Shoe laundry/ cleaning business, in spite of being a novelty startup idea, is a viable proposition, especially in the urban set up where the pace of life is really high. This, combined with the awareness of hygiene and footwear care is making this business increasingly popular. A shoe laundry or cleaning business usually involves the services of collecting shoes, getting them cleaned, repaired and polished as required, and delivering them at the client’s doorsteps. Additional services might include washing, color correction, maintenance services, footwear restoration and so on. A popular IBIS report highlights 3 most crucial factors for the Shoe Repair Industry as:
Accessibility to consumers, qualified workforce and having a loyal customer base
In the US alone, an average consumer spends 155.82 USD on laundry and cleaning supplies and the revenue of the compound cleaning manufacturing industry is estimated to be US $57,550.9 million. The global footwear industry is expected to garner US $3,71.8 billion by 2020, registering a CAGR of 5.5% during the years 2015-2020. Becoming a shoeshine professional is something that requires no rigorous training, the investment is low and one can set up the business in various locations. However, the right preparations are needed before starting a shoe laundry business. Below is a step by step approach for initiating a successful shoe laundry business. Take a look.
Niche and Demographics
Firstly, determine the kind of shoe business you intend to start and what kind of services you plan to offer your clients. Doing this will help you determine the machinery you will need and the target audience of your business. You can think of starting from one segment initially and build upon your services and machinery as and when the business picks up. Market segmentation for a shoe cleaning business can be done in the following categories:
- Gender- Males or Females
- Commerical Shoe Cleaning
- Age- All age groups
- Occupation- Business people or elite class
- Area- Primarily urban
Moreover, one can cater to one or more of the following shoe categories for his or her shoe business:
- Leather shoes
- Fabric Shoes
- Sports Shoes
Shoe laundry business a low budget business idea which can easily be started by anyone. Major budgets involved are:
- Location rent: Rs. 10K- Rs30K per month
- Machinery and supplies: Rs. 2 lakh
- Employees: Rs. 1 lakh per month
- Advertising: As per requirement
Business Plan for Shoe Laundry Business
It is important to have a business plan in place before starting your business. Before going into the shoe laundry business, write down the entire process that would go cleaning the type of shoes you intend to cater to and also how you plan to extend services to your clients. Figure out your target audience and a plan of action of how you would be promoting your business. Calculate a start-up budget and expected revenue return. There can be various ways to start this kind of business.
1. You can either start this business by owning a franchise. This is by far the safest ways, especially for beginners.
2. Else, you can start the business from home. Experience and knowledge about the shoe cleaning business are essential. Besides, sufficient space to start your operation is important too, predominantly for washing, storage and carrying out official work including delivery.
3. Another viable option is to start a business from a retail store. Depending on your budget, the size of your retail store can be determined. Alternatively, you can set up a small space for taking orders and delivery, while washing operations can be carried out remotely.
Process Involved in Shoe Cleaning
The entire shoe cleaning process involves a series of 10 to 15 steps that vary depending on the type of shoes. The common shoe cleaning process involves
Step 1. Dismantling the shoe.
Step 2. Conduct a stitch-by-stitch inspection
Step 3. Hand wash or machine wash the shoe thoroughly
Step 4. Use of motorized scrubber using a variety of solvents, solutions and mild detergents which are safe and suitable for cleaning shoes.
Step 5. Repairing services typically involve refurbishment of foam, cushion, stitching, changing shoelaces and sole for the shoe that comes for cleaning.
Step 6. Assembling the shoe.
Step 7. Deliver it back to the consumers.
Licensing is the next important step in a shoe cleaning business. Depending on the area of operation for your business, one needs to research different legal expectations that are needed to validate the shoe cleaning and repairing business. One needs to first register the company name and license his or her business. Requirements, however, vary depending on the city and state. For example, for a road-side shoe cleaning business, one needs to obtain a traveling vendor license. One must also meet with an accountant and discuss ways to manage your tax obligations and deductions.
Next, comes the insurance part. One must insure his or her business so that all the business assets are protected. It is important to cover your store and everything that is inside. Since the client’s property (shoes) is involved, one must also need property damage coverage. Also, because there are manpower and machinery involved, one must also have personal injury coverage.
Target Audience and Location
The next important thing is to determine why this type of business will be successful and to determine the type of shoe shine business you want. One way is to open up attractive looking shoe shine stands near high-end hotels or garment cleaning services. Other places where these kinds of stands can be feasible are train stations and airports. These type of businesses usually cater to business professionals or affluent individuals who are in the lookout for convenient ways to get their shoe polished or shined in the most hassle free way possible. These shoe shine stands are also conveniently located in bustling areas, city streets, barbershops, shopping malls, near office areas, schools, and other crowded places.
Alternatively, you can consider opening a drop-off or pick-up type shoe shine business. This kind of business model would require you to pick up client’s shoes, clean them at your cleaning facility and drop them off to the client on a timely basis. Ideally, a store front spot that benefits in high traffic is well suited to give you the right exposure you need in the cleaning industry. Also important is to research the neighborhood businesses so make sure that your store is not located in close proximity to your competitors.
Machinery and Supplies
The next crucial step is to procure machinery from reliable suppliers to initiate your cleaning and drying process. Establish a list of potential vendors that you can set up credit with and get what all you need for your shoe cleaning business. Moreover, customized machinery is available too in the market. Also, depending on the type of shoes, you will need cleaning solutions, as well as different kind of shoes, require a different kind of cleaning solutions. You can also set up a complete shoe laundry room in your cleaning facility equipped with every required equipment and tool. Here is a list of all the essential equipment and supplies this type of business needs:
- Washing machine
- Drying machine
- Professional shoe rest
- Shoeshine kits including curve needle-outsole stitcher, heel popper, finisher and heat lamp
- Brushes and daubers
- Comfortable and good quality shoe shine chair
- Leather protector
- Shining cloths
- Applicator brushes
Also important to keep in mind is that especially for mobile kind of businesses, supplies and equipment should be such that they are convenient to carry and easy to set up in mobile locations.
Keeping in mind that a shoe cleaning business demands a lot of direct consumer interactions and the level of customer satisfaction largely depends on the quality services offered to customers, excellent customer service needs to be of prime importance. Choose your staff who know how to engage with your customers and are courteous. Try and connect as much as possible with your customers so that positive word of mouth about your work spreads and helps you in attaining bigger tip and repeat and loyal customer base. Here is a list of employees that you might need in a shoe cleaning business:
- Professional cleaners (with in-depth experience of shoe cleaning industry)
- Front desk staff
- Delivery boys
The most important thing to do before your business is up and running in the market is to set pricing for your services. Keep in mind to set prices for each type of specialized service that you offer such as cleaning, stain removal, and spit polishing. Learn about your competitor’s pricing as well and get an idea about your own business. While it is important to set competitive prices, it is also important that the prices are comparable to appeal to more and more consumers.
Lastly, one needs to start advertising locally to inform customers about your services. Various creative ways can be used to spread the word about your business. One thing that needs to be remembered is to be consistent with your budget before choosing the right way to sell your business.
1. Place flyers in local newspapers. Also, approach shoe stores and leave these flyers with them. Pass out business cards and flyers at local airports, train stations, hotels and restaurants, typically high traffic areas which attract professional and business individuals.
2. Offer doorstep service. Collect the shoes from the client’s place and deliver them on time after executing the cleaning process.
3. Place ads in local newspapers and also in offline and online local classifieds.
4. Create a stunning website with the list of all your services in detail. You can also add a reviews section and add customers’ feedback and reviews to inform potential customers about your success quotient.
5. Add videos of your shoe cleaning process to facilitate transparency with your customers. Also, initiate online order system encouraging people to get an instant quotation of their specific requirement.
6. Moreover, you can promote your shoe laundry business across all social media platforms.
7. The hotel industry is a lucrative business opportunity that can guarantee you a reliable client base. Contact the management team of hotels and educate them about your entire service range and price module.
8. Additional tactics like posting signs around your neighborhood and leaving information on vehicle windows can fetch you great returns too.