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How to Make Collaboration Work in the On-demand Laundry Model

Who knew lost socks could be a pain point?

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 30 Jun 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

When most people lose their socks in the laundry, they tell jokes about it. Christian Djaja Atmadja took much more serious action.

When some of his and his co-founders clothes were lost at third-party laundry services in Jakarta, Indonesia, the laundry management and staff did not seem to care.

“There were no standards and no guarantee. Our clothes went missing and there were no accountability shown by the laundry management. We started Ahlijasa with the goal to create standardization for laundry business,” says Atmadja, who is Ahlijasa’s chief marketing officer and a partner.

Along with a lack of accountability for missing clothes, Atmadja also wanted to solve the general hassle of having to lug all your laundry in a basket—or several—to the laundromat.

Rather than try to root out laundromats altogether, Ahlijasa tries to work with them. “We provide technology and branding solution for conventional laundromats to improve the quality of service provided and to build brand trust with the current market which has been disappointed,” Atmadja says.

Bringing laundromats into the digital age

As part of this solution, Ahlijasa operates like a traditional mobile app. Available on both Android and iOS, users can download the app and then make a request to have their laundry picked up, and later have it delivered. What may really differentiate Ahlijasa from other on-demand laundry providers, even those operating in Indonesia, is that it gives as much attention to the back-end—the providers themselves.

“We spend our effort not only giving pick-up and delivery service for our customers, but we also spend our effort on standardizing our laundry partner. So they will have a standard level of service. We enhance our laundry partners with technology and standard operating procedures to ensure quality,” he says.

It’s this part of the business that is most difficult. “The biggest challenge is to maintain the quality of service. We aim to gain more control on the supply side, [which are] conventional laundromats. We arrange a service level agreement where we can intervene with the operational process of their laundry and enhance the process with technology,” he says.

According to Atmadja, they mostly target people who are already availing of a third-party laundry service, as opposed to people who may do their own laundry in-home but may be tired of doing so. It’s easier to convince the former to switch from a laundromat to their platform.

In terms of demographic, Ahlijasa is also focusing on people living in apartments, where it may be more inconvenient to carry laundry to and from the buildings. To reach this target audience, the company has mostly relied on social media marketing, both organic and paid.

Despite Ahlijasa’s growth, Atmadja remains cautiously optimistic. “On-demand has a great potential, but you have to think about the unit of economics of your business model,” he says.