With laundry facilities ranked by residents as one of the most important common-area amenities of multifamily properties, it’s essential that property managers and owners make laundry room management a top priority. This is important not only to enhancing resident satisfaction, but also for the overall value and attractiveness of the rental property. Furthermore, laundry operations can become more profitable when managed efficiently and with the latest technology.

One of the most fundamental decisions property owners must make in managing laundry facilities is deciding whether to lease or purchase laundry equipment. Although the initial price tag is an important factor for property owners who decide to purchase their own laundry equipment for common-area laundry rooms, there are significant hidden costs in doing so that over time become more apparent.

It’s a common misperception that owning laundry equipment is more profitable than leasing. More often than not, the financial benefits of purchasing machines are far less than one might expect. The longevity of laundry machines depends on many unpredictable variables, including climate, usage, the number of residents using each machine and resident profiles.

In fact, according to an article in the Journal for Property Management, as laundry machines age, the costs associated with repair and maintenance increase, while the income from laundry room operations decreases. Statistics have shown that after five years, on average, the equipment’s performance begins to deteriorate. While the equipment may last for much longer, the income from these machines gradually drops while maintenance and repair costs go up.

Property owners with high-traffic laundry rooms often choose to lease laundry room equipment and enlist the services of a route operator since service and maintenance are usually available within these contracts. By contracting with an outside company to provide laundry room equipment and professionally manage laundry operations, property owners also can benefit from deep discounts that these vendors are able to negotiate with leading manufacturers in purchasing machines. Laundry route operators also have expert technicians on call and maintain a large inventory of parts so property owners don’t have to worry about maintenance and repairs.

Furthermore, some vendors will offer a vend-price analysis to help maximize laundry room use and profitability. This entails regular reporting on laundry room usage and revenue so property owners can have access to all of the information they need to monitor their laundry room’s performance.

Whether property owners choose to buy or lease their equipment, it’s important they use ENERGY STAR-qualified machines to keep laundry-related water and electricity costs as low as possible. Property owners also can make laundry room management and maintenance an easier and more cost-effective task through the use of technology-based amenities and applications available for the laundry room.

One leading laundry-service provider offers a free mobile app that property managers can download to allow residents to request laundry machine service by simply using the camera in their smartphones to scan the barcode on the machine. This alleviates property owners from the hassle of requesting laundry room repair service by enabling residents and maintenance staff to make a service request in just seconds, right from the laundry room.

Another web-based service available from a leading laundry-service provider allows residents to monitor the status of their laundry from any device that offers online access. Residents can use this service to confirm machine availability before making a trip to the laundry room.

Also, coinless payment technology can make laundry room management an easier task. In addition to offering a convenient payment method for residents, coinless systems offer greater security because they remove cash from the property to prevent theft.

Some coinless systems provide residents with a laundry payment card. For others, they can use their credit or debit cards right at the machine in lieu of coins. Some service providers also offer mobile payment apps that allow residents to pay for laundry from their phones.

Fortunately, property owners and managers have more options than ever when it comes to managing and enhancing their laundry operations. Whether you own or manage a large apartment complex or a small rental property, maintaining and managing laundry facilities can be done effectively and profitably with a thorough understanding of all of the options and emerging technology available to make the job easier.