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Nov, 30 2011


Getting your hands dirty is a passé. Nowadays, making a clean sweep gets a whole new connotation in the world of cleaning services industry. Bewildered? Needn't be, as it's the right time to cash in on India's cleaning services market via franchising!

DESPITE the fact that India's cleaning services industry has emerged immensely, still its gigantic share lies in a disjointed state. The market for cleaning services is on the rise, though neighbourhood players are eating the market share of well-known players by offering services at affordable prices.

Internationally, the cleaning services business is a big business. In India, the trend is catching up fast, as the economy is growing like never before. Given the substantial potential in the cleaning services market, globally renowned players seem to have done the trick by launching their India operations via franchise route.

In India, cleaning services business is not a novel concept, rather it's been going on for ages. The gaps in the industry were realised by GenNext entrepreneurs, who thought of catering services not only for household, but for corporates too. Presently, India's cleaning services industry is blossoming at a rapid pace with bigwigs dominating the market share. The fragmented industry has got a lot of potential, as corporate culture is on the rise. Subsequently, the world of franchising is also opening new boulevards for youngpreneurs, who are willing to try their hands at fresh yet money-spinning service-oriented businesses.

Dry cleaning & laundry, tank cleaning, car cleaning and janitorial services like (commercial and residential cleaning) are the concepts that are gaining momentum. Let's take a quick look on how to make a clean sweep in this industry.

Cleaners in corporate gear
Sneh Sharma, a psychiatrist, who returned from Las Vegas to Mumbai, to start a laundry-cum-dry cleaning services business has no regrets today. The laundry and dry cleaning industry is led by big shots like Laundromat, Village Laundry Service (VLS), Pressto, White Tiger, Four Seasons Dry Cleaning Company, Wardrobe and Jyothi Laboratories.

The sector has seen a transition from being traditional to contemporary. Just like global markets, India's fragmented market is too proficient in offering high-end fabric care. When asked about industry's growth, Anshul Gupta, Director, Quick Clean Pvt Ltd, said: “Indian laundry industry is over Rs 5,200 crore and totally unorganised, which has a huge space for accommodating new players like us. Further, increase in per capita income in metros and adoption of western culture, coupled with increasing nuclear families trend drives the market growth.” Today, Laundromat operates six outlets, which are a mix of company-owned and franchise stores.

Also, Sushil Mungekar, MD and CEO, Village Laundry Service, asserts: “Urban Indian population doesn't mind paying a premium price to get a good quality service. Due to rise of nuclear families/IT cities/working hubs, people like to outsource cleaning services if they are offered a consistency in quality and sustainability.” Today, VLS offers services to five star hotels, gyms, spas, hospitals and other industries etc. So, it's quite evident that organised players are giving the neighbourhood dry cleaners/dhobis a run for their money.

Automotive cleaning on a new high
As per recent figures, over 250,000 car washing units are working in NCR alone; out of them nearly 90 per cent are authorised service stations of car manufacturing companies and the rest are operated by the unorganised proprietors.  Today, consumers are increasingly turning to professional car washing, with those who wash their cars at home declining by two per cent over a decade.

As far as India is concerned, the concept of car cleaning through franchising mode is quite a new phenomenon. Given the steep rise in the volume of cars on Indian roads, opportunities galore in car washing business. It is reckoned as the next big thing that is going to take place in India where the market is highly dominated by authorised car service stations of car manufacturers and roadside garages.

The industry is projected to grow by leaps and bounds, as market players like America's 3M Car Care, Carz Spa, and Exppress Car Wash, a brainchild of Manmachine Group and Speed Car Wash, designed and developed by LIV INDIA GROUP to organise the car cleaning segment are set to scale their market presence via franchising.

On sharing his inspiration, Anckur N Sama, MD, Carz Spa, avers: “Passion for cars and its cleaning was my main inspiration. Besides, association with automobile trade from the past 16 years added fuel to the fire. Around Rs 10 lakh were invested initially to start our first centre.” Presently, Carz Spa runs 32 outlets in India.

“Today mechanised car cleaning system is already a USD 5.97 billion business in the US with over 14,414 outlets running successfully. In India, it is picking up fast,” asserts Palwinder Singh, Manager-Channel Expansion, Division, Speed Car Wash. Presently, Speed Car Wash operates one company-owned and seven franchise outlets.

Tank cleaning
After realising the potential that industry bestows, the industry leaders like Tanclean and FASTCLEAN have taken an initiative towards cleaning water tanks and reducing the water-borne diseases by offering mechanised cleaning and disinfection of water storage tanks with the help of trained technicians.

In India, the tank cleaning industry is led by Tanclean and FASTCLEAN. When asked about industry's scope, Manoj Agarwal, CEO and Founder, FASTCLEAN, said: “Cleaning industry, being a service-based industry has wide scope in India, as corporate and institutions have started outsourcing services even in tank cleaning. There is a wide gap between the demand and supply. I feel the cleaning industry in India is over Rs 1,000 crore per annum. Growing population, steep increase in infrastructure development and increase in awareness towards cleaning have worked as catalyst in this industry.”

Over 60 per cent FASTCLEAN's clientele are corporates and large government agencies. Presently, FASTCLEAN has 14 outlets, of which two are company-owned and rest are franchisee operated.

Housekeeping industry
According to reports, revenues for commercial and residential cleaning services are forecast to advance 5.3 per cent per annum to USD 62.8 billion. Today, India's commercial and residential cleaning services market stands nowhere, as compared to the global markets. Currently, the contract cleaning services is largely unorganised. As maintaining cleanliness becomes the need of the hour, there lies a substantial opportunity for cleaning service providers.

After tapping the market's pulse by conducting market-centric research, New Zealand's largest cleaning franchise Crest Commercial and Australia's Keen to Clean penetrated into the Indian market to serve the commercial space via franchising.

According to Grant McLauchlan, Managing Director, Crest Commercial Cleaning Ltd: “Cleaning, or housekeeping, as it is known in India, is worth USD 150 billion per annum, but currently it is ruled by untrained and poorly resourced contract companies. The adaptation of models as per Indian marketplace is almost complete, our Indian financial model is 98 per cent. So, we are now in a position to start our expansion programme.”

Presently, Crest Commercial Cleaning Ltd has 15 master franchisees and 350 franchisees in New Zealand alone. The brand has a master franchisee in Indian market too. On the other side, Keen to Clean operates 29 outlets in Australia and India.

Train to gain
To diminish the risk of brand dilution and maintaining services on par across all franchise centres, every franchisee is supposed to go through a rigorous training programme. Sama avers: “We have complete training module to begin with one-week training at the head office, followed by on site launch operation training. We conduct bi-annually advanced training workshops at regional level. We offer all kind of back-end support and national online marketing support through our corporate tie-ups.” In order to meet the quality standards, Brijesh Purohit, MD, Keen to Clean, says: “We conduct random audits and inspections at customer properties to ensure that our operators are meeting cleaning quality standards.”

Tackling risks
Running a service-oriented business is not everyone's cup of tea, as it's all about meeting customer's expectations. In order to deal with it, Purohit feels: “Constant training, quality assurance and mentoring is necessary to maintain the caliber of services, but this comes at a great cost and strain on the resources of the company.”

Other way is to spread the message of cleanliness through aggressive marketing campaigns. In services business, client referrals or word-of-mouth turns out as a best way to promote the brand's name. 

Scaling a new high
In order to tap market's large pie, domestic as well western players are all set to ramp up expansion via franchising. With a forecast to expand by 100 per cent in the next 12 months, McLauchlan informs: “Our model is to sell city master franchises, who will then further sell franchises in that city. Maybe 10 - 15 franchises each city. Delhi will start selling franchises in the second quarter of 2012.” With six outlets in its kitty, Gupta of Quick Clean plans to add three more by next year. While, Purohit said: “We are planning to open five more outlets by this fiscal year-end. If our franchisee pool becomes strong, we will also consider expansion in tier-II and III cities, though our current strategy is to focus on metros.”

On the other hand, Mungekar adds: “By this year-end, we are planning to open 10-12 stores in around three cities. Based on other cities we are also exploring this concept in tierII and III cities.”

Exppress Car Wash is planning to establish a nationwide chain of car wash units. Talking about expansion, BP Tyagi, Head, Exppress Car Wash, notifies: “Exppress Car Wash has started its nationwide search to appoint franchisees and targets to set up over 100 outlets by 2012 end in major and mini metro cities.”

By this year end, FASTCLEAN plans to open over 25 franchisees and targets to have presence in all cities and districts within the next three years. Whereas, Carz Spa is eyeing on only tier-II, III and IV cities. “We will open about 15 outlets by this year end. Right now, we are eyeing only metros,” informs Vishesh Nigam, National Manager, Franchising Business, 3M Car Care. Moving ahead, Speed Car Wash plans to penetrate into the Indian market by targeting all the major metros, semi-metros and small cities.

Future perfect
Driven by burgeoning corporate culture in India, the cleaning services industry is set for a vigorous growth. According to experts, the cleaning services industry is recession-proof and the need for outsourcing cleaning services has a bright future in developing countries. 

What's required?
To operate a cleaning services franchise, you don't need any prior qualification or experience. For taking up a cleaning service franchise, one must have entrepreneurial qualities, passion and willingness to take risk, an ability to market a business, a strong knowledge of local area and strong financial support.

Any catchment or residential area/ corporate hubs are apt to start a dry cleaning or laundry service

Busy streets, corner plot with no exit restrictions, near a traffic signal, shopping malls, petrol pumps, highways and industrial areas


A tank cleaning service can be started even from the garage of a house, or low-rental premises

Can be set up at high density commercial areas such as city centres, commercial office locations or large rural centres



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