How To Choose a Laundromat Payment System
This is the single most conversed topic, within laundromat owners. Especially for those new to the industry. In this day and time, you want to stay ahead of the curve but also need to keep existing customers. Deciding which laundromat payment system is right for you as an owner/operator is a decision that you will need to make. But more importantly, deciding which payment solution is going to be the most attractive to your customer base and allow for the most turns on your equipment.
The great news is that while you have three distinct options in technology (coin, card, or app), you do not necessarily need to choose one over the other. You now also have options that allow you to take multiple payment methods, and give your customers the flexibility to choose the payment option that works best for them.
You Can Have Both
You can have both coin and card options, or coin and app-based options. There is even a card/tag/app option available right now. So, how do you decide which solution is right for you?
So How Do I Decide?
First and foremost, understand the available functions of each and how they interact with your customer base, your demographic, store management, and ownership operations. Second, understand the cost of the options that interest you and how that cost is figured into the operation of your store and the overall Return On Investment.
There are so many combinations and factors to review and chose from. We highly recommend relying on a trusted source for information and support (give LES a call or email us at any time). Your local equipment and ancillary distributor, like LES, is there to provide you with help and support along the way.
Once you decide on a payment solution, you will work closely with that payment system’s support team. After all, what good is technology without the support to be able to make it run as desired? They will also be there to help you maintain the system’s functionality so that it continues to run well six months, a year, five years or more down the road.
Coin/ Vend Laundromat Payment System.
The coin/vend laundromat payment system is the original. For many, many years laundromats have operated based on coin/quarters. It’s a very simple system, your customers take their dollar bills, go to a bill changer, and exchanges dollars for quarters. The customers then take those quarters and drop them within the coin drop on the machine. They see the price count down with each drop, and once the price has been fulfilled, the machine is ready to start. They start the machine and they are off to the races.
As an owner, you take the quarters from the coin box on each machine and collect them into a bucket. You then go to the bill change machines and recycle the money, take the dollar bills out, and replace with quarters into the hoppers of the machine.
In terms of collection and accounting, you have the physical dollars to account for and you can then verify through various counting control options within the changers that will match up bills or quarters dispensed.
Card Laundromat Payment System
When offering a card laundromat payment system you basically have two options. You can have a kiosk on the wall which allows customers to insert dollar bills or swipe their credit card. They can get or add money to a store loyalty card, and use that card to start the washers/dryers.
Option two for a card laundromat payment system is to have a wireless reader mounted directly to the machines. Customers swipe their credit card directly at the machine to start it. You, in turn, accept payment from your credit card company on an individual basis. This system allows you to utilize both coin and card options on the same machine, and it doesn’t require the added expense of purchasing cards.
App-Based Payment System
Within the past few years, app-based payment systems have begun to make huge strides within our industry. By using this option, you can have a system with either a kiosk to direct payment, to an account on the cloud. Or, you are able to download an app like iTunes, etc. that allows you to make payments from your smartphone. These systems allow you to start machines either from the kiosks or from smartphones.
As previously mentioned, with the latest technology upgrades and computer systems, you can have multiple payment options for your customers. Your store can collect quarters while accepting credit cards. And also accept credit cards while having a mobile-based app payment system. You can literally offer and accept every payment solution possible.
So How Do You Chose?
Know Your Demographics
Historically people are used to using quarters and cash for services like laundromats and car washes. But times have changed and demographics (The CLA offers this service) have shifted. Nowadays the majority of our population carries money either on their bank cards or prefers to use credit cards. There is still truly a time and place for all options.
As you may know, the vast majority of Americans have smartphones and keep their faces glued to them. So naturally, they are very comfortable transacting business and personal accounts through this technology. Keep in mind, the amount of people buying items from cloud accounts is growing daily. Look no further than Amazon as an example. At this moment in time, you need to have options because it’s a time of transition. We aren’t saying that you need all the options, but at least give your customers some options.
You will want to take a good hard look at your demographics, and learn how your customers are making purchases based on their age, and ethnicity. By doing this you’ll be able to make informed decisions about which options are best suited for your customers.
Just like building your new laundromat or retrofitting your existing laundromat, you are doing so for a reason. You are building a better mousetrap and competing with your local competition. Therefore offering more and different options will make your location more desirable and elevate customer retention.
This is where the cost and your budget comes into effect. Of course, the most basic options, coin, is typically the cheapest but does not offer much in way of options. As with all technology, the pricing has come down over time. And spread across the entirety of your store’s operation, the return on investment is very much realized. For instance, simple app-based payment options added to your already coin store is quite affordable and very simply installed and maintained.
So know your budget, and get pricing on the different options.
Consider Other Perks
You’ll want to also consider the management of revenue from the back end, and the marketing capability it offers you as the store owner.
In terms of accounting and control, the card and app payment solutions tie into the controls of your washers and dryers. This gives you, through either kiosk or an off-site computer, the ability to account by the day, moment, week, quarter, etc. Some of the data you can use are individual machines, the capacity of machines, type of payments, and so on. The data is endless and it’s very powerful when making decisions on pricing and marketing.
Offering specials, time of day, and day of week pricing on equipment cycles. Accruing customer contact information for direct marketing by email and address or even text messages are just a few of the perks.
Contact Your Local Distributor
Contact your local distributor for further clarification and support in making your decisions. After all, they do this stuff every day and can get you pricing, contact information, and give you guidance that you need to make the best decision for your laundromat.