CHENNAI: Gone are the days when you had to sit with your dirty clothes and spend hours doing your own laundry. In an urban landscape where time rules all, laundromats that provide pick up and drop off services are the new heroes in town. All you have to do is call, text or WhatsApp the launderettes and they arrive at your doorstep. And some even have their own mobile applications. Sounds cool doesn’t it?
Talking to Suchitra Nair, founder Laundr O Room, Chennai’s first self-service launderette, we find out how the market for door-to-door services have expanded. “When we started in 2012, it was all about self-service. The customers could do their own laundry in approximately 60 minutes. But as the requirements and expectations of customers started growing, door-to-door services were hugely sought-after,” shares the entrepreneur.
The laundry is washed and folded within 24 hours, pressed if required and delivered to your home too. Well, who wouldn’t say no to that? “I think this is a way of making our life easier and more efficient. Clothes feel fresh, have a fragrance and are ready to use,” she explains.
Tariff for home delivery services range from `199 and above depending on the number of clothes (in kg), pressing charges and type of wash preferred by the customer. But laundromat owners say that price doesn’t matter when the final product is good.
The core team at Wash Door, Velachery says, “For a family of four, with the cheap laundry prices and good quality washes, you can let the professionals take care of your laundry woes at just `2,000 per month, which is more efficient or equal to the cost of washing at home.” With about 90-95% of customers preferring these instant services, the extra time enables them to indulge in something more productive. “Would you not prefer to get away with your family on weekends and let someone else worry about your dirty clothes at such low prices?” asks Rizwan, one of the co-founders of Wash Door.
Laundrettes have broken the stereotype of being a service that only white-collared professional can afford. “Until this year, Chennai’s organised laundry service’s had their rates so high (`25-30 per shirt) that it was accessible only to white-collared professionals. But the trend has changed. With lower rates, it has opened up the market and made it more affordable to others too,” shares the team at Wash Door.
A significant number of elderly people are also subscribing for the service opines Karthick Parthasarathy, COO, Laundry Boy. “Initially, we assumed this service would be well-received only by the white-collar professionals, nuclear families and bachelors. But we realized that there are regular families and elderly people who opt for such services,” he says.
With great demand comes great responsibility and there are challenges, of course. From delivering within 48 hours, mapping locations, providing quality service at the assigned rates and making customers understand the concept…issues are aplenty. “Awareness is the main challenge. But people are gradually understanding the concept and technology has made it easier,” says Suchitra.
From receiving an order, tracking and delivering, the service is primarily technology-based.
Technology is the only way forward to keep up with the demand and pace, and not even heavy rains can affect their services, they claim! “The only challenge we face during such situations is transportation. For instance, the recent rains had hindered our delivery since the roads were blocked due to water stagnation,” says Karthick.
The demand for laundry service has seen a 30-40% growth in the past few years in metros like Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, which has attracted the investors. Talking about the primary objective of such services from the viewpoint of customers, Karthick adds, “Based on the growth of this industry over the last few years, it is expected to drastically pick up pace. The primary objective is to make life easier for those with busy lives.”
For details, call Wash Door 095004 84448, Laundry Boy 093666 92666 and Laundr o Room 044 6460 1007
No Damage to Local Dhobis
- With launderettes entering the market, the business of regular dhobis or washermen are not affected
- Considering the fact that there isn’t enough consumer awareness. There are customers who still rely on their dhobiwallah for services
- These laundrettes are backed by technology, right from taking orders to the delivery
- The demand for laundry service has seen a 30-40% growth in the past few years in metros
- Laundromats claim that they offer services at nearly the cost of using a machine at home