Short-Circuit the Coin Shortage

We could have seen so many shortages coming with the COVID-19 pandemic. Masks? Not surprising. Toilet paper? Well, no one wants to be caught asking if someone else has a square to spare. Disinfectants and sanitizers? Of course.


That was certainly one that not everyone could see coming or prepare for. It seemed like in only a matter of days, it went from “Everything is fine” to “Exact change or credit card, no change given!” Some places were even offerings incentives to customers to provide change, including coupons, reduced bills, and more.

Why Is the Coin Shortage Happening?

It’s not as though the coins aren’t being minted. In fact, from June through August, the U.S. Mint manufactured an average of 1.53 billion – yes, BILLION – coins per month. This was well above the 1 billion per month average throughout 2019.


The circle of progress for change is one with a number of stops in it. During the COVID pandemic, it was broken in a number of spots. The cycle starts with acceptance. Out of fear of catching the virus, many consumers and even some retailers were wary of using or accepting coins. Contactless payments prior to the pandemic were already moving towards becoming the norm, and this merely accelerated it.

Consumer confidence dropped quickly, and many change circulating activities went on pause. People weren’t going to laundromats as often. Vending machines, the backbone of the coin circulation cycle, saw massive drop-off as factories and schools shut down. No one was going out to the arcades, batting cages, or other high-population coin circulation spots.


Beyond that, vendors that collect coins were paused for a time as well. This meant that different operators could see differing outcomes – in regions that depended on cash transactions, coins would start piling up. At the same time areas that leaned toward hi-tech, cashless transactions saw coin supplies dwindling rapidly.

Banks also added to the problem. The days of stacks of boxes of rolled coin sitting in a box are long past. Like many other industries, banks run lean with coins, keeping minimal amounts on hand. They have smaller branches to offer greater convenience – but this reduces or downright eliminates coin storage possibilities. Many branches have also been sunsetting coin-counting machines as the world moves progressively towards cashless transactions. Why keep something in service that takes up room but is rarely used?

These circumstances all combined to stall coins in places where they wouldn’t circulate. This then meant they weren’t moving on to industries like vending and car washes that depend on them. They have become harder to get hold of. And unfortunately, you can’t mint your own coins.

Or can you?

Hopping on the Token Train

They are not legal tender anywhere else but your property. However, you can fight the coin shortage and give your clients a way to utilize your coin-operating machines incrementally instead of converting to card-swiping and bill-only: Tokens.

Tokens are unique, customizable units you can use in place of, or in conjunction with, coins and credit cards to offer your customers plenty of payment opportunities.

  • Increased, Immediate Sales: A sold token is an immediate sale. You are selling the token, not a specific service. It may get used for a service with greater profitability, depending on the client. Customers also tend to spend tokens more freely, as they see them as non-money. The idea of “sunk cost, may as well use it” can help improve same-visit sales, instead of coins that they can walk away with and spend elsewhere.
  • Security: Your tokens are pretty much set to your business. They are less likely to be targeted than cash, simply because they’re useless anywhere else. Not only does this mean less loss of funds, but also less headaches and a smaller likelihood of damage to equipment.
  • Cash Control: Less need to supervise your staff when it comes to cash movement and replenishment. An unfortunate thing to have to think about, but something to keep in mind nonetheless.
  • Flexibility: Easy to change the numbers of tokens sold per dollar to offer fun, interactive, and immediate marketing or promotional ideas. Maybe a Free Token Friday where you provide an extra token per dollar, or Happy Hour promotions where you offer additional tokens at set times of day.
  • Promotion and Marketing Opportunity: Tokens can be customized with the name of your wash and your logo. This makes them instantly recognizable – and an easily transferable marketing tool. When people take home extra tokens from your wash, they’ll be reminded to come back for future visits. Some may even just keep them as souvenirs!
  • Lost Token Profitability: Whether they keep one as a souvenir, or just plain lost them, you’ve already made that money. We’ve all got loose tokens from car washes and arcades hanging around – tokens that have already been paid for. Yours could go the same route, collecting dust while the money is already in your accounts, collecting interest.

Minting tokens is a great way to go – so who do you talk to in order to get tokens and the conversion kits to use them?

Beating the Coin Shortage with Hoffman Mint and American Changer

American Changer and Hoffman Mint can help in conjunction to update your car wash from change to token. They are car wash and vending veterans. American Changer was been creating token-acceptance machinery since 1988, while Hoffman Mint has been going even longer, minting tokens for over 34 years now! Located in Florida, both companies use American parts and American labor.

Hoffman offers customizable, easy-to-order tokens from a reliable, proven source. With a variety of options, including varying diameters, weights, and designs, they can help you to find a token that is unique to your carwash. This will help to prevent counterfeiting or use of another wash’s tokens at your wash.

Skip the Coin Entirely!

CryptoPay scanner means you don't have to worry about a coin shortage

Of course, another option is to simply go cashless! We wouldn’t suggest going completely cashless just yet, as many customers still love the feel of coins and tokens. However, adding cashless options to your machines is a great way to avoid any coin shortage issues now, or at any time in the future.

CryptoPay, available from Kleen-Rite, offers cash-free, secure transactions for everything from your in-bay boxes, to vacuums, to vending, and even for dog and motorcycle washes! They are flexible units with an excellent history of use across the country. By adding the CryptoPay option to your offerings, you enable ease of use and constant business, even if coins are in short supply. It has been demonstrated that, especially in the days of COVID-19, customers are leaning more and more towards the cashless option as well. With the release of CryptoPay CryptoTap, there’s even easy options for fully contactless payment

The 2020 coin shortage, just another footnote in the weirdest year ever, could actually turn into a boon for your business if managed correctly. Consider incorporating cashless and token options in addition to your coin operation, or even take the plunge and make a coin-free wash, break free from the possibility of this happening again!

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