The secret to a profitable laundry business

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Romy Apolega: rhapolega@yahoo.com

In my 46 years of experience as a Chemical Engineer in the cleaning and laundry industry, I have always been a strong believer of quality. If you can consistently provide services and products of good quality that make your customers happy (without losing money), then you’ve built a good business model.

There is an art and science to this case called Total Quality Management (TQM). TQM is a management philosophy that looks at a company as a collection of processes (marketing, sales, operations, production, finance, etc.) whose ultimate goal is to meet customer needs and the organization’s objectives.

Sadly, TQM is rarely used used in the industry.

Whether you’re an in-house launderer (hotel, restaurant, power plant, manufacturing, etc.) or an external service provider, it’s important to realize the benefits of adopting this business philosophy.

Here are some reasons why:

1. TQM is about Customer Satisfaction

TQM’s goal is to consistently meet customer needs. All functions of the business must converge and lead to this outcome.

In our industry, this compels launderers to provide services that meet these requirements:

  • Timeliness

  • Completeness

  • Whiteness

It’s not just the cleanliness of the items, but also the service that should be examined:

  • Laundry items should be delivered, properly folded (no crumpling) or hung

  • Reconciliation on losses, shortages, damages and mix-ups with the customers should also be cleared

  • Small damages and tears must be mended

  • In case of overage, these must be reported and returned

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Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

READ: 7 Considerations Before Opening Your First Laundry

2. TQM puts emphasis on Continuous Process Improvement

No laundry is perfect, but you’re at least expected to learn and enhance your laundry business’ functions to deliver more superior services and products.

TQM puts emphasis on Continuous Process Improvement. It’s the way companies make an ongoing effort to improve, either incrementally over time or via breakthrough projects at once.

Laundry companies should have “Quality Circles” — an internal group that meets regularly to discuss and improve processes and production in the company.

Quality points should be identified and are functioning. Identification of the process from pick up to delivery

Management also need to regularly revisit the company’s mission and vision. SWOT will be a practical instrument to assess and improve.

3. In TQM, everyone is involved

The top management to the line person are involved in total quality. This means that to maintain competitive advantage, members of the organization must receive regular training.

TQM is not itself a competitive advantage, but it is a tool that can lead your laundry business to differentiate yourself from competition. For laundry businesses, the concluding quality question in every TQM initiative is, “Is it really clean?”

READ NEXT: 3 common headaches in commercial laundry (and how to fix them)

If you want to know more about TQM in laundry, email me at rhapolega@yahoo.com or editor@isitcleanph.com. Follow my Facebook page and LinkedIn page for more updates on the laundry business.

7 things to consider before opening your first laundry business

When faced with a mountain of dirty laundry, people today ask themselves: Should I wash this at home or should I look for someone who can do this instead, and quicker?

Sounds familiar? There are a lot who likely choose the latter, and this is probably the reason why laundry shops in the Philippines continue popping up. It is no surprise that for the past few years, the laundry business has become one of most promising (and profitable) SME or small and medium enterprises.

If you want to set up a laundry shop and become one of the service providers in the country, here are the seven things to consider in starting your own business:

  1. PRICING STRATEGY

Strategies can either be quality-driven, price-driven or capacity-driven. Pricing that is based on quality commands a premium as you’ll put in all the needed inputs and aim for the perfect wash.

Big brands usually follow the price-driven approach, where they capitalize on their reputation to justify their price despite the low rates offered by smaller competitors.

Meanwhile, a capacity-driven strategy offers low-cost pricing which the business tries to compensate by getting more clothes washed in a single spin.

  1. WATER

Water is an essential component of the laundry process. To save on the rising cost, launderers are tempted to source from deep wells, using hard water filled with minerals that are actually bad on the cloth as it does not easily dissolve soap. Soft water, on the other hand, requires less chemicals and provides a trouble-free finish.

Launderers need to observe as well the optimal water level in each wash. Rinse can be adjusted either twice or thrice, depending on the need.

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The author during the Cleaning & Laundry Show 2019 at SMX.

  1. LABOR

Imagine that you are to build a laundry business and you don’t have an assistant to help you out. Although some shops try to lessen manpower involved in the laundry process, having an experienced employee for cashier and customer service are still essential. Employees should be accountable, responsible and are analysis-oriented.

Whether you’re a big or small laundry, expertise produces less errors and rewashes.

Payroll for your workers is also important. Pay them fairly as they work for your business.

  1. CHEMICALS

Customers judge the best detergents and fabric conditioner by looking at physical attributes, like bubbles and aroma, and also cost and price.

From an operations perspective, launderers should aim for the best wash by avoiding highly acidic solutions. Less chemicals is better. Your supplier also must provide regular technical services.

  1. EQUIPMENT

You have to know which machine you should use in running your business. Aside from the price, you also have to consider the quality (good machines have powerful motors). Remember that it is always about their efficiency, capability and durability.

Laundry shops should also have enough space for the machines. A typical set of two machines will occupy about 1 square meter. With the waiting areas and reception included, the typical shop can be between 20 to 100 sqm with a capacity of two to 10 sets of machines.

  1. DRIER & HEAT

After the wash, the launderer puts everything into the dryer. There is a certain moisture content required prior to drying. Lint removal must also be regularly done.

Drying gives out heat. And if one would like to save electricity or gas cost, the heat coming from the dryer can be reused by setting up another small room for the pre-drying.

The drying area must be well-ventilated.

  1. LOCATION

In any brick-and-mortar business, location is always key. Location must be strategic and should be near target customers. Finding the right balance of accessibility and cost (lease) for your laundry shop can make or break the business.

READ NEXT: 7 trends in commercial laundry in 2019

If you want to know more about how to succeed in the laundry business, email me at rhapolega@yahoo.com or editor@isitcleanph.com. Follow my Facebook for regular updates on the laundry business.

 

Text contribution from Isabel Magsino. Image contribution from Isabel Magsino & JM Abcede