The business is a viable income and job generating venture which generates returns of over 100 percent on investment and involves little capital to start.
It is in light of this that some people have ventured into the business to render services to people. The business is a thriving one especially in the urban centres where most people do not have much time to do their washing by themselves.
Laundry and dry cleaning service is simply washing of clothing materials, ironing and proper packaging for people who need the services.
Mrs. Rose Kalu Awa, who operates a dry cleaning and laundry outfit in EFAB Estate, Abuja, said she has been in the business for the past five years and there is no looking back for her.
Her outfit, Sommy Wash Laundry and Dry Cleaning Services, though started with N13, 000 in 2008 now has a workshop in EFAB and a collection center in Utako. She said that she started with a small capital with which she bought a bucket, one pressing iron, detergent, starch, tablet soap and somebody gave her a table to use.
“I started with what they used to call bucket and wash in my house and we have now grown to the realm of using industrial machines. When I started, I used to wash my clients clothes myself and my younger brother will iron and then we will deliver to the clients,” she said.
The business has now grown from bucket and wash to having a workshop where they now use industrial machines in handling most tasks in other to meet up with customers’ demand.
“The need for machines was necessitated by the high level of patronage and we did not want to disappoint them. To satisfy our clients, manual operation could no longer help us.”
Although some see it as a business that should be left for the men folk, Mrs. Kalu said that was how people viewed it in the past, adding that most people in the business today are women. She said women will take their time in checking the clothes properly to see if there are stains or other issues, “such patience men might not have.”
She said the same attention women give in taking care of their home is replicated in the business and that is why women are the best for this kind of job.
The business which does not require much capital is a lucrative one that generates return by the day. She said the business is very lucrative, adding that there is no day there is no customer because people wear cloth everyday and they want to keep them neat.
Though most businesses are seasonal and they have their peak time or season, the business of dry cleaning is an everyday business because clothing is an essential part of people, there is no day people do not wear clothes and as they do they get dirty hence the need to engage the services of the people in charge.
“Laundry business is not a seasonal business. We get patronage every day. If you are diligent in your work you will have patronage. Put in extra time to satisfy your clients. You must be able to package the finished work well to make them attractive before delivery to your clients,” said Mrs. Kalu.
Although some of those in this business specialize on adult wears alone Mrs. Kalu said her outfit specializes in all manner of clothes wash, adult, children, male and female, even home services like home cleaning of carpets and rug and the entire environment.
The mother of two said for services such as pick and delivery, there is no extra charge and that is what stands her out among her colleagues.
“For example, if a customer calls you to pick up his cloth at home, we go and pick it without extra cost. We also deliver at no extra cost,” she said.
She has been able to cope with clients’ overbearing attitude by calling on them before the agreed day of collection to let them know that the clothes might not be fully ready or part of it may be delivered as the case may be. This she said might be due to different reasons like, if they discovered that the clothes are very dirty and will need more attention, or there are stubborn stains that needs more time.
Mrs. Kalu said though some customers are very difficult to please but it is in their best interest to just find a way of pleasing them because customers are always right. “You just have to find a way to make sure that your customers are comfortable with your services as that will help keep them in your service for a long time. You must have a very good rapport with them so that they can be with you all the time.”
With about six staff in her pay roll, the mother of two said one of the staff is in the marketing department, going out to source for clients due to the competitiveness of the business.
Just like other businesses, it is difficult to keep staff for a long time. “Do not trust such people because they might go at anytime. “I know the job myself and I do not play the boss whenever there is work to do. Anytime I discover there is much work, I put on my apron and enter the factory to work. In that case they know that madam is not lazy. I think that has been helping me a lot.”
She also said she can wash and iron all manner of clothes and there is no need to siat down when there is work to be done. But for the workers, you don’t trust them 100 percent because they can come today and disappoint you by not coming tomorrow,” she said.
Looking at the challenges facing the business in Nigeria, she said the major challenge in this business is the problem of epileptic power supply. The cost of running generator has been eating deep into her business and also affected service charge.
“For us to operate effectively and not disappoint our customers, we have to be running our machine using generator. The cost of running the generator using diesel is very expensive. We have been running the generator since morning and that is a major challenge. Without light we cannot use the washing machine, dry cleaning machine, pressing iron and drier.
Water is also seen as a major challenge because it is needed to wash the clothes. She advised the government to help them in terms of light, adding that that is the major thing in this business.
On the issue of accessing loan facility for her business, Mrs. Kalu said she was able to access loan facility from a micro-finance bank three years ago but she discovered that the interest rate was so high and that was what stopped her from going back there and she has been managing the business on her own.
Mrs. Kalu who said she has never worked under anybody had ventured into all manner of business in the past before finally settling down to this one. She advised women not to sit back at home doing nothing but to engage themselves in something reasonable in order to contribute to their family’s upkeep.
“The cost of living in Abuja is very high so for any woman to just wait till the husband brings everything home is not right. Waiting for your husband to pay school fees, electricity, water bills and other bills is not a good idea. Women are meant to be supporters. Go out and look for something to do, look for job or engage in business no matter how small,” advised Mrs. Kalu.