For those of you who know me well enough or have been following my blog close enough you know that being a work-at-home mom myself and encouraging moms in their desire to find work they can do from home (see the 16 women I featured in my 2010 WAHM Summer Series) is part of who I am and what I do here online. I know I talk more about homeschooling than working from home right now since that is where I am in life. My blog is my work-at-home job and my income from it is very minimal. Homeschooling my boys is also my job, and I make no money doing that – I spend money doing that. So.
In March 2012 I published a guest post from a gal who has a laundry business and she wrote this post 6 Steps to Starting Your Own Laundry Business from Home that has been continuously one of my most viewed posts. And, I’ve received questions I can’t answer from readers looking for more information so I asked Danielle of Laundry Care (founded in Columbus, Ohio) to answer those questions.
Answers to Reader’s Questions:
Q: [From Stacy] Thanks so much for your helpful ideas, I live in a college town and am thinking of making up some flyers and putting them on windshields to see what kind of response I might get.
I lost my job, due to outsourcing, 2 yrs ago and am still trying to find full time work….thinking this could possibly turn into something for me, any suggestions would be welcomed!!
A: My first suggestion is to consider the demographics in your area and whether there is enough demand in your market to sustain the income you desire. This is a very niche industry; most households do not utilize a laundry service. If you live in New York that is a different story but most Americans do the laundry themselves. This type of home business is part-time income, ideal for someone looking to make supplemental money or someone who does not need a full time job (college student, stay at home parent, reitree, etc.). I would research your area and look for indicators that this may be a successful option for you. Ask questions like: Do I live in or near a densely populated city? Who are my potential clients? (college students, small businesses, affluent households). Are there other wash & fold services in the area? What are my competitors charging? Do I have the funds/time needed for marketing?
If you find that you do live in an area that would have demand for this service I would next place ads and see what kind of response you get. If after a month you do not get any response you either need to change your marketing strategy or reconsider this as an option.
Q: [From Melinda] Hello! Loved your article! I think this is an amazing idea!!!!!
Do you do pick up and drop off OR do clients drop their stuff off? How much do you charge? Just curious as I have noooo idea. Thanks in advance!!!
A: I suggest providing pick up & delivery. Clients utilize this service because they do not have the time or desire to do laundry themselves. This is a convenience service so your competitive advantage over a laundromat is that you are more convenient. If clients have to drop off and retrieve the laundry themselves they will most likely choose a laundromat whose prices are cheaper than yours.
To determine your price I would research competitors in the area; what are they charging? If there is no competition (lucky for you!) I would see what laundromats charge for drop off service and add fuel expenses.
Q: [From Eunice] I am looking forward about this business. My problem I don’t have the tools to work on like the Mochen. I am Stay @ Johannesburg / Soweto. Thank you for your advise.
A: The best thing about this business is that you probably already own the essential tools needed to run it: a washer/dryer, a vehicle, detergent & softener, an iron. You do not need any special equipment to launder clothing. If you were thinking of operating a large, commercial cleaner than you would need commercial washers & dryers, bulk laundry products, an assortment of pressers, etc. If you are looking to run a smaller operation from your home then you do not need the industrial washers and dryers. I have a network of moms who do this from their home with just their home appliances.
Q: [From Joel] Financial projection: give me an indication of what your stream will be, your expenditure and cash flow. I’m in south Africa.
A: It is impossible for me to give you an accurate financial projection. There are many factors that determine what gross profits you will make: market demand, competition, cost of living, cost of goods sold (water, electricity, detergent, fuel, etc.). You’ll need to research these factors anyway when you are creating your pricing.
Q: [From Rita] I love this idea and my question is, how do you charge? Is it per pound, per item, eyeball a load?
Also, how do you process the payment? If you go to their door step to pick up laundry, do you tell them right then and there how much it’s going to be and do they give you a credit card right there?
Please elaborate on how you obtain payment. Thank you and have a nice day.
A: You can charge either by the pound, by the bag or by the load. If you charge by the pound you will need a scale to weigh the laundry. I’ve seen other services charge by the load but I think this will create too much of gray area which can be lead to problems (i.e. What if a client disagrees with your idea of “a load”?).
For payment processing I use an online credit card processor. I also have a website where all new clients sign up for service. They complete a sign up form which asks for credit card information. I do not recommend accepting clothing before payment has been made.
I only accept check or credit card for payment. 95% of my clients use credit card so I strongly recommend anyone thinking of doing this to do the same. There is a plethora of credit card processors to choose from: square, paypal, etc. Most of these companies charge 3% of your charge amount so it is an expense to consider.
Have you had success starting a business from home? If you have, I’d like to hear from you. I’m interested in legitimate work-at-home stories and how-to’s that can help others start similar business from their homes, especially moms. Contact me at email@example.com for more information.