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When the going gets tough, the tough get going

The upsurge of demand in the last quarter of this year seems encouraging, but most industry players are banking on a wait-and-watch strategy. Valencia Fernandes, Sub-Editor, Clean India Journal spoke with industry insiders to get better insight into their experiences, setbacks and challenges from the past two years.

An eagle eye over the industry

As the sector deals with a new set of compliance measures, there has been a rise in costs of as much as 35-40%. Coupled with the continuing pandemic, this has made some players sceptical about the current business scenario.

As work picks up, the unspoken observation is that costs are being cut, either to sustain or to survive. This is silently and adversely affecting the health of customers, and needs to be addressed before someone is pulled up by their clients or the authorities.

Adhering to rules

Additional due diligence and policies need to be set in place, to standardise regulations for the laundry industry, which is still largely unorganised. While their counterparts the world over are adhering to guidelines on the usage of environment-friendly products as well as hygiene and health factors, the Indian fraternity itself admits that it has fallen behind on keeping up with the times.

The hospitality industry, which is of pivotal importance to the laundry sector, needs to be brought up to speed on these defaulting strategies. If they fully understand the scenario and come forward to rectify the situation, the process to streamline common guidelines for all will be sped up.

GST is a common grievance

GST is another huge concern for the laundry sector, which is currently feeling let down that its request to reduce the rates have gone unheard. Just as the hotel industry has been given a favourable rate reduction from 18% to 5% adjustment in GST charges, the same ought to be applied to the laundry industry too. This adjustment in the rates will help the laundry businesses to sustain, survive and stay in the game.

How did businesses survive?

“Diversity is the need of the game”, said Sameer Deodhar, CEO, Sameer Laundromats LLP. “By diversifying into a slightly different section of our target clientele, we were able to find a way to sustain ourselves”.

Their main customers were students and faculty members from various college campuses. Since campuses were shut, this source of income was suddenly cut. They approached nearby hospitals with smaller bed capacities to fulfil their laundry requirements, and sought out nearby food and pharma companies as well.

Nakul Jain, Co-founder of The Laundry Basket too diversified beyond retail customers to offering solutions such as deep cleaning, alterations and repairs. “Like some of my peers, I too had to take tough decisions regarding closure of some outlets, reconsidering certain services and dealing with employee pay slashes”, he said.

What’s trending?

The plus side to the pandemic is that hygiene and cleanliness have become more important, and everyone has now grown to be more conscious of cleaner protocols. Automation of systems and less dependency on human interaction are trending, as are eco-friendly chemicals that can reduce costs and improve compliance with guidelines.

It is only the tough who are able to survive, and this holds true when speaking of the Indian laundry industry. These establishments have shown their resilience to adversity and found ways to cope with the situation on hand. By doing so, they have not only ensured that they have provided the best services to their customers but have also displayed great grit in handling a tough scenario.

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