A professionally run, clean and modern laundry room is a real boost for a buildings revenue. I spoke with Maxi Castillo of Coinamatic Corporation about the advances in laundry services for multi-unit residential buildings in Canada.

Bill Goold: Maxi, Coinamatic has been around for years. How big a company is it? 

Maxi Castillo: It’s the largest multi-unit laundry company in Canada, Bill. We have our products in over 90,000 machines serving 15,000 buildings right across Canada.

BG: So what’s new in the laundry business?

MC: It’s always changing Bill. We are at the forefront of some new technologies that are changing the way people interact with our systems. The tenants are still getting clean clothes and the landlords are still making money from provided the service, but it’s easier for both parties.

BG: What are some of the innovations?

MC: Let’s start with the nuts and bolts - the washers and dryers. The new washers are front load models. They are more efficient from a resource point of view, both water and electricity, so that’s great for the landlord. They hold more, so tenants can get their washing done in less loads, with less soap, which is awesome for the tenants and the environment.  And because the washers spin faster, they remove more water from the cloths, so they take less time to dry. 

BG: My wife has been asking for a front load washer for a couple of years now. Are they really that much better?

MC: It’s actually surprising how much more efficient they are. You can expect to save 15% to 20% on the resources for washing, and drying times are in the range of 10% less. Over the course of a year those savings for a property owner really start to add up.

BG: Now the company is call Coinamatic, but I understand you have a couple new ways to pay?

MC: Yes we do. We’ve developed and are at the forefront of payment card technology for laundry installations. Our Smart Card system allows a tenant to pre-load an amount onto the account and then use that card to do his laundry. From the tenants point of view, it’s a very convenient alternative to digging around in the couch looking for change. The landlord also benefits with the card system in a couple of ways. First, there is no money on site to attract thieves. Second, it allows the landlord to customize the wash cycle payment matrix. For example, you can charge more for hot water, or an extra rinse, things that weren’t possible before the computerized card system.

BG: Does the landlord need to have an ATM system to get money on the card?

MC: No, and that’s one of the best parts of the system. The card can be purchased and reloaded at places like London Drugs, Mac’s Milk, and Shoppers Drug Mart. It’s very handy for the tenant.

BG: That’s a big leap in technology from the old systems.

MC: There’s other advances we’re pioneering as well. Let’s say you live in a 15 storey building it can be a real hassle to get your laundry together, go downstairs, only to find that the washers are all busy. Then you have to haul the laundry all the way back home and try again later. We’ve got a new system that will actually send a text message to your phone when a washer is free. 

BG: What a cool feature.

MC: We’re staying at the forefront on this technology and we’re finding that these advances are being used by building managers in ways to promote their properties and encourage tenant retention. We have managers that use a $25 laundry smart card as a “Welcome to the Building” bonus. Some property management companies use them as rewards for referring a new tenant, or as a “Thankyou” on the anniversary of a tenants residency.

BG: Those are great ideas. Where do you see the industry going?

MC: We’re looking forward and seeing our company not just as a laundry company, but rather as a partner with the property owner to help them manage their electrical and water use to save energy and lower costs. On the revenue side, having a professionally managed laundry facility on-site helps landlords get better tenants and having a well used laundry room can generate a steady revenue stream. 

BG: Thanks Maxi. 

Coin-a-Matic Laundry Systems