Quarters or Cards: Laundromat Payment Systems
Which laundromat payment system is best for your laundromat? Learn the pros and cons of the laundromat payment systems.
Managing a laundromat comes with its own unique challenges, one of which is collecting and processing laundromat payments via coins. Especially with most established laundromats using traditional machines equipped with solely coin-based methods of payment, the question of whether the return of upgrading to machines with card-based or hybrid methods of payment is sizable enough to match and exceed the initial investment arises.
As more modern laundromats make the transition from coin to card laundromat payment systems, we decided to take a look at the decision for new laundromat owners. Below we examine the pros and cons of laundromat payment systems to guide your decision of which of the laundromat payment systems is best for your laundromat.
The first question you should be asking yourself when it comes to upgrading laundromat machine payment systems is who your target customer base is and what they prefer. If you are in an urban area servicing young professionals who prefer card or digital payments over cash any day, it might make sense to invest in machines with card-based payment systems, or even a mixture of both.
Conversely, if you are in an area with a primary audience skewed on the older age brackets, keeping it simple with coin-based machines might be best for your customers and your business’s bottom line. Always keep the question of who your target audience is top of mind.
While most price-sensitive markets prefer coins, the less price-sensitive markets prefer card. With card-based laundromat payment systems, the card processor does take a fee from the laundromat owner. This means you will likely want to increase your prices to pass this cost along to the customer for the convenience of not ligging quarters around with them to the laundromat.
When considering laundromat payment systems, the size and cost of the machines should be considered. If you have an 80lb washer that costs $9, you are forcing your customers to source and transport 36 quarters just to start the washer. On the other hand, if all of your machines are $2 20lb washers, sourcing and transporting the quarters is not as big of a chore for your customer.
Larger washers in stores that are priced higher tend to favor card payments while smaller stores that have smaller machines tend to favor quarters.
Coins have been used since the inception of laundromats in the 1930s, which is why most laundromat customers are used to it. The traditional coin-operated laundromat allows for self-service machines to be operated without the need for an attendant standing by. On the other hand, an upgraded card-based system would do best with an on-call attendant for any issues that may arise during the payment process.
It is also cheaper to use a coin-based system as no machine upgrades would have to be made, nor any debit or credit card processing fees due. However, you will be paying a staff member to empty quarter boxes and refill the bill changer regularly.
Without the need to deposit coins for money and speedy transactional bookkeeping, time will be saved which may help to lower staffing expenses. Additionally, card systems are more secure rather than physical monetary units like quarters, so the risk of theft would also be heavily reduced.
The downsides associated with card-based payment systems include the need for advertising materials to promote and instruct customers who are unaware of how to operate a card-based system. This may call for an attendant to be available on-premise which may partially negate the lowered staffing expenses from convenient and speedy depositing and bookkeeping.
Not only will there be an additional fixed cost of purchasing modern laundromat machines with updated payment processing systems, but a debit and credit card processing fee will also be applied, which may render a card-based processing system unfeasible for young, growing businesses. If your laundromat has seasonal fluctuations in the number of customers, this could prove to be a problem as you may not see a sizable return on investment immediately.
As more modern laundromats make the transition from coin to card laundromat payment systems, we expect the industry to keep innovating. In fact, Master Card just announced that the magnetic stripe is reaching its expiration date. Mastercard will become the first payments network to phase it out.
The shift away from the magnetic stripe points to both consumers changing habits for payments and the development of newer technologies.
While this will leave swipe-based laundromat payment systems needing an upgrade, these changes are to be expected. We know we’re moving away from quarters but are unsure what technology will bring in the future when it comes to more advanced laundromat payment systems.