Blog: Automated Dispensing in Laundromats: Putting A New Spin on the Industry

Clean clothes are a necessity of healthy living, and many people rely on coin laundromats to complete the never-ending task of laundry. In an industry that has spanned at least 70 years, coin laundries have been able to survive periods of growth and recession. As home ownership declines and urbanization increases globally, self-service laundry markets expand. In areas that are heavily populated, there is a greater need for new and reimagined laundromats.

So, how can laundromats continue to evolve to deliver a better, streamlined experience for tomorrow’s consumers? Which advancements are worth investing in to capture more market share? Read on to learn how these businesses are changing and how installing automatic chemical dispensing can positively impact laundromats.

The State of the Industry

Today, there are close to 29,500 coin laundries in the United States alone, an industry that’s generating nearly $5 billion in gross revenue annually. Coin operated laundry facilities can be found virtually anywhere across the nation, but the stores that appear to perform best are located in predominantly renter-occupied and densely populated areas. Studies on urbanization project that two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050, so it is anticipated that laundromats will only continue growing in popularity.

Outside of population trends, laundromats are attractive for multiple other reasons. For one, laundry equipment is bulky and most people living in cities either don’t have in-unit washers and dryers or don’t want to install them due to costs and lack of space. Laundromats also offer larger (>50 pounds) and more energy-efficient equipment that enables consumers to wash many day’s worth of laundry in a fraction of the time. Finally, changing demographics and consumer sentiment suggest that many are opting for automating or outsourcing tedious household chores, leading to increased interest in alternative methods to complete laundry, such as wash-and-fold services.

Some laundromats are even undergoing technological and design changes, such as transitioning to touchless pay and adding Wi-Fi and cafes. These sites are investing to modernize the business and make the laundromat an attractive space that consumers want to visit.

One additional aspect that can also evolve is the way in which laundries approach chemicals. Chemicals, along with temperature, mechanical action and time, are fundamental factors to get clean linen in any setting. In the laundromat, the prevailing model has been for customers to bring their own detergent with them or purchase it from a vending machine on-site. Then, they have to manually dose these products. The model is not convenient for consumers (who can easily forget to pack detergent) and it does not offer much in the way of selection in terms of chemical types (e.g. bleach, softener, and detergents) or fragrances. Thankfully, there is a better solution.

The Role of Chemical Dispensers

Laundromat owners want to drive exceptional cleaning results and minimize costly downtime. Investing in easy-to-use and reliable equipment that supports these goals and drives customer satisfaction is key. Chemical dispensers are a smart solution to some of the issues that both laundromat owners and customers face.

This is because dispensers:

  • Are accurate and reliable. Owners can trust that the products will be dosed properly and thereby help to reduce the need to rewash garments. This helps drive repeat business and customer satisfaction.
  • Remove a burden for customers. Customers don’t need to bring their own products if laundromats are equipped with dispensers. By providing the chemistry, some laundromats may be able to implement a surcharge tied to this convenience.
  • Handle multiple chemical formulas to adjust for different consumer preferences or stains. Dispensers can accurately dose up to 10 chemical products across hundreds of different formulas to create truly unique blends that fight particular stains or have a particular fragrance.
  • Can be hooked up to numerous washers. This enables owners to invest in just a few dispensers to cover all of their washers.

The Benefits of Automated Dispensing

Yet another pain point for laundromat owners is the lack of visibility of their operations when they are off site. Some oversee numerous laundromats, making it even more complicated to manage the businesses and make critical decisions. 

Fortunately, there are now dispensing systems and washers/dryers that leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) to provide additional improvements in laundromats. These offer their own unique advantages, such as:

  • Enabling remote access. It can be difficult to keep track of multiple laundromat sites, but connected dispensers make it easy for owners to see what is happening, even when they are off site.  These smart dispensers also allow for configuration changes from anywhere that has an internet connection and can alert owners to abnormal conditions.
  • Driving cost savings. By providing data around water, chemical and energy usage, cycle times and more through an easy-to-access platform, connected dispensers give owners increased visibility into their operations and spend. Information tied to washer utilization can also help owners determine whether all equipment is being regularly utilized, which can inform future equipment purchases, optimization of the current footprint and expansion plans.
  • Driving continuous improvement. Owners can access recommendations through the IoT platform to improve operational efficiency and profitability. By fine-tuning the laundry process, owners can also enhance customer satisfaction to drive repeat business and positive word of mouth.
  • Enhancing sustainability. A 2019 report found that 55% of laundromats rank energy savings and conservation as very important. Connected dispensers provide insight into environmental footprint and can help owners commit to sustainability improvements, such as washing with cold water or scaling water and chemistry based on the weight of the load.

The Future of Laundromats

Laundromats are an essential part of everyday life for an increasing number of people around the world. They mean more than just providing clean clothes to customers. In large part, they are a billion-dollar industry that has an impact on the planet. By introducing connected chemical dispensers, business owners can have a clearer understanding of their spend and environmental impact, and drive continuous improvements to deliver a better customer experience and reduce downtime that impacts the bottom line. 

For more information on connected chemical dispensers, look into the Multi-Washer 3000 Series with EvoClean.

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