CLA Connect Open Forum

Pay Restroom

  • 1.  Pay Restroom

    Posted 6 days ago
    Hi Everyone, I have unattended laundromats with restrooms.  One I have never had a problem with, the other is a pain in the ......   I am seriously considering purchasing a pay mechanism for the bathroom door.  Has anyone here installed one?  How about some feedback for and against installing one.  The previous owner just left it locked and the customers have liked having access to it but its the people off the street that are killing it.  I hate to piss off my customers.  What do you think?

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    Paul DeFrisco
    Multiple Store Owner
    Lakewood Laundromat
    Lakewood NY
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  • 2.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 6 days ago
    Gotta change countries if you want to do that.  There is a reason you have never seen a pay toilet anywhere.

    There are generally local and state laws against it, but the kicker is the plumbing code, which is adopted as whole by municipalities.

    The plumbing code specifies the number and type of bathroom facilities for commercial properties open to the public.  The way the definition works, if you have to have customer bathrooms, they have to be open to the customers.

    In some places, it is very legal to require "customer only" to use them, but you can't charge or restrict.

    You can probably get away with just locking it and not providing any at all, although that has its own issues.


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    Luigi
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  • 3.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 6 days ago
    .    So you might want to buy a pay toilet lock? The only pay toilet lock you can purchase is from Monarch.  It's a nice unit, but not as heavy duty it's only competitor. As of a few years ago it sells for around $350.00.
         The competitor is Nik-O-Lok which rents their locks for about $20.00 per month. They don't sell their locks. Nil-O-Lok is owned by Standard Changers. Yes, the bill changer company. Call Standard for availability in your area. They install it as part of the rental. Very heavy duty lock.
         Pay toilet locks discourage your Laundromat from becoming the neighborhood restroom, reduce upkeep problems and assist in keeping non-customers from invading your business.
         They also can make a lot of money. Hundreds of dollars a month in busy stores. I've used both models for decades in SoCal. Never had a problem with any enforcement entity.
         As to customer complaints, I always responded to complaints by pulling out of my pocket a handful of quarters and asking "how much have you put in? I put the lock on to protect your safety, not to make money. When you see me, just tell me how much you're spent and I'll give it back to you."  I never get many people asking for money, and they all appreciate the clean facilities provided.
         The only problem I've experienced is people blocking the door open with toilet paper stuck in the latch. Easy fix and infrequent event.
         To discourage ADA lawsuits, I also mark restrooms with an "Employee Use Only" sign. Access keys are provided to cleaning staff to allow current customers free access.
         Do Laundromats really need a toilet, or lose customers to competitors? Not really. No health reason to wash your hands before washing your hands. Many businesses have don't have restrooms open to the public. Have you been to a Subway and seen a bathroom?  Restrooms are a diminishing convenience item in many businesses.
         I understand that local expections, customs, regulations and enforcement agencies may make installation of pay toilet locks impractical, but they do assist in solving problems in certain locations.

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    Larry Larsen
    Laundromat123.com
    Anaheim, CA
    Distributor - Insurance - Consulting
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  • 4.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 5 days ago
    I have been tempted to put count up time display on the outside or the restroom clearly show how long someone has been inside. This I think could help with smaller restrooms designed for only one person & possibly a helper in the case of a handicapped person.  That way people on the outside can be alerted & the person on the inside avoids being false accused of being in there too long!  It could be a relatively simple Arduino Project that could keep the cost to less than $25 even after vandal proofing it.

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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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  • 5.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 5 days ago

    I've used both models for decades in SoCal. Never had a problem with any enforcement entity.
    Larry Larsen,  01-11-2019 14:11
    This cracks me up.  I didn't think it was possible in 2019.

    Interestingly, laws against pay toilets are now being repealed in certain places (not California, LOL, you're a bandit apparently) because it is a great idea.

    There is actually an "American Restroom Association" and there was a group that got them outlawed called the "Committee to end Pay Toilets in America".

    I'd love to make an extra 100/month through my expensive-to-build ADA compliant bathroom.  I don't have the same problems as you guys with unattended stores, but damn the toilet paper roll AND the toilet paper dispenser keeps disappearing.  Seriously who wants a $3.50 toilet paper roll dispenser from the hardware store?  I've gone through two now.  Weird.

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    Luigi
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  • 6.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 4 days ago
    I really wish we had the low crime, low rents and low wages of some Laundromats outside of SoCal.  Many stores just can't afford to be fully attended. Utilities run 20-30% of gross and rents/CAM are 20-40% of gross. Minimum wage is way above national levels.

    About 75% of our Laundromats are therefore partially attended. In some of the low income neighborhoods (the typical "good" locations) the abuse of restrooms is common.

    Drug use, drug sales, sex sales, homeless showers, stolen paper goods, broken fixtures and graffiti are prevalent and a nice quiet, warm and private restroom is attractive to conduct business.  How do you control this activity in a partially attended location?

    To protect your customers and your business, the use of pay toilets is a reasonable option. I think it is far better than locking the restroom.

    Why not offer services that make more money so you can have a full time attendant? In a SoCal low income, high Hispanic neighborhood, WDF just doesn't make money. What minimum wage person is going to pay $20.00 to wash 20-LBs of clothes when they can do it themselves for $3.00?

    One of every nine Americans lives in California, so I don't believe the issues that affect our Laundromats are aberrations or can always be understood by owners who are fortunate enough to be able to earn their living solely in the operation of their Laundromats.

    I marvel at some of the responses by knowledgeable owners, very successful in their locations, who cannot grasp that different environments may require different solutions.

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    Larry Larsen
    Laundromat123.com
    Anaheim, CA
    Distributor - Insurance - Consulting
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  • 7.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 5 days ago
    If you have Laundrycard or Fascard you can setup a reader to be mounted outside the bathroom door and wired to a door strike to open the door. This would be great for laundry customers only.

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    Harry

    SupaWash Laundry Center
    31 Pond Street. Ashland, MA. 01721
    Phone/Fax: 508.620.1109 *email: SupaWashLaundry@Gmail.com
    Web: www.SupaWash.com * facebook: www.facebook.com/supawash
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sudzio Laundry Pickup & Delivery Service
    Phone: 508.589.4880 * email: Hello@Sudzio.com
    Web: www.Sudzio.com * facebook: www.facebook.com/MySudzio
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 5 days ago
    Edited by Michael Walsh 5 days ago
    Paul,

    Granted Harry's approach has its merits but maybe not at an unattended laundromat & could work for some locations such as his.

    My thoughts are it is better to have the option of the ability to leave the door open when the restroom is not in use.  I am thinking that over time at a less attended place the shimmying of the closure of the door could become very common nullifying the card or the coin lock or the keypad (code) approach.

    The time count-up that I previously mentioned seems extra do-able (sensor wise) & could exert some healthy tension to the few abusers of the privilege of using the privately maintained "good will" restroom IMHO.

    Sure it is against most local ordinances for public urination etc ... but I shudder to think about even a few incidences of that happening when the police are not looking or pants soiled because of too many businesses not allowing a few non customers to use their restroom for up to 1-4 minutes.  Over 4 minutes would give the person waiting or the owner the reasonable right to holler to the person "Are you having a medical problem ...  Is a call for ambulance needed"

    In my opinion for our restroom "an easy to open with a small screwdriver" lock is the best overall idea ... to avoid the possible need to break down the down by force with much damage & delay ...  in the case of someone passed out in the restroom ... not responding to the person waiting or the owner's verbal request of their status etc!

    I remember being on some mission work in Antiqua, Guatemala (partially third world status) & the emergency room USA certified doctor that I was with commented on the large number of people publicly urinating.  Not just a few ... BTW.

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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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  • 9.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 5 days ago
    Edited by Curt Harrington 5 days ago
    Michael's idea of an easy open lock also has another advantage. I have one that can be opened with a fingernail or coin. Easy to unlock in the event of a medical emergency but since it is not really all that secure the people doing bad things know that at any time that door could open.

    Luigi,
    I had a welding shop make one for me. It holds two rolls on flat stock. In other words you can not spin the roll. Has a handle on one side and a lock on the other. It has all thread with fender washers and lock nuts on the other side of the block wall. Hasn't gone anywhere in ten years.

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    Curt Harrington

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  • 10.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 5 days ago
    Our restrooms get some periodic abuse, but not to the extent we have closed them.  Customers appreciate access to the restrooms.

    As I understand, Starbucks opened their restrooms to anyone and everyone after an idiot employee was discriminating in some manner.  I just read an article that noted Starbucks is installing needle drop boxes in their restrooms where they are having a problem with the junkies leaving needles on the floor.

    Maybe next will be folding cots and free coffee.

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    Les Monthei
    Potential Investor
    Redding CA
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  • 11.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 4 days ago
    I added a card access to my bathroom in December. It has really cut down on the number of people walking in off the street to use it. I don't charge for the access, but every door unlock gives me their card number so I can check if they are using the laundrymat for washing and drying or just the restroom. I have had at least one guy figure out if he puts a $1 on a card he can still access the bathroom. It also gives me time so I can check the cameras to see who is using it. This summer will be a good test to see how effective it is. That is when we have the most problem.

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    Jared Friesen
    Store Owner/ Employee
    Wash & Dry
    American Fls ID
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  • 12.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 4 days ago
    This is one of the great features of a card system.  Not making the card-coin debate, here.  I have recently acquired a card store and the bathroom feature is awesome.  A buddy just did a new unattended card store with card access on the restroom, again no problems.

    I had a non-customer get ahold of a no-value card and was using the restroom for 30-40 minutes twice a week to shower and clean them-selves.  I disabled the card and they haven't been back.  Nice and easy, no fight with the attendant either!

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    Timothy Foster
    Multi-Store Owner/ Employee
    Toledo
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  • 13.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 4 days ago
    Guys;

    You are making your places just like Mexico! I was down in Ensenada and other places. There are NO public bathrooms and if you are not a paying customer you have to go find an excluded area. They even charge for the TP and forget about washing your hands.

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    Deward Stout
    Store Owner/ Employee
    Hurricane Laundromat & Storage
    Hurricane UT
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  • 14.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 4 days ago
    Deward:  Bringing up Mexico and Restrooms reminded me of a FarNorCal CA campground the kids operated for a while.  For several years, and continuing....there is a large Mexican family group, and they will hot flush toilet paper.  We talked to them about flushing the toilet paper, but no luck.  The operators finally put a garbage bucket with a top to dispose of the toilet paper.  The customers know there is a septic system installed, and  I was told that they come from an area where the septic systems don't tolerate paper.  Seemed weird to me.

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    Les Monthei
    Potential Investor
    Redding CA
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  • 15.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 4 days ago
    Les,

    When I stayed in Guatemala in May of 1998, the family I stayed with & all restaurants that I went to with the group ... made it clear that no toilet paper was to go in the toilets. Signage was important.  It was not ideal but the pop up lid containers worked better than some of us might think.  Not sure on the landfill technicalities if any when it came to the decomposition period of the debris though.

    I honestly do think Deward does make valid points.  It would kind of hinge on if all businesses in an area had too tight of restrictions on who uses their restrooms it seems.  I kind of like what Case Harris did when he put in showers at his laundromat.  Coins not having the trade offs of credit cards seem best there also .... I'm sorry I could not resist.   Sorry ... no credit or bad credit ... no potty???

    I remember when we had the Greyhound bus station downtown when I was a kid they were the only ones with locks on their bathroom stalls.  Even at the age of 10 ... I could see that it was definitely a public relations problem for them.  I am not sure if some laundromats could face the same bad PR in some areas of the USA.

    I remember being in Las Vegas walking from the old Sahara to the middle of the Strip on a 115° F day & was not able to find a single drinking fountain ... yes we do have a free use of a drinking fountain at our laundromat.   I wonder if I am more the exception or the norm when it comes to that freebie.


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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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  • 16.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 4 days ago
    If you put in a coin drop to access restrooms in CA, I foresee another rules sign need so those that claim they paid to use the restroom don't bring their sleeping bag.

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    Les Monthei
    Potential Investor
    Redding CA
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  • 17.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 3 days ago
    No need to go to Mexico. Mexico has come to us. At least three of our California cities in SoCal have more illegal (undocumented) residents than citizens. I've found that dense Mexican populations are the best Laundromat locations.

    They may want a trash can for their used toilet paper but I've never heard a complaint about a pay toilet lock.


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    Larry Larsen
    Laundromat123.com
    Anaheim, CA
    Distributor - Insurance - Consulting
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  • 18.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 3 days ago
    Edited by Jason Frasier 3 days ago
      |   view attached
    My store is near downtown and all businesses in the area lock their bathrooms. I am completely unattended and next door to a liquor store so I was basically running a shelter when I first bought the place. I installed a Monarch lock (and seating that doesnt double as a bed) and the problem almost completely disappeared! A few customers were upset but I explained the issue and most understood. Most people saw the immediate change in the enviroment at the store and knew why I had done it! People try to prop the door regularly and it ultimately locks everyone out until its reset but my only other option is "always locked" so it's better than nothing. If your customer is elderly, pregnant, or has small children, I think it's an important convienence to provide them a bathroom if at all possible.

    At a laundry, most customers have a quarter in their hand so it's no big deal. At another type of business it might be more of a hassle to get change for the bathroom. As for 'making money' from it, I give all the proceeds to my cleaning lady as a bonus. My location does about $1/dy.

    I love the card idea! If you can make it work, do it! I plan to implement that exact thing for my front door so I can be 24hr accessible to regular customers.

    Recently replaced the sink because of vandalism. Before the lock the problem was much worse...


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    Jason Frasier
    Sharon SpringsKS
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  • 19.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 3 days ago
    Having a sink behind a locked door invites even more problems. I have a toilet only behind a door and still have people bathing a child out in the open where the sink is.

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    Curt Harrington

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  • 20.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 3 days ago
    Thanks for all the input!

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    Paul DeFrisco
    Multiple Store Owner
    Lakewood Laundromat
    Lakewood NY
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  • 21.  RE: Pay Restroom

    Posted 3 days ago
    A bathroom lock can be set up to accept tokens. If attended, the attendant can give a token to any customer who asks for one. No cost to the customer, just controlled access.

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    Y Winston
    Store Owner/ Employee
    Chesapeake VA
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