Laundry Room Logic: Updating (Extremely Outdated) Campus Technologiesby@quoraanswers
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Laundry Room Logic: Updating (Extremely Outdated) Campus Technologies

by QuoraJune 8th, 2018
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Everything on a college campus today is an experience.

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By Todd Belveal, Founder and CEO at Washlava. Originally published on Quora.

Everything on a college campus today is an experience.

Students don’t just go to a dingy basement gym to work out. They go to a multi-million dollar rec center complete with state-of-the-art equipment and a lazy river.

Universities are competing for students, shelling out huge amounts of money to prove they have the best amenities. Lavish dining facilities, roomy dorms, and pricey athleisure at the bookstore are all there to attract students.

But for all the structural and cosmetic improvements being made on campus, laundry has been overlooked entirely.

The laundry facilities on every major college campus still look pretty much the same as they did 20 years ago. Small, white washing machines and stacks of cheap tumble dryers lined up against the walls. Some of the machines are almost the same age as the students.

Universities are underestimating the importance of laundry by outsourcing it to old school equipment providers that don’t care. They figure it’s not a big deal to students, but they’re making a huge mistake.

Anyone can see universities need to rethink laundry.

It’s bizarre how forgotten an amenity laundry is on most campuses.

At most campuses, this is how it works: A student walks out of her dorm room with her hamper, heads down the stairs to the basement of her brand new residence hall, and what greets her? A depressing sight.

Rows of archaic laundry machines with coin slots — and maybe a card reader on the wall for her student ID card. The machines are old, the payment systems are faulty, and the process quickly becomes a bottleneck. Especially once students figure out which machines leave their clothes soaking wet.

Most students are coming from homes with an LG, a Whirlpool, or some other machine with a digital display and six speeds for everything from wool sweaters to towels. Then they get to the university washing machines, and they have two options — gentle cycle or normal cycle. They just dropped $500 on overpriced school apparel at the bookstore, and now they’re supposed to wash it all in these antiquated machines.

University laundry is undoubtedly ready for a change.

Most universities haven’t raised the price of laundry in a decade or more. It’s still a dollar to do a load of wash.

And why would they raise prices?

The experience doesn’t justify it one bit.

In reality, students aren’t going to care about a dollar increase if it comes with new machines and better technology. Technology they expect. No one notices the difference between one and two dollars when they’re using their iPhone to reserve a brand new washer and dryer.

But universities aren’t making that upgrade, in part because they keep agreeing to ridiculous, decade-long contracts that serve no one but the laundry equipment provider. Once the contract has been signed, there’s no incentive for the provider to be helpful or provide good service.

If a student has a problem with a machine, it’ll sit for weeks with a piece of paper duct taped to it that says “out of order.” It might even be useless all semester.

These universities need to make a change, and they’re in a great position to do so, because they have the perfect clientele for an upgrade.

Students are the best users for new laundry technology.

College students do more laundry than anyone.

There are only so many clothes they can bring with them from home. And every time their favorite shirt needs a wash, that’s another load.

Every student today has a smartphone — or they should. So, why not capitalize on the ubiquity of those devices and go with a coinless, efficient system for laundry?

Most students rarely have cash on them, let alone coins. People get change when they make purchases with cash, and students don’t make purchases with cash. They use university ID cards or they pay with their debit cards.

Students expect to live in a tech-based world, and universities constantly advertise themselves as cutting edge. They claim to have the newest technology and do the most exciting research. Their students are primed to integrate tech into every part of their lives.

Yet their laundry facilities are from 1995, if not earlier.

You can’t deny the perks of the updated system.

The mobile-based laundry app we’re developing at Washlava isn’t even comparable to the current situation.

Students can use the app to reserve machines, lock them, pay for loads, and even learn how to do laundry on our newly-installed machines.

Our goal is to take a chore and turn it into an experience — just like all the other experiences these universities are advertising.

And it’s working.

Our pilot program at the University of Florida in Gainesville was a huge success by every measure. Students loved how convenient the experience was. They knew if and when they could get a machine, they were notified when their laundry was done, and they could pay for it all with their phones.

But it wasn’t just the students who loved the machines.

The residence hall staff told us they made the laundry room more efficient, and the new machines were a draw on campus tours.

Residence hall directors were actually fighting over who would get Washlava first, and the management company that operates the residence halls issued a letter recommendation for Washlava.

Those are the reactions of people who’ve been dealing with a terrible product and experience for much too long.

College students deserve better laundry, and when their universities finally realize this, we’re going to give it to them one campus at a time.

By Todd Belveal, Founder and CEO at Washlava. Originally published on Quora.

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