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Laundry services in the 90's.

Advances in computer technology have created a window of opportunity to improve laundry services, but these innovations must be tested and perfected before they are put into use. In an effort to remain competitive, many coin-operated service companies are rushing to implement new technologies before they have been adequately perfected, and that can ultimately result in higher costs and more problems for the customer.

There is no doubt that access cards for the room and the machinery, much like bank cards, are in our immediate future, but we are not utilizing them until we have a handle on the problems that we understand are occurring. We've heard tales about cards being copied, as well as concerns about the sensitivity of these systems to breakdown and misuse. We will not be recommending these systems until we are satisfied that we are in fact improving, not compromising our excellent service.

My father Herb, president and founder of our 46-year-old family owned and operated business, has seen many service "fads" come and go over the years. My Dad's never been the first guy on the block with a new toy, but he's sure been the one called first to repair it.

Our staff engineers and mechanics perform rigorous testing on all new products and systems that are being considered for use by Metered to improve laundry room service and operations. Presently, our team is evaluating the latest card access technology, and making changes to remove the "glitches" and perfect the system before offering it to our many clients.

Metered installs and services state-of-the-art machinery from highly respected manufacturers. Our service personnel are currently using a microprocessor controlled accountability system from Set-O-Matic that monitors each piece of equipment. The COIN-TRAK system tracks nine key functions, and downloads the information to a compatible system located at Metered's central office.

This advanced accountability system has unique circuitry and software that tracks paid cycles, free cycles and service cycles. It also helps us to generate a preventive maintenance schedule for each piece of equipment. The system has facilitated maximum utilization of the laundry facility, thereby enhancing customer satisfaction.

When tracking shows that the room is being used to capacity during certain hours on a given day, and under utilized during those hours on another day, we will offer specials, or lower rate incentives to stagger the use, and maintain a steady, uncongested flow of operation. This technology helps us to schedule and perform maintenance checks, repairs, or new installations during the hours of least use, so there is little or no interruption of service.

Future Cycles

I envision a high-tech future where it will be possible to check your in-home computerized service center for the availability of all building services. You will be able order your laundry use in advance, and access it via a card, or a computer code. The equipment may look very different from what we know and utilize new methods or substances that bear little or no resemblance to those in use today. The self-monitoring machines will report their performance, energy-efficiency, and maintenance needs to a centralized maintenance office.

Laundry areas are currently being designed with the lifestyles of the tenants, and the future in mind. Recently, Metered installed machines in a laundry room designed with a wall of windows separating it from a nearby exercise room. This allows tenants to keep an eye on the wash while staying in shape.

We are rapidly approaching the time when it may be necessary to have two highly specialized service teams, one for the computer-generated and managed functions, and another for installation and replacement of equipment. We continue to meet these challenges by providing on-going training programs for our staff to ensure competence on the most advanced machinery, and to keep pace with innovative maintenance procedures.

Formula for Success

Advanced machinery and access systems are important, but they won't guarantee you contract renewals. A record of annual renewals is evidence of good service over time. Superior service is the only formula for success.

As Metered continues to keep pace with new technologies, our approach to customer service remains very traditional. A good example of which is our refusal to utilize sophisticated voice mail systems or answering machines to handle customer calls.

When you call Metered you will always speak directly to a principal, a decision-maker, as part of our commitment to personal, responsive service. We believe that's the best way to do business. In this age of computers, our 46 year old tradition of personalized attention is so unique, it's actually been thought of as innovative.

In addition to our direct line, we have a beeper system so building personnel can call an 800 number to reach the service person for their location. A manager or super can beep the service person covering that geographical area and expect prompt attention without having to call the office. The maintenance and service staff are in constant communication with the central office via a radio dispatch and communication channel.

Today and in the future, a properly designed, efficiently managed, and expertly serviced laundry area can be an
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Building Management & Maintenance; Metered Appliances Inc.
Author:Orner, Leonard
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Oct 6, 1993
Words:849
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