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Multi-profit Centers

Coin carwash, meet coin laundry

October 11, 2010
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If you’re looking to wring out a few more dollars from your carwash property, look no further than the spin cycle. Adding a Laundromat to your carwash business is an easy way to attract a wider customer base, spread out costs for the property and increase your average ticket revenue.

Indeed, the synergy between these two profit centers is obvious, but the real key to folding up a neat and tidy profit may be new technologies which are making these businesses as simple as a credit card swipe.

The benefits
According to Mike Irwin, owner of Rocky Mountain Wash, LLC, a chain of carwashes in a chain of carwashes throughout Wyoming, the primary advantages to operating a carwash and coin laundry together concern your customer base, as well as your shared expenses.

“Once [the customers] are on your lot to do laundry, they will wash their car and wait for their clothes to be finished,” explained Irwin. He also pointed out that your land, labor, parking, utility hook-ups and advertising expenses will now be shared between the two businesses, alleviating the pressure on the weather-dependent carwash.

Irwin added a Laundromat to one of his older carwash locations in 2002 in order to take advantage of some extra space and an empty building. “It would not work financially if we had to acquire the land and the building,” he said, suggesting operators consider available space on their existing property before trying to combine these two businesses.

Irwin said he couldn’t pinpoint the exact percentage of cross-over customers at his facility, but he believes the Laundromat gives him a competitive edge.

“I believe people will come to us over other single-use facilities if they can conveniently complete two tasks at the same place,” he explained.

Customers aren’t the only people to utilize both businesses; Irwin explained that his staff are also cross-trained to clean, service and manage customers at both the coin laundry and the carwash. Rocky Mountain Wash is staffed full-time, seven days per week, he said.

Going plastic
If you’re ready to take the next step, you’ll want to research a revolutionary idea: Taking the “coin” out of your new coin laundry. According to Ryan Carlson, director of marketing for WashCard Systems, the next equipment evolution in the carwash and coin laundry businesses is cashless payment technologies.

“The research done in the carwash industry is both extensive and conclusive that self-service businesses that offer multiple payment options far out perform those that only accept a single form of payment,” Carlson explained, adding that the coin laundry business mimics this trend. “Cashless systems that create more options for a consumer will win out every time over a cashless system that limits consumers’ options in how they can spend their money,” he continued.

According to research conducted by WashCard Systems, about 30 percent of consumers will only use cash (or coin) to wash their laundry. Meanwhile, over 60 percent will go out of their way to use a credit card. “Cashless is a necessity since our society is trending towards that direction at an exponential rate,” Carlson said. “We are a society of card-carrying citizens and those businesses that fail to follow that trend will become less relevant in the consumers’ eyes every year.

A secure facility
Although Carlson suggested most operations will want to accept as many forms of payment as possible, including cash, coin and plastic, there is one segment that will benefit from an entirely cashless business: High-risk locations. If keeping cash is a security risk, Carlson recommended going entirely plastic.

For cashless stores, the trick is to properly market and educate your customer base, Carlson said. “Fully card-based stores are not all doom and gloom,” he explained. Instead, Carlson continued, these sites must create incentive programs, marketing plans, and build promotions around their stored value cards that “compel customers to spend more, and perhaps wash that additional load of laundry.”

“It takes hard work and dedication to educate customers and the understanding that going completely cashless means you will not be all things to all customers,” Carlson continued. “A fully cashless store will play the numbers game that follows consumer spending research that clearly shows customers that do not pay with cash will spend more per visit. So cashless payment has a lot of advantages to the cashless consumer. A properly run cashless store will be successful as long as the focus is on improving the customer experience.”

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