in convenience by accepting all types of payment. Customers can even insert some coins and swipe their card for the balance. By adding card acceptance, you are make it easier for your customers to use your laundry room, encourage more use of your machines and therefore produce more revenue for you. No longer do your residents have to obtain coins and cash or deal with the hassles of coin dispensing equipment. In addition, our F2 Card Reader makes it even easier for your customers to pay for their cycles.

Smartphone App

Residents want to complete their laundry as quickly and efficiently as possible. With FasCard, instead of your consumer having to revolve their schedule around doing laundry, the laundry card system makes it convenient for them to do their laundry and easily fits into their busy schedule. Smartphones play an integral role in our lives and FasCard includes a smartphone app for today’s latest devices. From their smartphone, your customers will be able to create an account, add value, manage loyalty cards, check machine availability, request cycle completion notifications and even start a machine! No longer do your residents have to make unnecessary trips to the laundry room to check the status of machines, sit around and wait for their cycle to complete or risk loss of clothes sitting in the machines for hours.

CCI’s systems will give you the technological tools to create a modern laundry room that is a valuable business, easy to manage, and meets the needs of residents and guests. Our FasCard system is a perfect fit for multi-housing applications such as apartment buildings, hotels, condominium buildings and residence halls. If you’re a property owner or manager looking to get more out of your facility’s laundry room, contact us today to learn more about our FasCard payment solutions and how investing in the technology can take your laundry room to the next level!

Today’s laundry equipment is more advanced than ever. One of the most popular features of modern laundry equipment is multi-vending or cycle based pricing which gives you the ability to charge different vend amounts depending on the cycle selection of the user. This allows store owners to increase profits simply by offering their customers the ability to upgrade their cycles (extra rinse/wash), as well as charge more for hot water or less for cold. Selling these upgrades to your customers is a powerful way to increase sales and maximize your profits.

Cycle upgrades (extra rinse/wash) and variable priced cycle options (more for hot, less for cold) are unique capabilities that make a positive impact on a store’s bottom line, but only if the payment system supports them properly. FasCard and LaundryCard are fully compatible with these features because of their ‘multi-vend’ interface. ‘Multi-Vend’ refers to a type of card reader to machine interface that allows the card reader and the machine to communicate back and forth and allow these features. See our compatibility guide to learn more about how we integrate with today’s latest brands. CCI’s laundry payment systems are compatible with nearly every make and model of commercial laundry equipment.

CCI’s multi-vend interface is seamless in that it allows the machine to ‘sell’ these upgrades without the user having to touch the card reader. Others may claim to ‘work’ with these latest controls, but require the user to press buttons on their card reader to match the price on the machine. CCI rises above the competitive products and integrates deeply with the machine’s control ensuring a more natural user experience. Installing a CCI payment system on a multi-vend compatible machine means there are no unnecessary steps for your customers to use these features which makes it easier for your customers to purchase upgrades and ultimately means your customers will buy more often and your profits will grow.

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Investing in a CCI payment system pays for itself in many ways and being able to sell upgrades is one way to do that. Customers that pay using a credit card are less resistant to cycle based upgrades, allowing better profits from your machines. They no longer have to insert more quarters to buy another wash cycle. The impact of raising the price for hot water or an upcharge for an extra rinse/wash is very minimal to your customer but could have a tremendous positive impact on your bottom line. You are also meeting the needs of customers by offering these features, setting your laundromat business apart from the others. With CCI’s payment systems, you can run a detailed multi-vend analysis report and see the usage percentage for different temperatures and extra washes/rinses. One store owner saw that his customers selected extra rinses more frequently in his 80 lb washers vs. his 30 lb washers. He determined this was probably due to the larger machines being used more for bedding because the extra rinse feature is needed to remove soap from thicker items like pillows and comforters.

When you are able to offer cycle upgrade options, you are giving your customers the ability to customize their laundry which separates you from competitors and keeps your customers coming back to your laundromat.  When customers take advantage of these features, it adds to your ROI and improves your profitability. FasCard and LaundryCard from CCI offer the industry’s most advanced card payment systems designed with both the operator and end user in mind. Contact us today to learn more about our payment solutions and how investing in the technology can give you more ways to increase the profits of your laundromat business!

Karl Hinrichs has been in the commercial laundry business since 1980 and is the president of HK Laundry Equipment, Inc. Since 1967, HK Laundry Equipment, Inc. has been serving New York and Connecticut with laundry equipment, service and repair and training and support. HK Laundry Equipment, Inc. is a distributor of CCI’s FasCard and LaundryCard systems.

How did you get involved in the commercial laundry industry?

In 1967, my father and neighbor formed a partnership equipping stores with washers. When I was 13 years old, I would bring my toolbox up there, and by the time I was 16 years old, I was out fixing the machines. In 1980, I was working as a chemist and my father made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I went to work with him and I have not looked back. I’ve now been in the business for 36 years.

What are the challenges that laundromats are facing today?

The biggest challenge is maintaining profitability with the increase in water and sewer rates. Water and sewer costs have become a very expensive utility expense for laundromats. Many water supply and sewer improvements have caused huge capital costs that local towns and counties have passed along to water consumers. Laundromats are one of the biggest consumers of water and are at the mercy of local water municipalities and their water rates. To maintain profitability, laundromats need to keep an extra eye on their expenses and increase vend prices accordingly. 

What major trends are you noticing in the laundromat industry today?

More and more people are going to a cashless society. This month I saw a study come out that said over 50% of transactions are now electronic. The time spent in coin laundromats emptying quarters out of the machines, counting them, and filling bill changers two to three times per week is very non-productive. Until you go to an alternative payment system, you are going to max out at 12-16 stores, because after that you are running around processing quarters all day long. 

What trends do you see for the future?

Laundry card systems are the way of the future. The biggest evolutionary jump is eliminating the quarter. There is a high initial entry price, however, laundromats save money and time in the long run and the operator doesn’t need to physically run the store. With card operated laundromats, there is no limit to the number of laundromats you can operate and you can spend your time focusing on managing your business rather than processing quarters.

What are your thoughts about laundromats using incremental vend pricing with card systems in order to be able to raise a vend price by a few pennies instead of a quarter? 

I like it. I’ve done it with pennies but I actually prefer nickel incremental pricing. Incremental vend pricing is a huge advantage of implementing LaundryCard over FasCard, because you are able to increase your pricing by an amount less than a quarter. When your water rates go up, you can take advantage of incremental vend pricing by increasing the cost of your washers to help you absorb the increase in utility expenses. 

What’s the best way today for a laundromat to increase the value of their laundromat business?

Investing in a card laundromat system. You know exactly up front what the revenue is for the store and operating that card store is much easier. With coin operated stores, you have to be there at least 2-3x per week. With a card store, all you need is a trusted individual to collect the paper receipts because you know your true business numbers and exactly how much is in there. When you’re buying a business, it’s based on profitability. You can increase the value of a laundromat by increasing the multiple at which the store is valued. If your store has laundry equipment with a card system, then you are increasing the multiple because the store is worth more. The more automated and hands free you can make your laundromat, the higher the multiplier of the profit and the higher the value of the store. A card laundromat is an investor rich system whereas a coin laundromat is an owner operated system. 

What advice would you give a new store owner just getting into the laundry business?

I would suggest doing as much research as possible. A laundromat business is capital intensive and you really want to make sure you have the best distributor, equipment and location. You want to partner with a distributor who has been around at least 10-15 years, knows the area, and knows about running a laundromat.

LaundryCard is a holistic laundromat management system that gives owners of multiple stores all the tools they need to succeed. LaundryCard replaces all of the traditional coin mechanisms with networked card readers in a store. Customers get a loyalty card from a kiosk by inserting cash or a credit card and the value added to the loyalty card can then be used to start the customers desired machine. A LaundryCard system is a great choice for owners of more than one location because it has several features that make managing multiple laundromat stores easier and less time consuming.

 cci-no_more_coins No More Coins

With coin based laundromats, you spend a lot of time collecting and processing quarters. Since there are no coins used to start the machines in a LaundryCard store, there is nothing to collect except the cash receipts located in the X-Changer kiosks. LaundryCard saves busy multiple store owners time because they don’t have to empty coin boxes frequently or make several trips to the bank each week. A store that would normally take 2 hours to collect with coins, can now take 5 minutes, giving you time to manage your stores rather than work them.

cci-multi_store_networkingMulti-Store Networking

Multi-Store Networking allows you to distribute your cards anywhere and lets your customers use them in any of your locations. For example if a store owner operates three locations in the same town, customers can purchase a card in Store A and use the card in Store B or Store C as well. The totals report will have an added field to show store owners the dollar amount of card balances that have been transferred in or out.

cci-one_touch_collectionOne Touch Collection

One of the major benefits of having a card system is its ability to reduce the exposure to cash and coins to the public. When collecting from a Laundry Card System, all that is needed is a collectors card. The collector is issued a Collectors card and this card enables the system to track the date, time, and amount of each collection. This allows multiple store owners to spend less time collecting at each location and even allow trusted employees to collect. In a LaundryCard system, every employee has a dedicated card that highlights their responsibilities. You can have a dedicated collector that retrieves the collections from each store.

cci-employee_managementEmployee Management

In a LaundryCard system every employee has a dedicated card that highlights their responsibilities. When a store owner hires a new attendant they are issued an Attendant Card and this card enables them to clock in and out of work, view work schedules, see scheduled duties, and check off when they have completed tasks. These features will help your employees perform their job effectively and manage your stores because when you run multiple stores, you aren’t able to physically be in each one overseeing staff.

cci-remote_managementRemote Management

LaundryCard has been designed to work with any device that has an Internet browser. You can remotely control, view, and configure the system from a smartphone, tablet or PC. Run sales reports, configure specials, change vend prices all from the comfort of your home or office. You are no longer limited by distance when opening new stores because complete remote management is now possible.

With coin operated laundromats, the number of stores you are able to run depends on how much you can physically handle and there are only so many hours in a day. A LaundryCard system helps you automate and grow your business so you aren’t limited to how many stores you can manage and operate. Contact us today to learn more about LaundryCard and how its tools can help your laundromat business!

Bill Norteman has been in the self-service laundry business since the early 2000s. He owns several laundromats in the Chicago area and has implemented CCI’s LaundryCard system in his stores.

What attracted you to the self-service laundromat business?

I began looking closely at the self-service laundry business shortly after September 11th, 2001.  A friend of mine and I were in a precarious position. We’d spent all of our adult lives preparing for a career in the airline industry which began to collapse in the early 2000s. We both loved and wanted to continue in our jobs as long as possible and decided the laundry business would be a good hedge against what, at the time appeared to be the inevitable loss of our jobs and along with it any prospect of re-employment in the same industry. We were fortunate our fears did not come to pass. While many did lose their jobs, we were able to remain employed throughout. These dark days of layoffs and bankruptcies in the airline industry gave us something positive to focus on – growing and expanding our Laundry business.

What is your favorite part of this business?

I really enjoy being in control of my financial destiny. The business will do well if I make good decisions and put the time into it. Of course the opposite is true as well.

What is your least favorite part of this business?

It’s really a double edged sword. I really like the variety of people I meet and work with. This is true of both employees as well as customers. I have a tendency to assume everyone is a good honest person. Sometimes this turns out not to be the case, and because I’m a fairly trusting individual I end up being disappointed on occasion. To be honest, we all run into this in our daily lives, but when I fail to accurately judge someone’s character, it stings a little more when it affects your bottom line.

In your opinion, what is the biggest issue laundromat owners are facing today?

The challenges facing laundromat owners are in some respects similar to those faced by most American small business owners.  

  1. The ever rising cost of goods sold. The price of water has doubled in less than 3 years in our area, and while during that time gas and electricity has remained fairly constant, those commodities have fluctuated as well.
  2. Employees. As minimum wages continue to go up, the problem we have is balancing the need to pay a competitive wage while offering a competitively priced product.
  3. Technology. As with most businesses, technology is constantly changing. Investing in laundry equipment and payment platforms that can keep up with the changes is key.  This is where CCI’s LaundryCard has been a big help. They are always innovating their product and are able to stay on top of security concerns and advances in technology.

What trends are you noticing in the self-service laundry industry, especially in the Chicago area?

I’ve noticed a trend away from small neighborhood laundries. While small stores will always be with us, due to the high cost of building a new laundry, most newer stores are 3,000 sf or larger. The larger stores can offer more products and services to offset these higher upfront costs.

How do you market/advertise your business?

We’ve tried many approaches to marketing over the years and their overall effectiveness has also changed with time. We’ve used yellow pages, newspaper inserts, direct mail, door flyers, signs in public places, ads in holiday community calendars, chamber of commerce welcome packages, radio spots, google, yelp, email campaigns to our web page, etc. The only medium we haven’t tried, that I can think of, is television. We found it to be cost prohibitive. Currently our preferred marketing strategies are email campaigns and online search engines such as Yelp and Google, which we hope take customers to our websites.

Before you had LaundryCard, what had you heard about card systems in Laundromats?

Before investing in LaundryCard, I went to the “Clean Show”, a biennial trade show featuring equipment and products from all the manufacturers and vendors of laundry and dry cleaning equipment. There I was able to see and touch all the available payment systems.

Why did you choose the LaundryCard system over other systems?

In 2005 when I first looked at and compared LaundryCard to other systems, LaundryCard was years ahead in development. It was the most feature filled platform available. While the technology has come a long way in the last 12 years, LaundryCard has only gotten better.  The number of other payment systems has grown, but none can compete with LaundryCard’s features, reports, stable operating platform, support, and cost.  

How have your customers responded to LaundryCard?

Customers really like the system. They love being able to walk into our place without carrying a pocket full of quarters. They like the flexibility of using cash or credit card. Periodically I’ll see a new customer looking a bit puzzled as they are trying to figure out the system. Before an attendant or I can greet them, there’s always an existing customer that will jump in to explain how to get a new LaundryCard. Customers get excited about the system and enjoy teaching and telling others about it.

Did you realize a return on your LaundryCard investment?

Yes. We realized a return on our investment fairly quickly with each store and continue to enjoy the benefits.

How does LaundryCard save you time?

We save time collecting. We don’t have to empty hundreds of coin boxes across our stores each week or spend time cleaning lint out of jammed coin drops.

We save time managing. We can address customer service issues by adjusting a customer’s LaundryCard balance from our computer or any mobile phone. We can evaluate the effectiveness of different promotions and pricing strategies by pulling reports summarizing sales or starts for any time period and analyze how each type / size of equipment is doing. We can remotely monitor the maintenance status of our washers and dryers, sending a technician when needed. We can pull employee hour reports simplifying payroll.

Customers save time as well. With a quick trip to the X-changer to check their balance and/or add value to their card, they can start any and all machines by simply dipping their laundry card into the reader. This is significantly faster than inserting quarters.  This becomes an even greater time savings as vend prices increase with time.

Which LaundryCard features have been most valuable to your business?

I’m a huge fan of the remote access feature. I really like checking in throughout the day to make sure the attendants have shown up on time and to see how sales are doing. As someone who has a full time job, it’s comforting knowing my investment is being taken care of and I can go about my day without worry. When / if there are issues, I can remotely login and fix most customer service problems.

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Do you use incremental vend pricing with LaundryCard? If so, how has being able to raise vend prices by a few pennies instead of a quarter had an impact on your bottom line?

Yes, we usually raise prices in nickel or dime increments. By raising prices consistently but in small increments, we get very little pushback from customers and most don’t even notice. This allows us to keep ahead of utility and other cost increases. Our competition has to raise by an entire quarter which provides us with a competitive advantage.

What advice do you have for laundromat investors thinking about adding a LaundryCard system?

I’m biased. Without LaundryCard I would not be as successful as I am, so I would say it’s a no brainer – just do it. That being said, it’s important to note that what’s right for me on my budget and in my market might not be for everyone. An existing small store with a limited budget may want to consider a FasCard System. This can be added to some but not all machines without affecting coin sales and provide some of the advantages of LaundryCard.

If you are building a new Laundromat or rehabbing an entire store in today’s market, you’d be remiss to not invest in a complete payment system. Look at all the systems out there and ask some questions. Don’t look at just the benefits to customers, just the benefits to owners, just the price tag, or just the company’s support –  look at all these and more. The choice will be clear.

Would you implement LaundryCard in your next store? Why?

Yes. Just last week I purchased a closed laundry and signed a new lease for that space and the space next door. I’m building an entire new laundry in this space, and it will be a LaundryCard store. We just placed the order last week.

What do you feel are the keys to a profitable self-service laundromat business in 2016?

Much the same as any small business, the owner needs to be vigilant and able to adapt to changing market conditions. Failure to analyze trends and customer response to pricing and marketing strategies can be very costly. LaundryCard provides an owner with the tools to closely monitor these trends.

What do you wish you had known when you were first getting into the laundromat business?

The list is endless. It has been an exciting journey filled with many learning opportunities. The whole process of becoming a business owner / operator has been very satisfying for me personally.  

What are your top business goals for the rest of 2016 and into 2017?

As I begin construction on my 4th Laundromat later this month, I hope to incorporate many of the ideas and features I have learned are very popular with customers. My goal is to divide my attention between getting the new Laundry up and off to a successful start while maintaining the level of customer service we’ve attained at our existing stores. Incorporating technology such as CCI’s LaundryCard is indispensable when running multiple locations.