When most of us picture starting our own laundry business, we may envision rows upon rows of commercial washers and dryers with dozens of employees efficiently loading, unloading, drying and folding laundry in a laundromat. Building or developing a laundromat or starting a laundry or dry cleaning business, of course, will cost thousands and thousands of dollars in investments to set-up and operate.
Not to mention the fabric care and business management expertise needed.
But there are several other ways to be a laundry entrepreneur that don't require huge investments and can even be done as a part-time job or side hustle. It's easier than you think. Here is a way to get your start in the laundry business by developing a laundry delivery service.
Start a Laundry or Dry Cleaning Pick-up and Delivery Service
Everyone seems to be over-extended these days and having a bit of help with daily chores is always welcome. Establishing a laundry pick-up and delivery service takes only a bit of organization, advertising, liability insurance, time and a reliable vehicle or mode of transportation. Key areas where a laundry delivery service would work especially well are college campuses, large office complexes and heavily populated areas.
To make it even more successful, an entrepreneur should establish a relationship with a neighborhood commercial laundry/dry cleaner which might offer a discount for the regular supply of business; or perhaps offer a flat rate for one semester of laundry (sheets, towels, bedding) from a college student.
How to Begin Your Plan
Start by determining your service area. Do your homework and look for areas within your city that offer the most potential for business. By doing some research online, you can find population statistics, large employers in your area and locations of commercial laundries and dry cleaners.
Plan your schedule and availability especially if this will be a part-time job. You should establish your different routes and areas before beginning to advertising. Then, create a website, business cards or flyers to advertise your services. There are many inexpensive ways to create professional-looking materials with online services and graphic design software.
You should also consider developing an app for customers to use and a software tracking system to make sure you keep everything running smoothly. Since you are selling a service, always consider the customer experience first and make everything as simple as possible.
Take advantage of free local business development services in your area that can give you great advice and even offer skills to help you get started. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and SCORE offer great FREE business advice and mentoring.
What Should I Charge for Laundry Services?
When planning what to charge for your laundry services, you want to not only cover the cost of your gasoline and expenses, but make some money. But at the same time, you need to charge a fair and competitive price to attract and keep customers. Begin by establishing the cost of operating your vehicle per mile - remember gas, oil, tires, routine maintenance.
Factor in any road tolls or parking fees you may need to pay. Factor in your time - it's valuable! If you plan to hire others to assist you, they will probably expect a competitive hourly wage. Once you have all of the expenses factored, you can then establish a flat fee per pick-up and delivery or charge by the mile from each customer's location.
You will need to have a payment policy in place and and agreement as you sign-up each customer. Set a policy on pre-payment, collection days, holidays, delays due to weather. Spell out everything in writing and there will be fewer surprises.
Each agreement should be entered into an easy to access computer program with the customer's personal information. Contact information is vital so get phone numbers, e-mails, driving directions and special instructions.
It is essential to keep meticulous records.
When the Inevitable Happens
The day will come when you have an emergency. You must be out of town or you are sick. Have a backup plan in place so that your company is dependable. Train another person to know your route and what they need to do. This is where having a written policy is essential. If you have a chance to plan ahead for the days you will be unavailable, let your substitute work a day or two alone to learn the routine. Perhaps starting the business with a partner from the start will cover the needs of your customers.
There may also be a day when clothes are lost or damaged. This is why it is important to have a liability insurance policy in place to cover your expenses. Consult an insurance expert to find a policy that fits your budget.