There’s no question that technology is changing our everyday lives. While the multifamily laundry room has traditionally been seen as “low tech,” there is a tremendous opportunity for property owners to transform this important amenity with new technology applications that bring greater convenience and increased profitability.
Leading laundry service providers are staying on the forefront of new and emerging technology and working with property owners to ensure that the laundry experience is the best it possibly can be and that making needless trips to the laundry room and counting coins are things of the past.
The Internet of Things meets the laundry room
Cloud-enabled technology is transforming how we work and live by allowing our devices and machines to communicate with each other to capture and leverage data. When it comes to the multifamily laundry room, it is now possible to capture data from laundry machines to not only track usage, but to gain insights that can then be applied to help property owners determine how best to equip, price and maintain their common-area laundry facilities.
For example, a leading laundry provider can use cloud-based technology to access the real-time data record on its laundry machines across the country, and can track machine-specific data from when the washer or dryer arrives to the warehouse, revealing its lifetime service record. By analyzing its service history as well as the brand and type (i.e., front-loading vs. standard washer), valuable insights can be gained that will lead to lower costs. For instance, one type and brand of machine may cost more initially, but overall the total cost of ownership is lower because it requires fewer service calls.
The same technology can be used to capture and map external market data regarding residents’ socioeconomic and demographic profiles to the types of machines and pricing that is best suited for each property. As a result, property owners can buy or lease the ideal machines and set appropriate machine-use fees for their residents, which will also generate the maximum revenue from the laundry room.
Remote access technology eases maintenance headaches
Remote access technology and applications have infiltrated all aspects of our lives so it’s not surprising they have found their way into laundry rooms. For example, remote monitoring and diagnostics monitoring systems offered by a leading laundry service provider allow property owners and managers to access up-to-the-minute information about their property’s laundry machines. Through these systems, property managers can receive alerts when laundry machines go offline or need service.
Simultaneously, these service alerts are sent to technicians. Before residents may even know there is a problem, help can be on the way. As a result, property managers minimize the downtime of laundry machines and save time they might have spent inspecting machines or calling service representatives.
In addition, a free mobile app created by a leading laundry service provider allows residents or property managers to make service requests in just seconds straight from the laundry room using their smartphones. Users can request service by simply using the camera on their smartphones to scan the barcode on the machine. By using barcode technology, service technicians know exactly which machine is in need of repair once they are on the property.
Using remote systems provided by laundry service providers, residents also can remotely monitor the status of their common-area laundry rooms through any device that offers Internet access or via phone. This provides them with the ability to access real-time information about the availability of washers and dryers before making the trip to the laundry facilities. When their laundry is finished or a machine becomes available, they can receive phone, email and text alerts. In addition to the convenience this brings to residents, remote access services reduce crowding in the laundry room especially during high-peak laundry times, making the task of doing laundry a more user-friendly experience for everyone.
GPS and navigational technology also is being used to expedite service requests remotely. Some laundry service companies use GPS software to ensure service technicians are routed quickly and efficiently for service calls. With this software, all service vehicles have GPS technology on board to track their location. All service calls are fed into a centralized system where they are efficiently routed so the closest technician can get to service calls as soon as possible.
Coinless payment technology pays off
Multifamily property owners are increasingly adopting electronic card systems for their laundry rooms to eliminate the need for residents to use coins in machines. For most coinless laundry rooms, residents receive a laundry payment card onto which they can add value at any time using a credit card or bank ATM card. These coinless systems not only offer convenience to residents, but also greater security over traditional coin-operated washers and dryers. With card payments, property owners can restrict the use of laundry rooms to only residents and remove all cash from the property to prevent theft.
In addition to laundry card payment systems, some service providers offer the option for residents to use their existing debit or credit cards and pay right at the machine. With these versatile payment systems, residents can simply swipe the card of their choice and be instantly approved without the need to carry an extra card just to do their laundry.
Another way that some multifamily laundry rooms have made the leap to coinless technology is through smartphone payment apps. Using a smartphone application, residents can add value from their phones and scan a QR code from the machine to do their laundry. Once the code is scanned, the machines start and payment is deducted from the available funds purchased using the app.
The multifamily laundry room may not be the first place one thinks of as being “high-tech.” However, by partnering with a laundry services provider that can apply new and emerging technology-based service applications to their operations, property owners can efficiently transform their property’s laundry room into a more profitable and convenient amenity.
Cathy Jackson is VP of Marketing for WASH Multifamily Laundry Systems, www.washlaundry.com, a leader in technology-advanced, eco-friendly laundry room operations.