This comes from Alliance Laundry System’s Wash and Learn series. It is a great way to check profitability in your coin laundry.
Cost per Cycle – Front Load Washer and Top Load Washer
To be profitable in the vended laundry business you need to understand some basic premises. One of the biggest is knowing your costs. The coin laundry business is basically selling utilities to your customers. The cost of those utilities have a direct impact on your vend prices and your profitability. Two of the most popular machines in laundries today are the traditional top load washer @12 lb capacity, and the small front load washer @18 lb capacity. Though similar in size, there is a big difference in their cost to operate from a utility perspective.
The top load washer has traditionally been the lowest vend priced machine in the store, but uses the most water per pound of clothes washed. To properly determine your cost to operate you need to know some basic numbers.
- Gallons of water per cycle – top load washers have been using between 26-32 gallons of water per cycle over the past 10 years. Newer models are in the 21 gallon per cycle range.
- Cost of water per gallon (water and sewer) – The water bill you receive breaks down your usage in CCF or hundred cubic feet. There are 7.48 gallons in 1 cubic foot of water.
- Electric consumption– top load washers use fractional horsepower motors consuming a small amount of electricity, around .084 KW per cycle.
- Cost of gas to heat hot water – hot water will need to be generated on some cycles. Almost 40% of cycles use cold water only.
Using national averages, we can calculate our cost for utilities on a newer top loader.
21 gallons @ $.016 per cu. ft. water = $.002 per gallon= $.04
$.018 per cu. ft. sewer= $.0024 per gallon= $.05
$.084 per KW electricity = $.084
$.816 per therm. (100,000btu) = $.03
Total $.20 per cycle
Using this example a top load cycle costs $.20. Added to this amount would be your stores percentage of overhead per square foot per machine. Overhead includes rent, CAM, insurance, lighting, heating and cooling, and other costs such as labor and note payment if any.
The national average for top load vend pricing is $2.00
The front load washer cost is calculated the same way. Current designs us 11.9 gallons of water per cycle. Using the same utility rates from the previous example, a small front load washer’s utility cost would be $.11 per cycle. That is almost half the cost to operate a top loader. The front load washer is more utility efficient because it uses less water per cycle, and less electricity because of its inverter drive technology.
The national average for a small front load washer is also $2.00
As a marketing strategy, if your store has both top loaders and small front load machines, pricing the top load at a higher vend will encourage customers to use the more efficient front loader. Your customer can wash more for less money, costing you less in utilities.