Wed | Apr 1, 2020

Growth & Jobs | Creative business idea could rake in big bucks

Published:Tuesday | February 27, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Pilar Rodriques, founder and manager of Alma's Integrated Cleaning Solutions helps her client Rodney Spence to adjust this exercise machine.
Pilar Rodriques, (centre) with members of her staff Tsahay Carnagie, (right) and Keneisha Camthers at work.

Though she did well as a banker for more than 18 years, Pilar Rodriques knew that she was destined to start her own business, however, she wanted something different.

It was then that she thought of establishing a laundromat and gym combo. In other words, while you wait for your clothes to be washed, you have the luxury of utilising the exercise machines to keep in shape. This new concept which combines health and cleaning is Alma's Integrated Cleaning Solutions based in Old Harbour, St Catherine.

She admitted that more persons are owners of washing machines, but indicated that the service is still needed and has the potential to contribute significantly to the country's economy.

"I was looking around at options to start my own business. I saw this concept in Europe where you have laundromats and you are able to do other things. I wasn't sure I wanted the cafe, what I wanted was a space where persons could balance their lives and do more to live healthily," she said.

"It's been really good," Rodriques said. "I think I am fulfilling my purpose. My customers are persons who work six days of the week or they are self-employed. They are mostly males, especially where the laundry is concerned.

"For the cleaning, the Christmas season was overwhelming. We had bookings back-to-back. That was really awesome to know that we had just started and persons were calling," she explained.

In highlighting the lessons she has learnt, the business owner said that building trust was a huge factor to success.

"... As it relates to the cleaning industry, I think the trust with your clients is another factor. It's a personal thing to be doing somebody's laundry and going into their homes, so you really have to position yourself in such a way where they think they can trust you and, of course, to deliver and do an excellent job."

Want to do it yourself? You can

"I'm targeting persons who don't have the time to take care of their cleaning or their laundry. My plan is to create an environment where you can do it yourself as well. I did get that feedback from one customer, that I should create options for persons who would want to do it themselves, so that's my next step," Pilar Rodriques said of her laundromat/workout facility.

"There are just two main suppliers in Jamaica, so sourcing the commercial machines is a challenge. I have decided that I would do it myself from overseas. Ideally, you would want to support local businesses."

She also noted that the tight business space and constraints continued to create challenges for business owners, but said that she envisions huge success for her organisation.