The introduction of smart cards into central laundry facilities 20 years ago was an innovative alternative to cash, reducing theft and vandalism while eliminating the need for residents to collect coins. A lot has changed in 20 years, including the needs and expectations of Canadian condominium residents. Having to load money onto a separate card is now considered inconvenient, and if their card is lost or stolen so is their laundry budget. For condominium corporations, the installation of card reload stations and phone lines is tedious and can be costly as it involves partnering with a third-party telecom provider. Not surprisingly, smart card technology is going the way of the dinosaur.
Mobile payment is connecting vended laundry to the future as more Canadians not only prefer but expect the ability to pay with their mobile devices. More than half of smart phone owners are interested in paying with their mobile devices, so they no longer need to carry cards or cash1. Revenue from mobile apps has more than doubled over the past four years and is expected to double yet again by 2023, reflecting that consumers are becoming more attached to their mobile devices and more comfortable making in-app purchases2.
A mobile payment strategy can improve the competitiveness of your laundry facility, reduce utility usage and increase revenue while providing a more convenient and engaging laundry experience for residents.
How Does Mobile Payment Work?
The mobile payment app uses Bluetooth technology to wirelessly exchange information with the washers and dryers in the central laundry room, giving residents a simpler and easier experience. Residents download the free app onto their mobile phone or tablet and can select a machine by either scanning a QR code or choosing a machine number in the app. It's so intuitive, even the least technologically inclined residents can learn to use it with ease. No data plan is required if there is Wi-Fi in the building.
Residents can do laundry on their schedule by remotely viewing the availability of the machines, seeing how much time is left on a cycle, and being notified via a text message when laundry is done. They can add value to their accounts or request refunds in a simple process. They can also check their transactions and account balances anytime to make sure their laundry budget is on track. Direct contact and help are available right within the app if they have any questions or issues. Mobile payment essentially takes the stress out of laundry day.
What if some residents don't have a smart phone, aren't comfortable with making mobile payments or simply prefer to use coin? Unlike smart card technology, you can offer mobile and coin options together since laundry machines can be outfitted with both. Over time you can persuade apprehensive residents through in-app features to adopt the more cost-effective mobile payment option and phase out coin.
Lift in Laundry Revenue
The shift to mobile enables instant offers, loyalty perks and opportunities to engage with residents in a whole new way. You can boost revenue by encouraging them to do smaller loads more often or adjust the day/time they do their laundry by providing dynamic pricing or special offers. This can help align with utility pricing and balance usage, stopping people from leaving the building to visit local laundromats during peak periods.
At our company, we leverage the mobile app to create a positive onboarding experience when first installing our equipment in a central laundry facility. Residents who download the app automatically receive a credit for a free laundry cycle, encouraging them to try the app and the new equipment. This makes the transition a very positive experience.
Enabling Condominium Corporations to Take Back Control
Mobile payment is turning the traditional "route laundry operator" business on its head by making it much easier for condominium corporations to purchase their own equipment and manage laundry revenue without the help of a service provider. There's no coin to collect or process, payments are connected directly to your bank account, and the technology provides an easy-to-use interface with real-time reporting, so you always know exactly what's happening with your laundry revenue. You can even provide refunds or electronic coupons to say “thanks!” in seconds through the click of a mouse.
If you choose to own your laundry equipment, a laundry services provider can be a valuable partner by:
- Consulting on your facility’s design, functionality and equipment,
- Helping to determine your pricing and marketing strategy,
- Facilitating the purchase and installation of the washers, dryers and mobile Bluetooth technology, and
- Fulfilling equipment warranty and ongoing servicing.
Mobile payment is a trend that will continue to grow long into the future. If your condominium has a central laundry facility, stay ahead of the curve by partnering with an innovative vended laundry professional who can help you implement a mobile payment solution to ensure your facility remains competitive and provides the best possible experience for residents.
Jeff Gilpin is the President of River Rock Laundry, a proudly Canadian provider of vended laundry equipment and service to the multi-residential housing industry in Ontario. Prior to founding River Rock in 2018, Jeff spent the previous two decades in various business development and operations roles within the industry, where he honed his consultation skills to help owners and managers of condominiums, apartments, co-operatives, non-profit housing and educational institutions provide superior experiences for their residents.
1. Google Inc. consumer insights division Think With Google, 2017
2. Statista, Total global mobile app revenues in 2014 to 2023, 2019 (www.statista.com/statistics/269025/worldwide-mobile-app-revenue-forecast/)