Don't throw in the towel - there's help close by
Small businesses rely heavily on staff to do the dirty work: washing and drying the dishes in the kitchen, then cleaning the used tea towels.
But what if someone took care of the kitchen tidy shift at low cost and quick service.
Katy Grundy (pictured below), manager of Customised Services (CS Laundry), and her team provide this service in the Brisbane CBD and recently joined the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) as new members.
She says CS Laundry is a perfect solution for the working parents, office executives and workers stuck with their turn to wash the office tea towels, medical and dental offices, physiotherapy and massage clinics, sporting clubs and school sports teams. As per the growing demand, we have started home and office cleaning services to fulfil the various cleaning requirements.
1. Business background:
I had been working with a large commercial laundry business and I saw a gap in the market to cater for smaller business and individuals. I approached management about catering to this market and they weren’t interested in going down this road. So in 2013 armed with my business idea and 20 years’ experience working in customer service and branch start-ups, I decided to go out on my own.
I got a van and set up my company and got all my equipment in place and got started with the tea towel exchange business. Along the way as I built my client base, people started asking if I did cleaning, and I decided this was a good add on, so I started taking on a few cleaning jobs. Then my cleaning clients people would see my van and go “oh great you do laundry and ironing … can you help me with mine?” And so the basis of my business just sort of naturally expanded and evolved to include offering laundry and ironing services to private clients also.
I established that there was a need for a more holistic approach to cleaning and laundry services that provided a one-stop shop that could cater for their cleaning and laundry needs, either in the office, or at home.
Since then, the business has just grown in leaps and bounds, mostly on referrals.
2. What is the most exciting thing about your work:
I love my work because I really get a sense of achievement, from seeing people so happy and appreciative of what I am doing for them. I like seeing the sparkle in their eyes, and they look forward to me coming because they know that I am passionate about helping them. My clients tell me they love that I take such good care of my home and laundry, and that their house even feels different after I have been.
I think it’s because I do really care about them and I’m happy to help them. I clean what needs to be clean to get their home up the standard it needs to be, but I also show them how they can care for their home, how to maintain it. I teach them about stain removal, and garment care. I go over what I use and why I use it, what works and what doesn’t and why it doesn’t. I find people are really appreciating this and valuing what I do.
It’s this same attitude of being of service that underpins the tea towel and corporate laundry side of the business. I fill that gap for offices that my need only 10-20 tea towels per week and don’t want lock in contract. It’s such a basic service, yet so essential. From a workplace health and safety point of view it’s imperative to have a hygienic supply of cloths and so often the hygiene of the tea towels is dependent on the goodwill of staff to take them home and wash them when they get fed up with them being so bad.
With my service, for as little as $20, I come in, quickly and quietly each week or fortnightly, at an agreed time, exchange a fresh tub of towels for your tub of used towels – and for an additional fee I can clean your staff room and office fridge. The invoice is emailed and everyone is happy. It’s so easy. You are never without tea towels, or faced with the embarrassment of a visitor coming to your office and you can’t find a clean cloth to wash a cup for them, or disgruntled employees who are annoyed about getting stuck with the job.
3. Goals for 2016 and beyond:
My goal is to grow the tea towel service to 100 new clients in the next 12 months.
4. What are the biggest challenges facing your business today:
My biggest challenge is educating people about the tea towel laundering service and the value of outsourcing this job. Larger offices do this as a matter of course, while smaller businesses traditionally see this an extra expense. They are used to doing it themselves or expecting the office lady to do it. But the truth is staff are never happy about getting stuck with the cleaning job and if you are the business owner, generally you have got better things to do with your time.
It seems such a small detail and such a small investment, yet it makes life easier and staff happier.
5. Tips for business success:
My best advice I’ve learned in business is
- Be consistent and tenacious.
Never give up because you never know what’s around the corner. In my experience it takes time to build relationships and it’s when you least expect it that a client will turn up.
- Good customer service.
It doesn’t matter what the price point is, if you treat the customer like they are a million-dollar client, it absolutely blows them away. When you really care for the people you serve, they do feel it and pass the word around and refer you.
- Value what you do. When you value what you do, others will too.