Home Business/Economics How To Start A Professional Laundry/Dry Cleaning Business In Nigeria

How To Start A Professional Laundry/Dry Cleaning Business In Nigeria

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Over 200 Million Nigerians wear clothes daily, irrespective of age. 80 percent of this large population are very busy persons; some business persons, some in Government, some Students, some in Civil service, and some are naturally ajebutters.
These persons do not have time to do their own laundry. Cooking, taking care of the kids, and going to work is enough to occupy the whole time.

On the weekends when they’re finally supposed to have enough time to do their laundry, they only end up cleaning their homes, watch movies and heading out to chill with friends and relatives, while just a few really take out time to wash their dirty clothes. This large group of lazy/busy individuals in Nigeria, Africa, and every other place around the world have made the laundry/dry cleaning service business a lucrative one to venture into, since the market is always available.

You will have to agree with me that the task of washing, rinsing, drying, and ironing clothes is very tedious and time consuming that even the average house wife would consider buying a machine for this purpose. In Nigeria, the poverty level at the moment and the poor power supply rate, most homes will not be able to afford a washing machine.

STARTING A DRY CLEANING/LAUNDRY BUSINESS IN NIGERIA
Almost everyone loves the feeling of putting on neatly washed and ironed clothes, but are mostly too lazy/busy to do their laundry. This leaves an opportunity begging, who will do their laundry?
This has opened a door to several laundry/dry cleaning businesses springing up, especially in Nigeria and Africa at large.
This post on Laundry/Dry cleaning business in Nigeria is going to be a very comprehensive one, so you need to be patient when going through or you could bookmark the page so you could read up at intervals if you cannot read it all at once.
THE FOLLOWING ARE PRACTICAL STEPS/TIPS TO SETUP A LAUNDRY/DRY CLEANING BUSINESS

1. TAKE SOME LAUNDRY AND DRY CLEANING COURSES
A lot people just want to start a laundry/dry cleaning business and make quick cash without considering that laundry business is beyond just washing of clothing. Before you set out to do all the other requirement listed below, it is necessary to take some laundry/dry cleaning courses.
Attach yourself to an existing laundry/dry cleaning service provider for a short while. This will help you to gather valuable skills and information regarding the way to run your business.
You are expected to learn the following:
The different equipment and how they are operated
How to wash different type of fabrics
The chemicals and soaps for washing different fabrics 
The best temperature to iron different fabrics 
How to fold and package different fabrics 
The minimum staff strength to run a successful laundry/dry cleaning business 
The day-to-day operations involved in running a laundry/dry cleaning business. 

2. FIND A SUITABLE LOCATION
For a laundry/dry cleaning business to succeed, it must be sited in a good location. Except you intend to operate your laundry/dry cleaning service business from home, your business location shouldn’t be handled like a pinch of salt.

Below are three (3) places where you can locate your business;
1. Around a residential area, probably close to the gate of an estate, so people driving in or out can see your business and patronize your service. 

2. Beside a road motorists ply a lot, with a bold sign board advertising your service, your client base would grow quicker than that of a dry cleaner in a quiet neighbourhood.

3. Close to a relaxation spots or offices. The regular influx of people to such area will make them notice your business, and in turn, patronize your service. 

However, it is not advisable to open your business close to a competitor unless you notice such competitor has low patronage or you feel you have a competitive advantage.

3. REGISTER YOUR BUSINESS AND OBTAIN THE NECESSARY PERMITS 
Except you intend to operate your laundry/dry cleaning service business from home or start on a very small scale, you will need to register your business and obtain the necessary permits.
Register your desired business name with the corporate affairs commission {CAC}, the name your business will be known for. There are several guidelines to registering a dry cleaning/laundry business in several part of the world. In some country like USA, it can be quite a strict and rigid process, however in most African countries especially Nigeria, there are no strict conditions. It is necessary to find out the requirements in your region and ensure you abide by them to avoid unnecessary embarrassment and obstacles to your business.

4. PURCHASE THE BASIC EQUIPMENT YOU NEED TO START THIS BUSINESS
Getting a good location to setup your laundry/dry cleaning business is one thing, having the necessary equipment to provide optimal service is another. After you have secured a good place to start up, the next important step is getting the equipment and materials necessary to give your customers optimal service. Some of these include:

a. WASHING MACHINE
A washing machine is a device that is used to wash laundry. It makes the job easier, faster and more reliable. I strongly advice that you purchase a 14KG top loader washing machine. The machine can take and wash up to 40 clothes at once.
It would be worthy to note that not all clothes are thrown into the washing machine, which is why you need a professional laundry man to help in doing the separations in order to avoid damaging customer’s clothes. 

b. GOOD PRESSING IRON
For the sake of efficiency, invest in quality pressing iron and don’t forget you are handling people’s fabrics. Inefficient Iron could cause more trouble than gain by raking havoc on your customer’s cloths. Go for brand new, high quality Iron from known makers.

You need two pressing irons, a dry iron and steam iron. The dry iron is used for normal shirts while the steam iron is used for suits, wedding gowns, dinner gowns, and some other special fabrics.

c. WIDE IRONING TABLE
This is used to press the cloths after they have been dried. It is very important for your table to be wide enough, at least to give enough pressing space and convenience as you will be handling large quantity of ironing. Do not use small table that will make your work inconvenient and eventually cause you some damages.

d. BIG WASHING BASIN 
You will need many of this to soak different colours and different type of materials separately to avoid some clothes spilling colour on others. Be careful how you handle people’s fabrics so that you don’t go about paying for damages rather than making profits. Soak Jeans separately from other materials, soak whites cloths separate, and other colours too. Do not mix colours!

The Basins are also used temporarily for storing water used for washing. It’s recommended you get at least 5 big bowels. 

e. LAUNDRY DETERGENT
Cleaning is technology, you need to master it with all sense of seriousness. Good cleaning detergent will go a long way to assist you in making thorough cleaning, and that in turn will bring more customers. Do not go for just any washing soap or detergent, find out which detergents are best used by dry cleaners so you can make the right choice. You do not want to be liable for spoiling a customer clothes as a result of using the wrong detergent.

f. STAIN REMOVAL CHEMICALS.
There are different chemicals for removing cloth stain, Perclum (used for dry-cleaning suits), Ink removal, rust removal, mucor removal, oil removal and the likes. You can get these chemicals from the market close by.

g. A STANDBY GENERATOR.
A very serious business person won’t joke with this.
You know the situation of power supply in Nigeria these days, except if things changes tomorrow. If not, you will need a standby power generating set for the job. It is expected that you acquire a generator that can carry all your equipment and machines conveniently to avoid disappointing your customers.

h. PACKAGING NYLONS
The most importance service of the laundry business is good ironing and packaging. Someone can wash clothes with 100% stains free, ironing 100% but packaging 0%.
How will the customers feel? Happy or sad? You should be more refined in delivering your customers’ clothes, proper packaging is one of the ways to keep customers. If you can, customize the nylons.
There are two types of laundry nylon, the first is for folded clothes example are collar Shirts, trousers, while the second is for unfolded clothes like suit and jacket.

I. DRYER
Dryer is used for urgent service and in the next thirty minutes the cloth is dry and ready for ironing. You can acquire it if you have the finance.

j. PEGS.
This is used for pinning the clothes to the ropes that are tied to the external hangers. As small as it is, it is very important.

k. ROPE
Used for spreading clothes. The distance between both poles would determine the length of ropes to be purchased.

l. SPRAYING CAN
Spraying can is used by filling with water and spray on cloth when ironing for easy smoothing.

m. CLOTH HANGERS

This is used for hanging already washed clothes or pressed fabrics. There are some clothes that cannot be folded, for example a suit, wedding gown etc. you need to get hangers for these.
You can get this at any market close by. It is the normal hangers we use in our wardrobes.

n. CHAIRS
At least for a start, you will need 3-4 plastic chairs, one for the front desk, one for you and the last for any visitor who wishes to grab a seat for him or herself.

o. TABLE
A good potable table is required with locker attached to it for storing safe items and maybe keep items out of the reach of customer’s sight.
p. WASTE BASKET
As the name implies, it is used for storing waste items and must be disposed off daily.

q. MULTIPLE EXTENSION SOCKET
This is needed for plugging the pressing irons and other electronic gadgets.

r. WASHING TABLE AND CHAIR
For clothes that require hand washing, the washer man needs either a washing table for placing his washing materials like buckets on it for convenience sake. Not all can bend for so long. Or you could construct a chair for those who wish to sit down while doing their washing.

s. CLOTHES BASKET
This is needed for storing customer’s clothes already tagged and ready for washing. You can get it at any local market close by

OTHER NECESSARY EQUIPMENTS INCLUDES;
Tagging gun
tagging pin
tagging paper
external hanger 
Broom/packer and mopping stick
Ceiling fan
a water storage or tank
wooden shelves
buckets
towels/table cloths 

Renting a shop should be the last project when starting up a Dry-cleaning/Laundry business in order to avoid the rent already counting when you are yet to start.

5. GET HELPING HANDS
You cannot be the one washing, ironing, and at the same time packaging customers clothes. You need to employ one or two persons to help you out which leaves you to do much of supervision. This will inject efficiency to your work and ensure quick delivery of clothes to customers
6. PROMOTE YOUR LAUNDRY/DRY CLEANING SERVICE
After you’ve fully setup your business, you can proceed to promote it to attract customers by doing some of the following:
1. Putting up a large banner outside your shop.

Place a banner at the exact spot of your shop showing the location, you could place it at bus stops not too far from your office.

2. Sharing flyers in the surrounding neighbourhoods.
For a starter of this business, it is advised you share fliers concerning your Laundry/Dry-cleaning service with your phone number and business address clearly printed.

3. Promoting your business during social events organised in your locality.

4. Branding a vehicle to be used in a pick-up & drop-off service.

5. Visit offices, workplaces, corporate organizations and let them know the type of services you offer.

6. Brand your Finished Products – Have a branded packaging for every finished work you are about to deliver to your customer. Chances are that a potential customer will pick up the packaging after it has been discarded.

7. Promoting the business via social media (Facebook, Twitter,
Whatsapp etc). 

8. Bonus Services: Offering bonus services is one sure way to boost patronage to your business. Since most people like bonuses (including those who can afford to pay for the services without batting an eyelid), you could offer to wash and iron two clothes for free for every dozen of clothes a customer brings in and pay for.

9. Offer Discounts: Another method of advertising that could help grow your laundry business is offering discounts from time to time. Customers will flock to your business when they know they are likely to pay less for your services. You can start with a little discount when starting your business and increase it as your business begins to grow.

10. Move Around – Have marketers that move around neighbourhoods asking people if they need laundry services.

11. Offer unique Services – Look at what your competitors are doing and what they are not doing, and improve on what they are not doing, while doing what they are not doing.

12. Print Handbills and Business Cards – You never may know where it will get to.

13. Go the extra mile in your customer service.
Know your customers – If possible, remember their birthdays and message them. They will feel loved and will love your business.

Note: As you go about your business, make sure you don’t over charge you customers. Moderate pricing ensures continuous patronage and sustainable venture. The real money comes from rendering good laundry services at affordable prices that will make the customers come back again and again.

HERE ARE SOME TIPS THAT WILL HELP YOU RETAIN YOUR CUSTOMERS
Don’t ever get customers clothes mixed up
Home delivery – Offer to pick up dirty fabrics and return finished ones
Don’t fail to deliver before deadline. 
Offer unique Services 
Don’t overcharge your customer 
Take note of your clients preferences and apply them 
Never argue with a customer but tell them the truth! 
Treat them with utmost respect 
Go beyond business services; get to know your customers as much as they will want to know you. 
Don’t be caught arguing with your customer 
Offer bonus services and discounts 
Take responsibility for any mistake you fail to observe from your end even though it is their fault, that is why your front desk must pay close attention to all fabrics brought in for laundry. 

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