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

7 trends shaping commercial laundry in the Philippines in 2019

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Big laundry operation. Image from Gulfnews.com

The commercial laundry industry in the Philippines over the last few years has grown immensely. Self-service laundry shops have mushroomed within our neighborhood, while big laundry companies have benefited from hotels and restaurants increasingly outsourcing their laundry operations. The laundry care business alone (fabric softener, bleach and detergents) grew by 9% to a PhP52 billion industry in 2017, according to Euromonitor International.

Here are the trends that will drive the sector this year:

 

1. New equipment that do more with less

With barely 4 in every 10 households owning a washing machine (according to Euromonitor for 2017), it’s no wonder why commercial laundry is popular. Urban dwellers not only wish to avoid paying so much for a washing machine, but they’re also looking for the convenience offered by commercial laundry — quick and quality wash.

New equipment for commercial laundry today provide sophisticated moisture content capacity and energy, labor and production efficiency. This is particularly important for big laundry companies where cost savings are critical. New equipment are also faster in washing and require less water and heat. Make sure to check these features the next time you invest in an equipment.

 

2. Water will be more valuable

Cost of good water — an essential ingredient to good laundry — has risen. Whereas laundry shops will find cheap water from deep well, hard water and water with iron, these actually harm linen more than they make them fresh anew.

With rising costs of utilities and fuel, companies are looking for practical ways and technologies that will result to cost savings, especially on water. These range from sophisticated innovations such as recycling of water to simple and practical methods such as rainwater harvesting.

 

3. Environmental compliance will be a growing issue

With the rehabilitation of Boracay and Manila Bay, laundry businesses will be looking more at environmental compliance. A pressing question among commercial laundry players today is investing on waste water treatment, which doesn’t come cheap.

Big laundry companies will also be concerned about Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD). BOD and COD should pass government regulations, otherwise there are heavy penalties for violators. The DENR also now prohibits phosphate content in waste water, thus affecting the type of chemicals laundry shops will purchase.

 

4. Less dependence on chemicals

Like how laundry technology is trying to make use of less water, it is also moving towards efficient utilization of chemicals (preferably, zero phosphate as well). This makes the resulting waste water more environment-friendly and easier to recycle.

 

5. Outsourcing laundry — and linen — will continue

Laundry in the hotel industry is a sizable operation, employing dozens of staff and incurring maintenance cost for various equipment. Recently, a number of hotels have closed their in-house laundry operations and resorted to outsourcing of even linen (to save storage cost and maximize their real estate). This will definitely continue as hospitality companies focus on their core strength (service) while outsourcing non-essential processes such as laundry operations to specialist companies.

READ NEXT: Hotel laundry: outsource or in-house?

6. Higher standards of quality

As the number of commercial laundry players increase, customers — whether retail or institutional — will look for service providers that can deliver the best quality wash and prolong linen life. Not many companies use quality management tools such as Total Quality Management (TQM), Total Plant Maintenance (TPM) and whiteness test in the commercial laundry business to ensure best-in-class services are provided. These tools will become more important to satisfy the requirements of institutions and the public.

 

7. Data analytics in laundry

Not many companies and laundry shops today collect metrics on the performance of their business and laundry operations. As competition grows, data analytics will certainly help them survive. What is the production vis-a-vis capacity? What is the peso per kilo wash load? What are the monitoring systems in place?

I have always thought laundry is an efficiency game. After collating information, we can use the Ishikawa principle or fish-bone analysis to answer important questions.

For questions, email me at rhapolega@yahoo.com or editor@isitcleanph.com

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.