The issue, Mortimer posits, is that not enough forecourt managers are thinking about the future of forecourts. Some assume that big name brand supermarkets are sure to suck up all the air and dominate local convenience and amenities. The way Robert pictures it, forecourts are missing out on a piece of the pie.
“Just look at Japan and the whole of Asia,” he says; “they’re way ahead of us. They’ve got a 7Eleven or something like it on every street corner and they’re able to sustain that because of automated vending.” Robert isn’t wrong either. CBS news reported that “a low crime rate and a craving for convenience have made Japan a Mecca for automated self-service.”
According to Statista, the number of vending machines in Japan exceeded 4.8 million in 2018. That’s around 1 vending machine to every 25 people in Japan.
“You’ve got to take notes,” Robert urges. “They’re making those petrol stations and forecourts gathering places. You can get everything in there, a coffee, a slush, get a bit of lunch and do some washing. That’s the next step for us in the UK.”
Robert admits he was always gung-ho about external laundry machines, and time has proven him right. “I was sure it would work here and now, we’ve got a fair few machines doing upwards of 40k a year - but that’s not what I sell it on. It’s the footfall. A machine doing 40k? That’s five thousand washes a year - that’s 5,000 more visits to a forecourt, and a lot of the time it’s repeat customers too. They’re gonna make a habit of spending in-store while they’re waiting for their washing.”
So what exactly is a Revolution Laundry unit? With over 600 units already installed nationwide, Robert assures it’s the best time to find out. “You’re benefitting from the brand awareness that’s already growing, but it’s still early enough to get in on it. We’re big on maintaing site integrity, so we would never want to do installs closer than two miles apart. Within a few years we could be at market saturation. By then, if your forecourt is missing one of these, I guarantee people are gonna notice. The revolution is here - you really do have to get on it before it’s too late.”