Pay Range

There are options now that allow customers to use their phones to make payments versus using cash or coins.

Editor’s note: Steve White is the SMB sales manager for PayRange, a company focused on providing contactless payment solutions. 

Guest laundry is supported by offering washers and dryers in a shared or common laundry room. Until recently, this meant the machines were coin-operated and needed periodic collection of quarters from the machines, but dealing with quarters can be a hassle, for you and your guests.

While credit card systems for laundry machines have been around for decades, they usually cost several hundred dollars per machine, require a constant data connection for processing and come with very high transaction fees. But, advancements in technology have made new mobile payments technologies much more affordable; plus, the COVID-19 pandemic has skyrocketed demand for cashless options. For these reasons and more, now is a good time to take a fresh look at how your guests pay for laundry.

Shifting consumer preference and habits around payments

Consumers, in general, prefer to make cashless payments, with cash payments accounting for only about 12% of all point of sale payments in North America in 2021. Ask yourself this, when was the last time you handed someone cash in person for a product or service or used coins for a purchase? Even traditional credit card payments are becoming rarer, being replaced by alternate payment technologies. Consider this, the first coin-operated washing machine was patented in 1957. This was before credit cards had been invented and the economy functioned almost entirely with cash. When coin-operated machines first appeared, coins were plentiful, and using them for payment was convenient.

Coins are now viewed by most as highly inconvenient, not to mention dirty and unhygienic. Quarters are now the antiquated approach.

The COVID-19 pandemic worked like an accelerant for cashless mobile payments, advancing user adoption by years. According to a MasterCard poll released in April 2020, 51% of Americans have used some form of contactless payment, with around 80% of transactions being for less than $25 — a sector previously dominated by cash. Avoiding contact with frequently touched surfaces meant consumers were more willing to take the time to learn how to make payments without having to touch a pin pad or hand cash over to a cashier. And once these habits were established, the convenience of these methods quickly created a preference for them. A preference that applies to shared laundry spaces as well.

Convenience drives consumer habits

Steve White

Steve White

Providing on-site laundry is convenient to your guests. Even though some RVs have washers and dryers on board, most guests aren’t bringing their own laundry machines. So, having on-site laundry makes properties more desirable.  That may be your sole goal as to why you provide vended laundry, to simply make your property easier to rent, with the costs of use enough to cover the utility fees. But convenience is something consumers pay a premium for — so, you may very well be forgoing profit by not pricing in a profit for yourself with your guest laundry.

However, you don’t want to price the convenience of on-site laundry so high that your tenants leave your property for the local laundromat, leaving your investment in equipment underutilized. Additionally, there can also be a psychological barrier to pricing that’s denominated in 25 cent increments. There is definitely a difference in perception between $2.50 and $2.75 for a wash, but there’s also the cumulative total to consider as well. If your guests are getting $10 rolls of quarters, pricing the combination of wash and dry above $5 would require them to have more than one roll of quarters for two loads of laundry. Few things are more frustrating for a person than being a couple of quarters short of being able to start a dryer late at night and being left with a load of wet clothes. As a property owner or camp host, you don’t want to receive those complaints either. With mobile payments, pricing can be increased or decreased by any amount at any time.

Mobile payments offer the solution

Mobile payment is the fastest and most cost-effective way to add cashless and contactless payment to your existing laundry machines. You can maintain the convenience of on-site laundry and save yourself and your guests the hassle of having to deal with coins by upgrading to mobile payment acceptance. Upgrading today is DIY easy and takes just minutes. You simply install a small hardware device into each machine using a provided wiring harness specific to your make and model of washer or dryer. Then you’ll register the device to an account with the company to receive payment, configure pricing, apply a few decals and it’s ready to go. Guests then download the payment app onto their smartphone and then can securely make payment using their own trusted phone.

Compared to other technologies, costs for mobile payment acceptance start at $20 per machine, with per-transaction fees of about half the average for credit cards. Plus, there are no monthly fees, and no requirement to connect the hardware to the internet – the guest’s smartphone provides the data connection when they make payment. And for those guests who may not have a smartphone, the coin acceptors on your washers and dryers will still work alongside mobile payments.

While laundry services are often viewed as an amenity that’s a necessity, the same mobile payment technology can be applied to vending machines, metered showers, tennis court or pickleball court lights, arcade games, anything that currently accepts coins for payment. By avoiding expensive hardware costs and the necessity to have a data connection on each machine for payment processing, you can accept more payment options while eliminating the need for quarters.

It’s about offering more convenience, and in turn, your revenues along with your guest’s satisfaction will increase.