Growing demand for laundry service – For Engr. Fred Lumabas of Kalinisan Laundry, the growth of the Philippine’s personal laundry services is proving to be a boon for the business. “People are becoming more aware kung ano ang tunay na laundry,” he said, “which in turn, increases the demand for the service.”
Starting the Business
It is advisable that one should start with a feasibility study because initial capital can run up to millions of pesos. “Make a study of whom you’re going to serve,” Lumabas suggested. “Consider, too, the availability of good quality water and your accessibility to target customers.”
With that, he related how Kalinisan Laundry started. “You see, we have this chain of hotels in Manila. We had our laundry done by one company. But the quality was not going up and up. So we did a study. In that study, we found out that it was then viable to start a laundry business. After that, I started buying second hand laundry equipment from the United States.
With five machines, we started doing our own laundry in a small place in Makati in 1985. Each machine did 600 kilos for one-and-a-half-hours. With such capacity, we started doing the laundry of other hotels, restaurants, and fitness clubs, too. Later, we also washed export garments. Nang naging expensive ang lot sa Makati, we moved to Bagong Bayan, Quezon City two years after.”
“Well, we started with second-hand washer extractors – eto ang mga machines na naglalaba, tapos nagpipiga,” he said. “Through the years, nang lumaki na ang volume ng laundry, nagging modernized na kami. We have now the most modern laundry equipment which we call the tunnel washers.
“Computer-controlled ito from loading of dirty linens hanggang sa paglabas, dried na. Ang capacity nito, one ton (1,000 kilos) per hour.”
Lumabas advised against using washing machined designed for homes. “Hindi pupuwede ang mga washing machines na intended for domestic use since maliit lang ang capacity nito. Hindi pang-commercial laundry. Not durable enough for, say, 30 kilos, 50 kilos, 100 kilos up to 600 kilos. Besides, domestic use requires neutral detergents only. Whereas, sa commercial laundry, limang chemicals ang ginagamit.”
Financing and Profitability
“If you’re starting with personal laundry, you will need a minimum of P5 million, covering investments in equipment, business area, and operating costs,” he said, adding that for institutional laundry, startup financing requires a much larger amount. Lumabas disclosed that an entrepreneur may opt for franchising. “Pag franchised na laundry business, mas liberal ang terms; meaning, hulugan for so many years.”
Although both have proven to be profitable, personal and institutional laundry services differ in pricing, he explained. “Pag institutional, mura lang ang singil pero malaki and profitability kung malaki rin ang volume.
“Unlike sa personal laundry which is high margin, pero high risk. At saka, ang mga tao merong mga needs na dapat imi-meet ng personal laundry business.
“For example, kailangan mabilis, kailangan walang damit ng iba na nakahalo . . . that’s why personal laundry charges higher.”
Before going into the business, the entrepreneur should think about being environmentally friendly. “Don’t think only about earning big profits,” Lumabas advised. “Think of your responsibility to the environment. You have to treat every liter of water you throw out.”
“In Kalinisan Laundry, we were able to put up our own water treatment plant since it was viable for us. Lahat ng pinaglabahan tini-treat naming, para pag labas sa canal, tama ang temperature, tama ang acidity, walang amoy, walang dumi, clear ang color.”
If at the start, an entrepreneur does not have enough to invest in a water treatment plant, Lumabas suggested that it would be more feasible to have the linens of restaurants and hotels contracted outside. “Mag concentrate ka na lang sa mga damit. That way, maliit lang ang water treatment na kakailanganin mo diyan.”*
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