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 self-service laundromat or starting a laundry and dry cleaning business will cost thousands and thousands of dollars in investments to set-up and operate along with fabric care and business management expertise.
But there is a way to be a laundry entrepreneur that doesn't require a huge investment and can even be done as a part-time job or side hustle. It's easier than you think.
How to Start a Laundry or Dry Cleaning Delivery Service
Everyone seems to be overextended these days, and having a bit of help with daily chores is always welcome. Key areas where a laundry delivery service would work exceptionally well are college campuses, large office complexes, and heavily populated areas.
Work Time: Varies
Total Time: Varies
Skill Level: Intermediate
What You'll Need
- Organizational skills
- Advertising and marketing ideas
- Accounting skills and software
- Liability insurance
- Scheduled time to meet customer needs
- A reliable vehicle or other modes of transportation
Establish a Service Area
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.
Develop a Relationship With a Local Cleaner
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 influx of business. Negotiate a flat rate offer for one semester of laundry (sheets, towels, bedding) from a college student.
Plan Your Schedule
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 advertise.
Determine What to Charge
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—and factor in any road tolls or parking fees you may need to pay.
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.
Don't forget to factor in your time—it's valuable!
Purchase Liability Insurance
There may 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.
Develop a Payment Policy and Agreement
You will need to have a payment policy and agreement in place before you sign-up customers. 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, social media accounts, driving directions, and special instructions. It is essential to keep meticulous records.
Be Ready for the Inevitable
The day will come when you have an emergency, must be out of town, or you are sick. This is where having a written customer policy is essential.
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. If you have a chance to plan for the days you will be unavailable, let your substitute work a day or two alone to learn the routine.
Consider starting the business with a partner who will help cover the needs of your customers.
Create a Digital Presence
Create a website and 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 every social media platform to spread the word.
Produce Marketing Materials
You'll need business cards and flyers for advertising your services. There are many inexpensive ways to create professional-looking materials with online services and graphic design software.
Ask for Help
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.