If you are looking for a business that is fairly passive (does not involve a lot of hard thinking), and allows you to keep doing your current hustle, but still provides you with a nice return on investment then starting a small laundry business could be your best bet.
In a laundry (also known as a laundrette or laundromat) you wash clothes for your clients using water with the option of using a washing machine or manual labour.
Our idea is that as an entrepreneur who simply wants to start small, you should invest in a laundromat first and nurture it gradually until it grows into a fully-fledged dry cleaning outlet.
Step One: Find A Good Location
As you know rent prices in most major cities of Kenya (and Africa in general) are too far above what a small investor can comfortably afford. Fortunately, there is a small hack to this especially if you are starting a business that relies on daily exposure to survive.
You simply need to rent a small office which will act like your pick-up and drop-off point and a larger work area which will be your back-end.
-A Small Reception Office
Find a small room in one of the busy streets and rent it (something like 5ft by 5ft). This room will mainly serve as your reception area – and this is where your customers will drop and pick their laundry.
-A Larger Work Area
Look for another less strategic area or backyard which you will be using as your work area. This is where all the work of cleaning, drying and ironing clothes will take place.
Using this simple formula (of having a small strategic front-end and a large less strategic back-end) will help you save on rent even as you maximize on exposure. You however don’t have to use this clever rule if you own the premises or if rent prices are not a cause of concern.
Step Two: Carpentry Work
Your front end will require a bit of a facelift. You will also need a closet for storing clothes both at your small office and at your work area. A good carpentry engagement will cost you about Ksh30,000 to get the job done to the best possible standards.
Step Three: Get The Machine
For a small scale venture, an ordinary front loading machine will be good enough for the job. Such a brand new machine costs Ksh50,000 and it can handle between 6Kgs and 7Kgs laundry load per wash cycle.
You will however need to replace it immediately more customers start coming in (say more than 15 customers per day) with a commercial laundry machine that costs about Ksh200,000. Apart from the washing machine you will need:
*A Dryer – Ksh22,000
*Iron Box – Ksh4,500
*Ironing Board – Ksh5,000
*Folding Board – Ksh5,000
*Detergents & Others – Ksh20,000
Where to find the machines: Most of these machines are available at your local supermarket. However, if you’re looking for heavy commercial ones then you may want to import one or link up with suppliers like Benham International located on Mombasa Road in Nairobi.
Step Four: Get Licensed
You will generally require two licenses to start. That is the single business permit and the outdoor advertising license. Both licenses are issues by the county governments. On average you should set aside an extra Ksh25,000 for these.
If you play music publicly, you will be required to have an MCSK license. For those in Nairobi County, a fire clearance certificate may also be required.
Step Five: Market Yourself Widely
In order to beat the competition you will need to differentiate yourself. For instance, if you have a small vehicle at home that you are not using, you can start offering door-to-door pickups and drop offs for your busy clients.
In addition you can capitalize on word-of-mouth, social media and poster marketing to get the word out. Remember, the quality of customer service you give can make or break your business.
How Much To Invest
In total you will need Ksh180,000 – Ksh200,000 to get started.
How Much To Expect
A well run and marketed laundrette can make you Ksh100,000 in net profit per month.
There is more to starting a laundrette than just the money. The future of this business looks bright because Africa’s middle class population is growing at a steady rate. Moreover, there is the possibility of growing this into a fully-fledged dry cleaning outlet whereby you can even partner with big hotels and institutions for bulk services.
Would you like to get more information on starting this business? Hit the comment box below and we’ll be glad to assist you.
Image Courtesy: 321 Iron