They Want You to Kiss Your Washer and Dryer Goodbye

Ray and Takiyah Wall Ray And Takiyah Wall, 41 and 35 respectively, are CEO and vice president of Got Laundry?, an on-demand laundry and dry-cleaning pickup-and-delivery service in the Philadelphia area. The couple started the business in 2009, offering a typical two-day turnaround for laundry but also next-day and same-day service. In June 2013, they handled the laundry needs of golfers at the U.S. Open. I spoke with Ray.

Q: How?d you come up with the idea?

A: I?ve been a licensed nurse, and in the process of moving through hospitals and nursing homes I landed in home-care nursing. I found that clean laundry often seemed to be lacking in the household.

Q: Startup money?

A: We started with $200, which got us some hangers and laundry bags, and our family hit the street. We have a large van because we have a large family, which was a working van during the day and also a family vehicle.

Q: What?s the biz do?

A: We have three vehicles on the street at any one time between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., except Sundays. We started with residential customers in northeast Philadelphia but now target downtown. It?s grown to residential and small businesses, which are too small for the big laundry firms.

Q: The biz model?

A: We work with Common Ground Management (a management firm that works with small and startup businesses), and they?ve helped fine-tune the model. We?re heavily targeting a particular zip code of downtown. We do the pickup, wash-and-fold and delivery with our own employees. We?ve built relationships with two public laundromats in Philadelphia. We do laundry and pay them for dry cleaning and add our markup.

Q: The value prop?

A: We believe good business grows one relationship at a time. We want our customers to make hot referrals because laundry is an issue for them and they can vouch that we?ll take care of it. We?re also eco-friendly, so if you?re environmentally conscious, we have detergents that work for you as well as high-efficiency machinery so we use less water, electricity and heat.

Q: Your clients?

A: Many are busy working-class professionals, most likely double-income households, and don?t have time for laundry. We have 100 to 200 customers per month and about 130 are recurring, 90 percent residential.

Q: What?s it cost?

A: A typical order is 20 pounds of wash-and-fold laundry, two-day service, per week. We have a 20-pound minimum at $1.89 per pound. We also do dry cleaning, which is a la carte and priced separately. Suits are $12 and shirts are $2.50. When you add in dry cleaning, an average order is around $100.

Q: Biggest challenge?

A: Logistics. Time is money. We don?t want to go back to a neighborhood the same day.

Q: How big a biz?

A: Eight employees, four of them part-time. We?ll have $200,000 to $225,000 in gross revenue this year.

(Source: TNS)