The Great Divide

Sort or no sort? America’s laundromat owners are divided over separating coins.

Single coin purists say no. They make sure only one denomination lands in the money box, even  if that means 40 quarters for a ten-buck wash. Those who do jump to dollars will flat out reject quarters so collections remain sort-free.

On the flip side are dual/multi-coin enthusiasts who believe quarters should flow alongside dollars and even dollar tokens. To them, divvying things up is a small price to pay for customer convenience.

And for those on the fence, sorting’s great divide comes down to separating fact from fiction. 

Myth #1: Sorting takes a lot of time

The truth is it doesn’t. Watch here as $500 in quarters and dollars gets split in 30 seconds — that’s $1,000 a minute.

Myth #2: Sorting is a pain

The truth is sorting prevents headaches by moving potential problems off the floor and into the backroom. 

Sorters weed out undesired coinage and debris from collections. They catch the bad stuff before it gets recirculated, helping owners optimize bill changer and coin drop performance. Picking a bent quarter out of a sorter sure beats having it jam a hopper.

Myth #3: Sorting increases coin handling

The opposite is true. Sorting is part of dual/multi-coin pay, where every dollar coin or token replaces four quarters. 

Take a quarter-only store pulling in $5,000 (20,000 coins) per week in self-serve revenue. 

Now compare it to a dollar-mostly laundry, which dispenses either dollar coins or tokens while welcoming walk-in quarters. That same $5,000 gross typically results in collecting about 8,000 coins — roughly 4,000 in dollar-valued coinage plus 4,000 quarters — or a whopping 60% reduction. 

Quarter-only laundry
$5,000/week = 20,000 coins

Dollar-mostly laundry
$5,000/week = 8,000 coins

Dollar-mostly dramatically decreases the number of coins. It affords an operator the luxury of less frequent collections as each higher denomination dollar takes up less vault space than four quarters. 

That 8,000-count mixed collection can be machine-sorted in far less time than another round of pulling boxes at the quarter-only store.

The same holds true for those changer-dispensing dollar/quarter blends, where the coin count hovers around half that of a quarter-only format. 

It begs the question: Why not dollar-only and no sorting? 

While that’s certainly an option, quarters walking in with customers can account for 20% of machine revenue — by no means small change. 

Going dollar-only also eliminates quarter increment price flexibility, now or in the future.

Dollar-only and quarter-only store owners frequently transfer coins from scale to hopper. The weigh-and-dump collection routine is fast, but misses unwanted coins and debris segregated during a sort.

Myth #4: Sorters aren’t designed for laundromats

The truth is self-service laundry employs the same modern sorting technology as any other coin-intensive industry. 

But sorters aren’t one size fits all. Identifying the coins/tokens to be processed and the total projected volume per collection will help guide you in selecting a commercial grade machine that’s right for the job. 

Speed and accuracy matter. So does the number of times a coin passes through the device. Since most owners need both sorting and counting, it’s best to consider which category the machine falls into: Combination sorter/counter, off-sorter or dedicated sorter. 

High-speed combo sorter/counters can fully process dollar/quarter mixes in a single pass. They’re offered in countertop and rolling stand versions, ready to handle dual denomination coin collections generated by even the highest volume laundry.

Store owners can also explore sorter/counters set up to discriminate between mixed denomination coin and token collections.

Manufacturers offer a wide variety of options in select combo units related to bagging, printing and other functions. Among the familiar names in this category are Cummins Allison and Glory.

Like the combo units, off-sorters utilize a horizontal spinning coin disc, but count the largest diameter coin/token and spin all others off to a side chute. 

Compact commercial models start around $500 on Amazon, while larger capacity units are available through coin handling equipment distributors. Well-known manufacturers include Cassida and Scan Coin.

Off-sorters separate two coins quickly in a small footprint. Owners boost productivity by cutting two holes in their countertop and connecting PVC pipe to the machine’s exit points so coins get channeled into their respective bucket.

Counting the smaller denomination coin requires a setting adjustment and second pass, but some savvy operators eliminate that step by positioning a scale under the off-sort quarter bucket.

For laundries dispensing only dollar tokens or dollar tokens and quarters, off-sorters can be calibrated to count the slightly larger diameter tokens while discharging quarters and the few carry-in dollar coins. A second pass ensures separation of the two residual coins.

Lastly, rail-style sorters process collections as mixed coinage is manually fed into the rotating coin disc and separated as it rolls down a raceway. Electric and crank models are available through Klopp, which has been serving the industry for decades. These devices are typically used in tandem with a coin counter.

Klopp sorters can also be custom ordered to separate dual coin/dual token collections in one pass, a convenient and economical solution for small volume laundries accepting up to four types of coinage — dollars, quarters, as well as dollar- and quarter-valued tokens.

Myth #5: There aren’t any good resources on sorters

Truth be told, laundromat owners can get their coin and token sorting needs fulfilled by reaching out to the coin handling equipment manufacturer representatives provided in the links above. 

Attending vending and amusement industry trade shows is another a great way to gain knowledge and compare products.

Imonexology - Laurance Cohen

Laurance Cohen is part of the Imonex team and welcomes inquiries on innovative payment solutions for your business.
(954) 999-7785

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