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.