How to Start an Ironing Business
If you want to make money working from home part-time, then one way to do this is to start your own ironing business in your local area.
Like every idea, it won't work for everybody, but for those of you in the right areas, with the right contacts, transport and time, you could make money quite easily, choosing your own hours.
What Is an Ironing Service?
If you want to make money running an ironing service, then the first thing you need to do is to find out what an ironing service is and evaluate if you are able to provide the service reliably.
You should ideally have an area in your home set aside just for ironing. Child-free, pet-free, smoke-free. When you start any business you need to think about what service you are providing and run through some worst case scenarios. If you have children, they could decide to be helpful and empty all the bags out and sort them into colours for you; pets might decide a pile of freshly ironed sheets and towels is an ideal place to give birth or wee; no clients will want their clean clothes returned smelling of smoke. In addition to this, asthmatics won't be able to tolerate stray pet hairs or smoke.
Ironing Service At Your Place, Or Theirs?
So firstly, do you have the space?
If you don't have the space, or don't have the transport for pickup/delivery, then you could make money setting up an ironing service where you go to their home and do the ironing there for them. On this basis they'd be booking you for specific timeslots. You'd turn up at the time agreed and iron what they want you to iron until either their booked time is up (maybe they want you for an hour or two), or until you've reached the bottom of the pile. There will be plenty of people who see this as a better ironing service than one where they have to wait in for you to collect/drop off, or they have to deliver/collect the items from you.
Pick Up and Delivery Service and Hours of Availability
If you offer a pick up and delivery service, then you'll attract more clients. They would expect to be able to have their ironing collected and dropped off when they are at home - and as most people who want ironing doing are probably at work all day this can mean working early evenings for pickups/deliveries.
Of course, you're free to set your own terms and conditions. You could quite simply not do any pickups or deliveries and have people collect and drop off their washing at times that suit you and fit around your family. You will find less clients, but maybe you don't want to be ironing and collecting for 16 hours a day.
Insurance for an Ironing Service
Insurance will be something you have to give serious consideration to. It might be that you have an accident while ironing an item, or, you could have a client who didn't notice damage to their clothes when they gave them to you, so now they are blaming you for it. There is also the slim chance that you will get a rogue client who decides to simply blame you for damage they knew existed.
Insurance for this type of business isn't cheap though. In the early days it might be tempting to skip it, but is it worth the risk?
As you are running a business, making money, running an ironing service, your normal household insurance wouldn't cover you.
If you want to start an ironing service, then you need to look into public liability insurance - with additional cover for stock. The cover for stock will cover your customers' ironing while it is in your care. Nobody plans for an accident, but when you start an ironing service you could be collecting $000s/£000s of valuable clothes or bedding... you don't want to have to pay for that out of your own pocket if there's a mishap!
Get some insurance quotes in.
- Public Liability Insurance
If you are a craft seller, or provide other services such as ironing, cleaning or gardening to the public, then you will need to take out some form of public liability insurance..
Pricing Your Ironing Service
Pricing is key. Pricing your ironing service correctly will ensure you attract enough clients that want to use your service, at a price that makes it worthwhile for you. Time is money. If you're doing a collection/pickup service then it will take you time to do that, time which has to be factored in. In your early days you might offer a free pickup/delivery service, or you might make a token charge, but you need to be measuring your time and keeping an eye on how much you're really earning when you work.
There's no point undercutting your competition if it means you end up earning just half minimum wage per hour to do it!
Do some research on other ironing services in your area, find out how much they charge, see how they structure their charges. Sit down with all of their price lists and work out how much you can afford to charge.
You should certainly not be the cheapest - at some future point you might be looking at hiring staff to help you out, you'd need to be able to factor in paying them (and holiday pay, employers' insurances etc) from what you're earning. So spend a good few hours researching costs, competition and your needs.
Make sure yoiu've a clear ironing services price list and get some printed out - you should be able to creat an Ironing Services Price List on a business card even!
Wholesale Clear Garment Covers
One item you will overlook that you'll definitely need is Clear garment covers. You'll need to cover each garment that you iron with one of these, to prevent it getting soiled when you return clothes.
It's what the customer would expect and you could lose business simply because they found it "cheap/disrespectful" that you didn't cover their favourite dress with a cover.
You can buy wholesale discounted clear garment covers cheaply enough on ebay.
Can You Earn Much Money Ironing?
In order to create your ironing service price list, you need to think how easy or detailed you want it to be and to think about your rates. You are setting the rates, so if you're wondering if you can earn much money ironing, then the answer is that it's up to you how much you charge and many people find it VERY lucrative.
There are many ways you could price the ironing service. Ultimately, however you do it, it will on average equate to an hourly rate for you. You will know how long it takes to iron a sheet, a towel, a large dress, a small dress .... this information you can gather over time and adjust your pricing over the first year of operating.
Some ways you could price might include any or some of the following:
- A minimum charge
- A pickup/delivery charge
- A priority service, one off charge
- Price per Kg or part
- Price per rubbish/trash sack (of a specific size)
- Price per item
Discounts & Incentives
You might like to offer discounts and incentives, which might include any, none, or all of the following:
- Discount for them to deliver/collect from you
- Free hangers, garment covers
- Free laundry bag (which you might have your logo printed onto)
- Discount for certain days of the week
- Discount for a longer turnaround time being required
- First booking discount.
- Recommending a friend could give them a discount, a specific amount in cash or vouchers perhaps, or a set amount off their next bill
Turnaround Time and Priority Services
Always over deliver what you promise. Never let anybody down. This is the way to make money and build a sustainable business where your customers not only stay with you, but recommend their friends to you.
Firstly you have to think about how long it will take you to do somebody's ironing. A 48 hour turnaround time might be a good starting point, for example, but then think about how that fits in with weekends and public holidays. What if you're sick or have urgent things to do one day?
Maybe you will want to do pickups on 2 days of the week - and drop offs on a different two days. If people are picking up and collecting and you're promising a 48 hour turnaround, will you limit the pickup/drop off times they could arrive at... it all needs thinking about.
Whatever you do, don't try to over-stretch yourself and burn yourself into a frazzle trying to achieve unachievable targets you set yourself. Perhaps you could offer a 72 hour turnaround in the early days, gauging feedback you get from people as to whether this suits their needs. Be flexible where you think there's long-term gain from somebody being a good regular customer, but don't get backed into a corner by somebody turning up at your door and wanting something ironed immediately.
You can charge a premium for a Priority Service. This would simply be a shorter timescale. Say a 24 hour turnaround at an extra charge.
Equipment You Need for an Ironing Service
The equipment you will need can vary from none, if you are going to their house and doing the ironing with their ironing board and iron, all the way through to providing a full ironing service that needs you to have:
- A vehicle.
- A selection of irons, at least one backup iron.
- An ironing board - and any further attachments, such as a sleeve board.
- Hangers for the ironed clothes.
- Garment bags to put over the hangers/garments once you've ironed them.
- A good clothes rail to be able to hang up clothes.
- A method of tagging items/bags so you don't lose track of what belongs to who.
- Boxes, bags to store items both before and after you've done the ironing
You can buy ready-made Ironing Service Starter Kits.
How Much Can You Charge?
You're trying to make money, so you shouldn't underprice your service. Most people who start in business will start by pricing too low, they'll get the business in but then regret it when they are getting more money from newer clients.
Also, in most things in life, it seems that the lower the price you charge, the more troublesome your clients are going to be.
Price fairly, As a starting point, think in terms of 1.5-2x the current minimum wage as your hourly renumeration. If you're doing collection/deliveries, if you're pricing your service by the Kg, if you're pricing per item, then over time you will be able to know how these equate to an hourly rate. In the early days literally time yourself for everything. Keep a pad handy and time yourself for each batch, each Kg. You'll need these measurements to be able to be sure you're pricing correctly - and be able to have the ability to price your service any way you need to in the future.
Marketing & Advertising
Somehow you have to let people know about your ironing service. You'll have to advertise. Here are some ideas for you to consider:
Advertising online can be free and quite easy. There are many websites you can advertise on. In time you might like to think about getting yourself a small website together, or maybe even just a free one page website in the early stages. Just let people know what you do, how much it costs, how to get hold of you. Try these sites for advertising online:
- eBay Classified Ads
- Your local newspaper online classifieds
Obviously you can advertise in the usual ways offline too. Local, targetted advertising works well. I'd get some business cards made up - nothing flashy, just pop into your local printer to find out how much they'd charge, then compare that price with some online quotes (online often tend to be cheaper because they've not got a local shop to pay for and can literally just crank out printing all day long). Try some of these ideas for advertising:
- Carry your business card with you, talk to people wherever you go and ask if they would be interested, hand them a card.
- Put business cards, or postcards, in local shop windows, or the Post Office window.
- Continually look for noticeboards you can put your card into.
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