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Top load versus small front load washers. What's the best option?

  • 1.  Top load versus small front load washers. What's the best option?

    Posted 7 days ago
    .    Top load washers are being rapidly removed from Laundromats and replaced with small (home style) front load washers. I'm not talking about the larger industrial style front loads.
         The arguments in favor of small front load washers for Laundromats really involve water savings and energy efficiency. The other benefits are insignificant to the production of income. (ie: gentle cycles, better wash, ADA compliant, etc.)
         If the day of the top loads is over, why are they still being made by major manufacturers?  Why is there still a demand from the public for top load washers.
         The top load washers for Laundromats may be receiving a "bad rap" on benefits:
    1) They cost less to purchase.
    2) No need to change plumbing. (Those with dump valves.)
    3) No requirement to use HE soap.
    4) No mold issues.
    5) No leaks from door gaskets.
    6) No need for costly base installation.
    7) Some customers love using top loads.
    8) They hold fewer clothes and therefore makes more money for the Laundromat owner.
    9) Simplified repairs. No costly computer board failures (up to $300 or more per board) or timely gasket replacements.
    10) Fewer oversoaping issues.
    11) No need to block or impede aisles with open doors. 
         With the recent introduction of top load washers using 15 gallons of water per load, the prime benefit of small front load washers could be re-examined. Maybe keeping a row or two of top loads might be a good idea. What do you think?


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    Larry Larsen
    Laundromat123.com
    Anaheim, CA
    Distributor - Insurance - Consulting
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  • 2.  RE: Top load versus small front load washers. What's the best option?

    Posted 7 days ago
    Larry L,

    When I bought my Muskegon Laundromat in 1985, it had 45 GE top loaders and 4 Milnor front loaders.  It was originally built as a 50 top loader (token operated) store but the previous owner removed a row of 5 top loaders and installed those Milnors right up against a 12" wide bulkhead.  You can guess how much fun servicing them in that configuration was.

    Fast forward to today ... my laundromat has 34 hard mount, Huebsch front loaders in 20, 30, 40 and 80 lb. sizes.

    EFFICIENCY:
    Nothing is more efficient than a store full of hard mount, front load washers programmed with E-cycles - not even those small, soft mount front loaders that compete directly with top loaders.  My total (fixed and variable) utilities (electric, gas, water and sewer) were just 9% of gross sales last year.

    PURCHASE FEWER WASHERS/GET MORE CUSTOMERS:
    Although Huebsch, hard mount front loaders are much more expensive to buy than top loaders; I can actually buy fewer units due to their fast turn over time.  I not only buy fewer units, I also have to pay to ship fewer units and I install fewer units too.  Fewer units means lower Readiness To Serve fees on water and/or sewer hookup.  Fewer units means a high capacity laundromat can have room for customer convenience features such as single pocket dryers, large folding tables and wide aisles.

    CUSTOMER SATISFACTION:
    Today's customers are always in a hurry.  Perhaps this is why they gravitate to my washers with their 20 minute E-cycles.  A 20 lb. E-cycle washer completes its cycle 30% faster than a top load washer while handling twice as much laundry.  People like that and they will pay extra for it.

    CUSTOMIZABLE CYCLES:
    My customers can customize any of the 6 cycles by adding an Extra Wash if the load in heavily soiled or an Extra Rinse if they have a tendency to use a little too much detergent (like mom always did).  Although most don't find a need to modify the basic E-cycle by adding an Extra Wash or an Extra Rinse; those options are always readily available to those who need them.

    ULTRA HIGH EXTRACT:
    Today's Huebsch 20 lb. hard mount washers provide a 200g extract that allows the load to complete drying in 20 - 25 minutes.  The washer achieves its ultra high extract speed reliably and consistently too.  Since this is a gravity drain washer, there is never a wet load because the customer over-sudzed it.

    LONGEVITY:
    Hard mount front load washers can easily last 20+ years and still provide consistent cleaning results.  Maintenance on these washers is not excessive even as they age.

    CUSTOMER PERCEPTION:
    My 20 lb. E-cycle washers save customers time by completing the wash cycle quickly as well as drying the load fast.  My customers appreciate this and most are in and out in about an hour.  Top loaders are often over loaded resulting in a dissatisfied customer and dripping laundry.




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    Larry Adamski
    Muskegon Laundromat
    Spring Lake MI
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  • 3.  RE: Top load versus small front load washers. What's the best option?

    Posted 7 days ago
    Larry A. All good points, but I was asking about top load washers versus small (home style) washers such as Horizon.

    I also advocate large capacity washers, although I prefer 450-G force models because they are the most energy efficient.

    Your Milnor service issues would not have existed with the 450-G soft mount models. They aren't bolted to the floor and they can be pulled forward for easy service access. You should try them next time you replace.

    Also don't you think some people still want to sort their whites and colors and use small machines rather than cramming everything into a big washer?  Maybe there is a group of customers you don't attract because you don't offer all the washing options.

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    Larry Larsen
    Laundromat123.com
    Anaheim, CA
    Distributor - Insurance - Consulting
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  • 4.  RE: Top load versus small front load washers. What's the best option?

    Posted 7 days ago
    Due to space constraints and access issues, I have 9 ea SQ SS Gravity Drain Horizon's and 4 ea SQ Top Load washers.  Our larger units are 200 G force 40 lb  (5ea) and 60 lb (3ea) SQ hard mounts.  4ea SQ 30 lb stacks and 6ea 45 lb stacks serve the dry end.

    Our SS Horizon's are set on a 10 inch SQ base to accommodate plumbing connections.  They don't present as small home style washers, and are popular in our market, with many liking the larger doors.  The current Horizon's are the newest generation.  I should state that I am one of the operators that has not had problems marketing the Horizon Gravity Drain model washers.

    Our 4 ea Top Load units are new model SQ units.  These units are popular with the crowd that still want to soak their whites and also those smaller load customers that just don't want to deal with FL washers.  Bottom line is the units serve a purpose in our small store, and the ROI is reasonable.

    To put things in perspective, we took over the store with 12ea TL SQ, 6ea 30lb FL, and 2 ea 40lb FL with 8 ea 30 lb stack dryers.  Over several years and phases of the master plan, we marketed the Horizon successfully, and added one each additional 40 lb and one ea additional 60lb washers as demand increased.

    Our water heater went from the original 400K plus BTU boiler with a 230 gallon storage tank to a single 120 gallon Lochinvar condensing water heater, which reflects the improvement in utility use via the new washers.

    Seems like that was a long winded way to say that the SQ Horizon Gravity Drain and TL washers remain popular enough in our current market and mix to support the continued use of both styles.





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    Les Monthei
    Potential Investor
    Redding CA
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  • 5.  RE: Top load versus small front load washers. What's the best option?

    Posted 7 days ago
    Larry L,

    I have 15 small (20 lb. rated) Huebsch washers which are very popular with customers who like to separate their loads.  As you know, these hard mount machines have a basket size about equal to that of a top loader and a cabinet the same size too.  These washers are ideal for small loads and have non of the issues of top loaders or small frame front loaders.  At $4 a turn, they are a good value for my customers and profitable for me.

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    Larry Adamski
    Muskegon Laundromat
    Spring Lake MI
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  • 6.  RE: Top load versus small front load washers. What's the best option?

    Posted 6 days ago
    Larry L,

    The 450-G commercial softmount washers have their attributes & would be very attractive to customers if marketed properly ... but I can't help thinking that they might be double the initial cost of the same size 200-G hard mount.

    Also, has there really been enough time gone by to show that the added significant hydraulic or air??? shock absorbers will not be another added cost for the life cycle of the machine vs some of the hard mounts?   Like Larry A & the Dexter fans have said some of the newest hard mounts have "vastly???" improved their tub back bearing arrangement.

    It would be great if there would be an impartial controlled study putting my 1092 G hard mount dedicated spin only vs 450-G vs 200-G vs 90-G for drying time comparisons for various identical items.  Also the nifty end result ballooned-out effect for a down item.

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    Michael Walsh www.kingkoin.com
    Store Owner/ Employee
    King Koin Laundry, Car n Dog Wash
    Bismarck ND
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  • 7.  RE: Top load versus small front load washers. What's the best option?

    Posted 6 days ago
    I have one row of 12 Whirlpool Top load washer & I have lot of customers come in to just use them ( I'm the only store in the area with them). I also have a good mix of front load washers total-18. As long as top loaders are available I will offer them.

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    RAY DUNSAVAGE
    Store Owner/ Employee
    FREEHOLD NJ
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  • 8.  RE: Top load versus small front load washers. What's the best option?

    Posted 6 days ago
    Ray,

    What are your 12 top loaders priced at?

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    Larry Adamski
    Muskegon Laundromat
    Spring Lake MI
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  • 9.  RE: Top load versus small front load washers. What's the best option?

    Posted 6 days ago
    $3.00

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    RAY DUNSAVAGE
    Store Owner/ Employee
    FREEHOLD NJ
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  • 10.  RE: Top load versus small front load washers. What's the best option?

    Posted 6 days ago
    Edited by Larry Adamski 6 days ago
    Ray,

    I removed my last 5 top loaders in 2012.  They were priced at $3.  I replaced them with 5 Huebsch 20 lb. hard mounts priced at $3.  That was 6 years ago.  Sales have set records in every one of those 6 years except 2017.

    Top load customers can become happy front load customers.  Imagine this scenario.   A top load customer has just started her washer when another customer arrives and loads and starts the nearby 20 lb. E-cycle front loader.   The top loader customer cannot help but notice the front loader customer is moving her laundry to the dryer as she still waits for her top loader to finish.

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    Larry Adamski
    Muskegon Laundromat
    Spring Lake MI
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  • 11.  RE: Top load versus small front load washers. What's the best option?

    Posted 6 days ago
    I agree with Larry. Keep a few for those customers that are only accustom to to loaders. The new top loaders have many program options

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    Denise Rubenstein
    Store Owner/ Employee
    Laundermagic of Patchogue
    Bayport NY
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  • 12.  RE: Top load versus small front load washers. What's the best option?

    Posted 6 days ago
    Hello all , in my experience with toploaders the biggest complaint I have by far is customers overloading them ! In my fully attended store I'm down to 3 toploaders out of 66 washers . I have them priced the same as my 20lb fronts and we do our best to encourage people to get a way better wash by using the 20lb washers . Once we get them to try the front loaders most have made a point to tell me how much better they like them . Yet almost daily I'm dealing with someone having put their full size comforters - large rugs - sleeping bags etc. in toploaders. My New Years resolution is to get the last 3 out so I can live happily ever after!  Brian

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    BRIAN D CORNELL
    Store Owner/ Employee
    JACKSON MI
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  • 13.  RE: Top load versus small front load washers. What's the best option?

    Posted 6 days ago
    Brian:  Now your market is one I would have ditched the Top Load washers in long ago.  Don't need that daily aggravation.

    I also would not have any soft mount Horizon's, as they would become the next victim of over loading.

    I would have a big sign on the 20 lb hard mounts that advised if the units are overloaded or over soaped you will get wet, soppy, soapy, sloppy laundry at the end of the cycle, and the only option is to split the loads into the correct number of small washers or use a properly sized washer AT YOUR EXPENSE..

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    Les Monthei
    Potential Investor
    Redding CA
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