Before starting Spotless Wasche, Anil Kumar worked in the IT industry for close to 15 years, handling important system integration projects for multiple clients. He subsequently thought of launching his own business and started exploring a number of franchise business models. However, none of the existing models worked for him, most of them imposing a number of restrictive terms and conditions. After discovering the huge potential in the field, he decided to start his own laundry and dry-cleaning business.
Founded in 2012, Spotless Wasche offers laundry and dry-cleaning services through its outlets in South Delhi. Placing technology at its center, the company has equipped its stores with modern American and Italian machines, providing a gentle, eco-friendly treatment to laundry. Spotless Wasche combines quality with speed, delivering washed and dry-cleaned clothes within 24 hours through its express service.
The company has a multi-platform model for managing bookings – customers can visit its stores to place their order, ring the call center or book an appointment on the website. Customers can also make a visit to one of the stores and watch their laundry get cleaned by Spotless Wasche professionals. The company also offers coin-operated machines for customers who wish to take care of their laundry by themselves.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
Looking at the frenzied pace of modern lifestyles around us, we discovered a huge potential for on-demand laundry and dry-cleaning services. Expensive washing machines and a lack of quality neighborhood dhobi services meant there was a ready market for high-quality and speedy laundry services. And so we decided to cater to this segment, launching our outlets equipped with hi-tech washing machines and systems in South Delhi.
How do you make money?
We charge customers for laundry and dry-cleaning on a per-item basis. Our prices start at as low as INR 70, making us an extremely affordable option for not just working professionals but also students. We are able to maximize output and efficiency by employing qualified professionals who work as a team. This helps us process a high volume of clothes and offer our services at a competitive price while keeping margins sustainable.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
Just after a few months of us starting this business, a number of startups in the space cropped up. Because they were well-funded, they could offer similar services at a lower price, thus diverting our customers. But since we were offering the best quality with timely delivery and transparency in the entire cleaning process, customers came back to us after having faced quality, timely delivery, and accountability issues elsewhere. They are now regular customers of Spotless Wasche since they trust us and appreciate the superior value-for-money they get with us.
We also initially faced a lack of suitable technology to manage orders. Given the emphasis on technology, this was an especially critical issue. To resolve this, we built a software in-house for a seamless order management experience. Initial plans of a rental space were also eventually replaced by a pick-and-delivery model since rentals proved to be costly.
How did you get your first customer?
There were no laundry services available in the area we opened our first outlet. In fact, people were not even familiar with the concept of outsourcing laundry cleaning. So before inaugurating our store, we distributed leaflets announcing our launch, asking people to leave a missed call for a free wash of their first lot of laundry. On the opening day, people started turning up with their clothes to get them cleaned at no cost.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
We use social media, Google, and other search engines to advertise ourselves. On some occasions, we also offer discounts and other freebies.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Our focus on speed and quality ensure customer satisfaction and delivery of clothes just when customers need them, with our express service especially being a hit with time-constrained professionals and students. Because the industry has been largely unorganized, several customers faced quality issues in the past. To resolve this lack of trust, we offer complete transparency, allowing our customers to walk into our wash units and see how their clothes are being tackled. This has helped us build customer loyalty over the years.
Customers have also faced issues with their designer wear with delicate trims and embroidery not being handled carefully by laundry outlets. We resolve this by sorting clothes into different categories and treating them accordingly using mild, eco-friendly chemicals.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Our most satisfying moments are when we receive honest appreciation from our customers for our services. Sometimes, a customer needs their laundry urgently dry-cleaned because they have a flight to catch, a wedding to attend or an important job interview. We try our best to serve them and feel extremely satisfied after delivering their clothes on time.
We received one of the best reviews from an expat client, who wrote to us saying,
“Everything works brilliantly, the service is super reliable, and everybody is friendly and exceptionally competent – from pick up/delivery to the actual washing and cleaning of course. Above all, you are managing to keep prices at such a level that one does not even have to think twice. I very much like the SMS notifications and the only room for improvement would be – in my view – if I was able to SMS or WhatsApp back and forth for bookings.”
After receiving this feedback, we started accepting bookings over WhatsApp.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
We are currently servicing South Delhi and plan to expand into the entire Delhi-NCR area through franchisee outlets in the near future. We are also looking at expansion into other cities through franchisee outlets.
Based on your observations/trends in the industry, any advice you’d like to give to budding entrepreneurs?
In the last few years, a number of startups in this area have started operations. However, they’ve been shutting shop at the same speed they started it. Providing quality laundry services is a tough task since it requires labor management, an in-depth knowledge for processing clothes, customer handling, and timely delivery. We suggest new startups to invest in thorough research and build a robust infrastructure before starting to serve customers.