[SUCCESS STORY] Drip & Dry Wants to Change the Way We See Laundry

A lot of lessons can be learned from the laundry industry. In this new section “Success Stories”, I will feature people, brands and businesses in the industry – many of whom are longtime friends, students and clients – to ask about their entrepreneurial journey: birth pains, challenges, growth and success.

Of the many fast-growing laundry shops in Metro Manila, Drip & Dry Professional Laundry & Cleaning Services is among those worth remembering.

Launched in 2015, this full-service laundry opened its first branch in Sta. Mesa, Manila by owners Joan Ravello and Noelle Jose while having full-time jobs during weekdays. They opened the second branch on its second year at SM Cherry Shaw and a third one just last year at One Eastwood Avenue Condominium.

Joan and Noelle were my students before and it has been incredible to witness their business grow. Is It Clean? approached them to ask five questions about their laundry and tips in making a successful venture in the business.

Describe your business/company and what is your role here?

I’m Joan Ravello, one of the managing partners of Drip & Dry Professional Laundry & Dry Cleaning Services. I’m currently overseeing the administrative roles from human resource, accounting & marketing of Drip & Dry.

How did you start in the cleaning, sanitation and laundry industry?

We started the concept of Drip & Dry way back in 2015. We saw that there was an opportunity to introduce a full-service laundry business that will provide laundry services in a more professional way. Back then, the laundry business was seen as a backyard industry. Our company decided to stand out to take it to the next level and serve better.

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Drip & Dry’s Sta. Mesa branch – its first store. Photo courtesy of Drip & Dry

What were the primary challenges you faced in the business in the early days and how did you overcome these?

The primary challenge in the laundry business is sharing your passion with your staff. Since there was a backyard impression on the laundry business, we decided to train all our employees to adopt and implement standard operating procedures. We did this together with Mr. Romeo Apolega who is well-known in the laundry industry for his contributions, helpful professional advice and training for laundry owners. We wouldn’t be confident enough to overcome our challenges without his help. Mr. Apolega was our mentor since the first day of our business operations.

What’s the No. 1 business advice that entrepreneurs and managers need to survive and succeed in the industry?

If you know you provide the best service available, do not be afraid to set the right value and price for it. Setting your price too low to compete will not only hurt your business but also the industry itself. Cost your services at the right price, but make sure to give customers the value for their money.

“We saw that there was an opportunity to introduce a full-service laundry business that will provide laundry services in a more professional way. Back then, the laundry business was seen as a backyard industry.” – Joan Ravello, Drip & Dry

What’s next for the cleaning, sanitation and laundry industry?

If you will read articles on the laundry industry, there are now a lot of innovative ways to do one’s own laundry. There is even a bicycle laundry where you do both the exercise and the chore simultaneously. On the market side, we understand that clients today are smarter thanks to technology. With all the increase of prices everywhere, they are more discriminating to where they put their hard-earned money in. Given that, I think the laundry industry should look at the business beyond just a washing-machine rental. I think we should also think of providing the service our clients deserve.

 

If you have questions on the story or about putting up a laundry business, email me at rhapolega@yahoo.com.

 

Featured image shows Drip & Dry’s Eastwood branch.

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.

Checklist: 8 factors to consider to win in the business

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Image courtesy of Abstract-living.com

Competition is winning the business game — attaining the needed sales, leading the market, comfortable edge in the sales figure, and of course, getting to be popular in the line of business.

But winning is easier said than done. Times have changed along with technology, revealing new ideas, ways of communication, and equipment. This is especially true in the hotel, restaurant, and institutional industry, even among suppliers and players in related sectors of laundry, food safety, and sanitation. There are new tools to use to pursue objectives, new services coming up, and new approaches for these industries to win old and new customers and even to maintain them.

On this regard, are we prepared in the following considerations to fulfill our objectives?

Vision/Mission – Have you been visiting your vision and mission regularly to gauge whether they are still synced with the times and objectives? Are the customers’ wants and needs still the same? Have you realized what new segments can provide better figures?

Total quality management – Is this in practice and in conjunction with total plant management?

Marketing and sales – Are these two groups well coordinated for the common goals and sales target needed? Are the new customer types, services, and products considered very well?

Operation – Will it be able to deliver the sales and marketing group efforts?  Are the commitments, terms, standards, and quality tailored fit for the customers fulfilled?

Services – After the necessary products are delivered, will the corresponding, expected after-sales service be provided on time?

Suppliers/Supplies – Have the quality standards been established to the point of reliability in all aspects?

Contracts – Different contracts are drawn with customers and suppliers, too. How about the advantages or long- and short-term  contracts? Will such contracts bring down costs, increase productivity and quality?

Pricing – After all has been said and done about quality, availability, standards, operation, and terms, pricing is established. This is the final measure in the competition game — will it result to bigger sales but lower profit or lower sales yet bigger profit? Take your pick.

What do these all mean for the hotel and restaurant industry, specifically the laundry, food safety, and housekeeping sectors?

Customers are happy with clean crisp linen and being served with quality safe food in sparkling and spotless dining wares. These are easy to be promised but they also require a lot of backroom effort to produce the quality and standards needed. All the eight issues above will have to be dealt with carefully to succeed with the competition game.

Are you performing well in all these factors? Let’s talk: rhapolega@yahoo.com or send me a tweet @isitcleanph

5 challenges hotel and restaurant professionals will face in 2016

It’s that time of the year again when we go back to our drawing boards to review the past year’s performance and look ahead to the coming year, which includes reading through predicted market trends in the industry.

Instead of trends, though, I’ll be identifying the main problems that professionals in the hotel, restaurant, and institutional industry will face. It is only when we prepare ourselves to address these challenges can we fully maximize what the market holds in 2016 in the Philippines.

Whether you’re a supplier, business owner, or manager of hotels, restaurants, and institutions, you may likely face 5 key challenges in 2016:

 

Competition

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Conrad Manila under construction, designed by WOW Singapore. Photo grabbed from wow.sg

The industry is booming in a way that sees more hotel and food players – and subsequently suppliers, too – coming in. For instance, there are 6,773 hotel rooms under construction in the Philippines, according to STR Global in February. Competition is the No. 1 concern among managers these days, and it is a challenge for companies who aim to increase sales turnover.

In the face of competition, managers must ask: Will it be price-driven wherein more innovation are introduced thereby increasing the product price? Or continue with the current system thus utilizing the old price in exchange of bigger sales turnover?

 

Quality results

Granting that sales turnover increases, how about customer complaints? Without giving enough focus on quality, you may also find the number of complaints increasing, which will be eventually bad for your business.

 

Equipment and production line

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Managing maintenance and labor costs, and mulling the question of outsourcing, must be confronted in 2016. Photo grabbed from Facebook

Along with the increase in number of new hotels and restaurants, suppliers in the outsourcing business such as laundry and linen rental are rising as well. Older properties find themselves with aging equipment in their laundry, kitchen, and housekeeping. Should these be replaced with newer, more efficient ones?

Re-layouting, retrofitting, and retooling these equipment for better services and lesser operation cost must also be considered. If you’re a hotel, you may likely be mulling about completely outsourcing laundry to save on maintenance and labor costs.

 

Labor

Labor is one of biggest expenses in the service industry, leading managers to streamline processes to manage labor costs. In 2016, reducing labor cost must support efforts to improve sales.

 

Utility Cost

The industry is heavily dependent on electricity, water, and gas; kitchen facilities and water heating are reliant on electricity or fuel, while laundry on water and electricity. These costs have been rising over the past years. Maintaining or reducing the cost with better services or products on a foreseeable higher utility price must be considered.

 

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at rhapolega@yahoo.com

How Today’s Philippine Cleaning and Sanitation Technology Came to be

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A laundry facility of Rice Hotel in Rice University, Texas, U.S. in the 60s. Photo was originally uploaded by Ricehistorycorner.com.

Have you ever wondered how dishes were cleaned and linen were washed 40 years ago?

Four decades ago when I began in the industry, there were already very few big-sized hotels, fine dining restaurants, and commercial laundries. Things were so simple for the kitchen and laundry side of the hospitality business.

The hotels and restaurants utilized good silverwares – the real silver cutlery and flatware with burnishing equipment on hand to maintain the silver’s shine and spotless standards. Of course, chemical detarnishers were very helpful too.

The smorgasbord? Hotels and restaurants used liquid alcohol as warmers for the chafing dishes.

Dishwashing machines were rare and, if they were even present, their only function was for rinsing after the dishes have gone through manual washing by the dishwashers.

Meanwhile, hotels used ordinary detergent powders for laundry. They used liquid chlorine for bleaching whites. The washers were manually-operated, belly washer type, or commonly called conventional washers, with a separate machine for extracting the water called hydro extractor.

Commercial laundry was called steam laundry since they had boilers that would produce steam for washing, drying, and flatwork ironing. They were the true steam laundries. For hotels, boilers functioned to heat water too.

Today

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Typical hotel laundry machine, which, because of the growing trend of outsourcing, is becoming less common in properties today. Photo courtesy of Alibaba.com

Technology has changed the roles of man, machine, and chemicals. Cleaning and sanitation processes evolved dramatically.

Plastic water glasses that stain fast, combi ovens, electric chafing dish, and soft ice cream machines are just few modern machines that came into the kitchen scenery.

More dishes to be cleaned and sanitized means better dishwashing machine for faster production of clean dishes per rack per minute. The standards have gone up too with the hot-wash, hot-rinse sterile dishes that need to be dried automatically after less than a minute out of the dishwashing machine. Wiping glasses to clean them is today a no-no. The cleaning process now is strictly hands-free wash to the storage until it reaches the guests’ dining tables.

The manual dishwashing cleaning and sanitizing chemicals before came in powder forms, almost all of them are now liquid, pre-measured sachet or used with the liquid chemical dosing pumps. For manual sink dishwashing, all-purpose chemicals for manual washing have to be dispensed by a proportioner that delivers the desired concentration with water.

Food safety is now the lingo for the foodservice industry, and HACCP is not anymore for the food but also into the modern laundering. These are the new technologies we now see in the kitchen. These are the new technologies we now see in the kitchen. The second part will tackle laundering.

Now, let’s turn towards the laundry and housekeeping sector.

Linen rental is creeping into the hospitality industry. The rentable linen is either owned by the linen supplier or the laundry itself. Linen rental companies utilize their owned laundries for washing or a separate laundry service provider.

We’ve introduced new linen types like the duvet that is now popularly used. New fabric blends more polyester combinations. Cheaper fabrics have become alternatives to expensive cottons.

These linens are washed in machines that are today completely automatic. Very few laundry washer extractors use manual feeding of chemicals since automatic dosing pumps or dispensers are widely utilized. Since dosages are exact, there is no hit-or-miss and there is less labor chemical feedings. Similar to kitchen chemicals, the dusty powders are now a thing of the past. In the modern laundry, we use five to six chemicals – a better way than the past but one that is also expensive.

More washing problems came up. There are new forms of food stains because of new food preparation types and sauces. For island resorts, henna tattoos are a problem. Blood stains are always around and even newer lipstick types are harder to remove. Dyes are getting prevalent not only on the linen but on the cups and drinking glasses.

Boilers are now are thing of the past in most laundries since liquefied petroleum gas has been a cost-effective source of energy for drying and ironing purposes in the commercial laundries. Automatic sheet and towel folders can conform to the fold types or standards of different hotels. Don’t forget the automatic spreader feeder before the bed sheet or flat sheets are ironed, introducing the almost hands-free system. These machines have not only lowered labor cost but are also more efficient systems. Less handling means less bacteria spread for the finished laundry.

The low temperature wash for the laundry and dishwashing machine are the banner marketing statements of the chemical suppliers. Low temperature systems means low cost in energy use.

Outside the kitchen and laundry, I will not forget the emergence of the water-less urinals and new stone floors that use less floor finishing chemicals.

What’s in store for the future? Shorter washes, automated was formulas, lower was temperatures, and safe environmental washing systems – these are the things to come.

This is a modified version of my column for Hospitality News Philippines that appeared in two parts.