As economic uncertainty looms, customer experience is going to be an important differentiator from one laundromat to the next. A major component of meeting customer expectations is payment options - the different ways you allow customers to pay. Consumers want payment flexibility, and these days, people can pay with a wave of their palm. As you can imagine, that means fewer and fewer folks are willing to go digging for change to pay for their laundry. Luckily, you have a wealth of laundry payment options; you just have to figure out which ones are best for your laundry business model and target customers. Adding more modern options won’t just make your customers’ lives easier, but will also put you in the best position to maximize your profitable revenue.
This isn’t an argument to do away with decades of tradition brought by coin-operated laundry machines. Rather, it’s a call to bring your laundromat into the future, where your customers live. In this blog, we’ll take a look at the different payment types laundromat owners can potentially offer and give insights into how owners can determine which payments will best serve their customers, giving owners like you the greatest return.
Coin-operated laundromats still rule
The Coin Laundry Association reports that 54% of laundromats only offer quarter-operated laundry machines. Despite the increasingly digital retail and services industries, there’s still a certain familiarity that walks alongside coin-operated laundry facilities. Suffice to say, coin has its pros and cons:
Pros of coin-operated payment systems:
Low installation costs: coin-operated machines are generally cheaper to install.
Universal access: not everyone has access to banking. But everyone has access to coins, making it a universally accepted payment form.
Reliability: historically, coin-operated laundromats have shown a high degree of reliability in the area of payments. Few other industries have allowed it to keep its footing as a mainstay!
Consistent cash flow: coin payments can still provide a steady income, as evidenced by some laundromat owners who net significant monthly profits.
Cons of coin-operated payment systems:
Security concerns: coin-operated machines can be targets for theft or vandalism.
Maintenance: coins can jam machines, leading to maintenance issues and machine downtime.
Lack of digital advantages: coin-operated laundromats may miss out on the perks offered by digital payment systems, such as customer loyalty programs or customers who aren’t open to carrying coins.
The pros of coin operated machines suggest there’s a balance to strike here. The best portfolio of laundromat payment options is a diverse one. Some of your customers are still fond of the more traditional payment option, while others will stake their laundromat loyalty on one that lets them forgo the quarters.
Enter the era of the credit and debit card readers
New technology in the last few years allows your laundromat to accept credit and debit cards for laundry payments. This can include kiosk systems and in-machine card readers. More recently, there are some readers that accept payment as swipe, EMV chip, and even just tap.
Understanding credit and debit card systems
Credit and debit card payments in laundromats have become a game-changer. Laundromats that can support multiple payment options, including credit/debit cards, loyalty cards, and mobile payments will naturally pull ahead. This not only caters to the evolving preferences of customers but also enhances the overall user experience by providing convenience and efficiency.
Types of card readers include:
Basic magnetic stripe readers: these process cards with magnetic stripes, although they're becoming less common due to security concerns.
Chip card readers: process cards with EMV chips, offering enhanced security.
Contactless card readers: these allow for tap-and-go payments using NFC technology.
Multi-functional readers: these can process credit and debit cards, loyalty cards, and even digital wallets.
Benefits of accepting cards in your laundromat
Integrating card payment systems in laundromats provides several advantages:
Convenience: cards are a widely preferred form of payment, offering users a hassle-free experience.
Enhanced security: card payments are often more secure than cash transactions, especially with EMV chip technology.
Real-time transaction records: card transactions provide real-time records, assisting in accounting and business analysis.
Quick fund availability: funds from card transactions are typically available more swiftly than checks or some other forms of payment.
Are card payments right for your laundromat?
The best way to determine whether or not you should provide customers with the option to pay with a credit or debit card is to think about one thing: your customers.
How are they paying for goods and services in other areas of their lives?
How do they pay for most necessities?
How do they pay for groceries and home goods at stores?
Importance of technology
Embracing the latest payment technologies ensures businesses remain competitive and cater to evolving customer preferences. As the world becomes more digitized, customers expect modern solutions that offer speed, security, and convenience. Integrating advanced systems like Cents Connect can meet those evolving customer needs while also providing further insights into customer behavior, streamlining operations, and enhancing the user experience.
Creating a captive audience with laundromat card payment systems
Laundromat card payment systems are modern alternatives to traditional coin-operated laundromats. Instead of requiring coins, these systems allow customers to pay for laundry services using credit or debit cards. The technology behind these systems often includes card readers attached to washing machines and dryers. Customers can swipe or insert their cards, and the appropriate amount is deducted from their bank accounts. Some advanced systems even allow for mobile payments, further streamlining the process.
Laundry card systems can operate in a variety of ways:
Cards refilled by mobile device
Cards refilled on a kiosk
Using a card-swipe, laundry card systems allow customers to pay at the machine. It can provide customers with a secure way to pay while also giving owners and operators real-time information about their balances.
Benefits of using laundromat card payment system
Customer loyalty: offering card payments can improve customer retention, as the convenience of card payments can entice patrons to return to your establishment over a coin-operated competitor. Features such as loyalty points or rewards for frequent use can be easily integrated with card systems, enhancing customer loyalty.
Ease of operation: operators can monitor transactions remotely, allowing for easy tracking and reduced need for onsite supervision. Additionally, the hassle of collecting, counting, and depositing coins is eliminated, streamlining the operational aspects of the laundromat business.
Mobile app and virtual wallet
Like credit and debit cards, smartphones are everywhere and most have the ability to contain a “virtual wallet” where they simply tap the reader with their phone and pay for laundry. There are also products on the market that allow customers to use technology where they pay for their laundry with a specific application. Similar to how Starbucks leverages a mobile wallet, you can do the same in your laundromat.
Mobile app payments for laundromats have very similar advantages to credit or debit cards like being able to see the transaction report instantly and immediate availability of the funds. Before investing in these types of readers, you’ll have to analyze the benefits it poses to your customer demographic and how often they utilize these types of payment methods for other goods and services.
How to choose the right payment options for your laundromat
The laundromat industry finds itself at the crossroads of tradition and modernity. The rise of cashless transactions challenged the old days, promising a new level of convenience and efficiency.
Your laundromat is unique and so are your customers, which means you need the right mix of laundromat payment options. Here are some of the considerations to ponder:
Consider your customer demographics
Analyze the age, tech-savviness, and economic status of your typical clientele. Younger customers might prefer digital payments, while older individuals could lean towards traditional coin-operated systems.
Why customer preferences matter
An intimate understanding of customer preferences is essential. Offering a payment method aligned with their comfort can bolster customer loyalty, leading to repeat business and promoting positive word-of-mouth.
Evaluate cost and ROI
Before implementing a new payment system, assess the initial investment and ongoing operational costs. Some systems, due to their low operational costs, can offer an immediate return on investment (ROI).
Investment and potential returns
Traditional coin-operated systems might have lower upfront costs. However, digital payment systems can drive long-term growth, providing additional benefits like customer data analytics and loyalty programs, which can lead to increased revenue over time.
Tools to improve business operations
Many of our customers have found success in offering dynamic payment solutions to support different segments of laundromat customers, and as an owner, yourself, you need to do what is best for your customers. At Cents, we give you the tools you need so you can run your laundromat business how you need to.
No matter which payment method you choose to provide, whether that be only coin or every option we listed, Cents can support your business. Our laundry business management software integrates with our Cents Connect payment systems, making it the first true all-in-one platform.