Commercial laundry facilities are a fact of life in apartment buildings and college campuses around the world. Until recently, managing such laundry facilities has been rather straightforward for building managers and college administrators: Approximate how many machines are needed, collect the quarters when the coin boxes get full, and fix the machines when they break. Residents and students are mostly satisfied if machines are available when they need them, machines don’t eat quarters or socks, and magazines left by previous customers aren’t too crumpled or dated.
Coin-operated laundries, a $5 billion-a-year industry,1 are changing rapidly thanks in large part to the advance of digital technology. Consider WASH Multifamily Laundry Systems, an El Segundo, California-based laundry facilities management service provider that processes 1.7 billion quarters a year for 75,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada.2 Its extensive network of hundreds of thousands of interconnected washer, dryers, vending machines, and payment systems serves roughly 7 million residents.3 These devices generate more than a stream of quarters — they generate a continuous stream of data that is being used to create several distinct types of business value for WASH, its customers, and its suppliers.
Working closely with manufacturers, WASH uses machine data to anticipate maintenance before downtime occurs. Working with payment processors, WASH Laundry provides launderers with an array of payment, coupon, and loyalty programs. And the possibilities aren’t restricted to improving operations. Working with apartment-building owners, WASH uses data from its large device network to model and test managerial intuition about questions such as whether it is cost-effective to switch from cash to payment cards before committing to widespread changes. What’s more, alternative pricing options become possible with device data: Colleges are working with WASH to adjust pricing at peak periods to spread demand, reduce congestion, and improve student experience.
These new possibilities enable different and deeper relationships with WASH’s ecosystem of suppliers and customers.