Witnessing the enormous scope in the Indian Cleaning Industry made us intercept The Laundry Basket, In an short discussion, Co Founder Ankit Kala tells us about the brand and its future plans for expansion
1. Share with us your entrepreneurial journey, and enlighten us what intrigued you to enter the cleaning industry?
Laundry is an annoyance which everyone would want to do away with. No one wants to spend his weekend washing away dirty clothes. The laundry industry in India is currently highly unorganized with only a few players in the organized segment.
With people becoming busy day by day, they hardly find time for themselves or their loved ones. Also, with rising disposable income, consumers are willing to spend on services that were previously unheard of or were unavailable. Hailing a taxi for daily commute was not common a few years ago, however, with the introduction of radio taxi services by companies like Ola and Uber, even customers who own vehicles have now preferred to switch over to such service providers. Recognizing laundry as a major pain point for the people led us to starting The Laundry Basket.
2. Indian cleaning industry is still an untapped market. How do you plan to reach out and cover the blank spots?
The organized laundry market size in India is around Rs. 5,200 Crore as per a KPMG study and is growing at a rate of more than 30% per annum. While the organized segment is worth 5,200 Crores, the un-organized, untapped market is worth a whopping 200,000 Crores.
The masses in India are becoming aware of health and hygiene issues. They want to know how and where their garments are being washed. This gives us an opportunity to organize the segment and create a brand which people trust. It is more of the change in people‟s lifestyle which is helping us create demand and reach out to potential targets.
We want to spread awareness of the potential benefits of getting everyday chores outsourced – Convenience, Cost Saving, Time Saving, etc. People do not actually realize how much time they actually spend doing stuff which can be easily outsourced; time which can be better utilized to do something which actually makes you happy – build your business, or dance in the kitchen with your partner or maybe, just roll down a hill with your kids.
3. Various organizations are applying competitive techniques and prices to get a grip on of the industry. What do you propose and how do your services differentiate your brand from others?
Our pricing strategy is different from our competitors. Unlike a piece-wise or a kg wise rate, we charge on load basis with a minimum load of 4.5 kgs. We do not mix any of our customer’s clothes with those of others. Each machine will just have a single customer’s garments in order to ensure hygiene. Your garments, your load.
Also, we charge for steam press separately based on the number of pieces the customer wants to get ironed. Most of the time customers prefer only formals to be pressed; accordingly we charge them only for that.
4. In this era of digitalization, various e-commerce and m-commerce startups are making their way into the cleaning industry. Do you take it as healthy competition or an upcoming threat to your business? Please Elaborate
We have a blend of the offline and online model. We have physical laundromats where people can choose to come and give their garments/ DIY. There is also an option of Home Pick-Ups through the website or the mobile app. This helps us tackle other „Only App‟ based service providers while also retaining the advantages of offline models. It also helps us reach a larger and a more diverse audience. With physical stores, it also helps us build customer trust and confidence. Competition is always healthy if it is based on service quality and not on price.
5. Highlighting the water crisis in India, Do you think that the cleaning industry has a shaky future?
People will not stop washing their garments. More ever, with The Laundry Basket, it helps the society save water. Our machines consume up to 40% less water compared to domestic washing machines. They are highly water and energy efficient.
6. When did you start franchising your brand? Why did you choose the franchise route for your expansion? What has been your experience so far?
Although, it is just the beginning and it has just been close to 7 months. However, while starting out, we actually did not have a plan for the franchisee model. But over the past 7 months we have been flooded with franchisee enquiries with lot people interested in getting into this industry as a franchisee partner after observing the vacuum in this industry and believing in our ideology.
7. What are the criteria to choose the right franchise partner?
There are no criteria as such. Anyone with a basic understanding of how to run a business can be successful. Moreover, with the training and support provided by us, it becomes even easier to manage the business.
The Laundry Basket franchisee can be considered as an alternate income source for home makers who have spare time and money to invest.
8. What kind of training and business support do you provide to the franchisees? Please Elaborate
We shall be transferring all the knowledge gained by us during the 15 months of our operations.
Support shall be right from the store set-up to understanding and implementing processes at the outlet. Employee Training, Internal Controls and Cash Management shall be some of the areas of focus during training.
On the technology front, since we are also an e-commerce company, we shall also provide the entire tech support in terms of continuous Mobile App and Website up-gradation, software training and support.
In regard towards marketing, we shall be supporting franchisee with their marketing activities. Brand level and city wise marketing shall be the responsibility of the franchisor while the local area marketing needs to be looked into by the franchisee.
9. To stay ahead of growing competition, what strategy does your brand follows?
We feel the only way to stay ahead and remain there is to focus on service quality and innovate our service offerings continuously. The Laundry Basket should be known as brand which is different and apt with its targets.
10. How many outlets are you planning to open by the end of 2016? How many of these outlets will be franchise & company-owned?
We plan to set-up 6 more outlets in Bangalore by the end of 2016 and add 20 more in the next year.