Kenneth just got a job two months ago. It’s easy to wrongly assume how his laundry patronage happens. Initially, without digging deeper into the right data, most people will look at it as a status statement. This happens as a lot of new employees into executive roles engage a laundry service as soon as possible. But do we know if Kenneth is an executive, did he get the service just because he could afford it?
Still, aside from the increasing lack of time to wash clothes manually, the need to show up confidently at business meetings and compel positive feedback, making it unavoidable that normal folks like Kenneth would need the services of a qualitative and affordable laundry services provider. Hence, as more people get upwardly mobile and discerning, they would be asking more questions and making more critical decisions, not just about how they appear but how it affects their health, and even the environment too.
There is a huge gap for eco-friendly laundry services providers. Most dry cleaners use a chemical called perc (short for perchloroethylene) that research has linked to cancer and other health problems. The easiest way to avoid it would be to avoid buying clothes that require dry cleaning, including the pricey suits that we want to keep as long as possible!
If you are familiar with “Clean energy”/ “Green energy”, then you already know that harmful chemicals should be avoided wherever possible to preserve our health and the environment. This includes the chemicals that wash the clothes we wear on our bodies. Eco-friendly laundry service providers employ equipment and washing solutions that take care of such germane concerns.
Our Motivation: A Pressing Danger to our Health
Climate change is no-more a political –interest induced mantra we hear every year at the G7 meetings. These days, the weather gets hotter than usual by day and then much colder and chilling in the early mornings, than we used to know it. If this keeps up, we are all going to be confronted with sudden changes to make and even harsh decisions too. It has become a present-day reality that we have a compelling reason to make adjustments before it is too late.
Generally, a lot of us have become more conscious about the food we eat, the contents of the health and beauty products we use, and our overall responsibility for sustaining our planet’s wellbeing. However, we are often unaware of the indifference to the process of caring for our clothes and even home linens. A slew of chemicals are used in the process, both standard laundry and dry cleaning, most of which are often overlooked even though this is remarkably sensitive for our good.
The widespread use of man-made chemicals, which are also used in car cleaners, paint removers, industrial-grade solvents, and shoe polish, should not be accommodated in our clothes, on our skin, or our bedspreads.
Such chemicals, along with a suite of other synthetic and toxic ingredients, remain in the clothes long after the wash cycle and penetrate the skin undetected. Of course, this is bound to lead to adverse health effects, both short and long-term. More so, these chemicals are often disposed of poorly and go on to pollute our waterways, soil, and wildlife habitats.
Consequently, it becomes quite expedient to take a fresh and innovative approach to some of our daily chores of washing and cleaning. There is a clear need for a sustainable, environmentally-conscious business, with a mission to keep clothes clean while not relegating our health, in relation to the very planet where we live.
Starting Where the Need is Strongest
Starting with business locations that are powered using clean energy, and coupled with high-efficiency washers that save a big amount of water and electricity, use only non-toxic, biodegradable, phosphate-free detergents, making our wash and fold entirely safe for you and therefore the earth. The cleaning process must forego the quality of commercial toxic solvents, to provide the healthiest dry-cleaning services that look after you.
However, man’s basic needs are seemingly constant and only those who are able to feed themselves are able to make the necessary choices regarding the environment and even the not-so- evident challenges to their overall wellbeing.
Therefore, it would be ideal to situate an eco-friendly laundry business as close to upscale business localities, as may be within the budget of the business promoter. This way, there would be a steady stream of passers-by who would want to come around for more inquiries. More so, people generally tend to patronize laundry businesses that are close by for easy collection, when the clothes are ready.
That said, it is certain that with consistent customer awareness drive, more and more persons would be making a choice for eco-friendly laundry service, due to the apparent gains. The campaign could be as simple as handing out flyers.
Digging Deeper into the Opportunities
There are basic and not so basic decisions that must be made by anyone interested in this business, including types of equipment. One of the key ones is in choice of detergents, like Tide Purclean. But there is a piece of game-changing and major equipment to consider: High-efficiency washer (HE). The advantages are simply very remarkable as we discovered as Astra Cleaners deployed these washers across our Ikeja, Yaba & Lekki locations in Lagos.
High-efficiency washers (HE) offers a technology that helps to reduce the amount of water and energy needed to do a load of laundry. Clearly, these machines utilize to 80% less water than regularly, top-loading washers, delivering 65% energy savings. More often, High-Efficiency washers can also wash more laundry in one go than traditional machines.
Equally significant is that, they are also up to 40% larger than traditional, top-loading washing machines and therefore, can accommodate much larger loads. Consider also, that due to the fact that there are no agitators in the washing cubicle, so the wash process is gentler on your clothes, which is very important to ensure the longevity of your prized clothing. Conclusively, these machines are able to remove 45% more soil for the simple reason that they have the capacity for up to 40% more clothes, compared to regular washing machines.
High efficiency washers use less water, they’ll also require less energy to heat that water when you do warm or hot loads. To put it differently, these machines save you a lot on electricity bills, while cutting down on the carbon emission into the environment that would come with a regular washing machine.
These machines also leave clothes dryer, so you’ll cut drying time and thus energy use. Of course, all these savings of water and energy means you’ll be saving money as well. It is taken for granted that multiple rinses are typically better than a single rinse, even if a deep rinse. HE machines typically run two to four rinse cycles as opposed to the single rinse by regular washing machines.
The proposed eco-friendly Laundry service must employ all reasonable efforts to try to ensure that it maintains a high-quality service. However, customers generally make haphazard on impromptu choices regarding what to send to the commercial laundry at a particular time.
Providing customers with branded bags or plastic customers where they could drop the clothes for collection would have certain advantages including narrowing their choice of laundry services providers in terms of providing an automatic choice, that is provided that the quality of the laundry service is impressive and sustained.
Most people in this business are often wary regarding pick-ups because of the fear of debt. But that is only one way of looking at it. The advantages far out-weigh the down turns. The apparently solution would be to identify, isolate and suspend pick up services to chronic debtors while optimizing the same service to worthy customers.
Additionally, a congenial SMS sent 24 hour prior to pick up, reminding the customer to pack their clothes using the provided container would be a differential and help sustain the flow of patronage. There is another key element that will keep the customers coming back aside the neat appearance of their clothes at the time of collection.
This is the ability to maintain a short turn-around system. It could be upsetting for customers, when they have to forgo what they would prefer to wear to a particular program or event simply because it takes 4-7 days to return their clothes. There must be a conscious decision to keep improving on the pick-up washing, delivery/collection period, a process Astra Cleaners has mastered.
Using the High-efficiency washers mentioned above it is possible to provide a steady stream of same day services at a marginal cost. Who would want to have his clothes picked at the office by 9am in the morning and returned by 5pm the next day, such that he could repeat his favorite designer shirt within the same week?
Where as same day service could be available for a surcharge of 10%- 50% or so, it would be very motivating to offer free pick-up and delivery within 48 hours. Most business promoter would cringe at the thought or would want to place a huge premium on this in terms of pricing but that is not the best idea. When you consider that most people use one laundromat at any given time, until they start feeling disappointed and let down; finding a service that does a neat job and delivers early as well, would keep the customers with you until they move out of the neighborhood.
The long-term revenue which is possible when customers can’t find a better alternative is a major reason why this should be considered a vital approach in retaining existing customers while their satisfaction would encourage them to spread the word as they help grow the clientele.