If you’re thinking of starting an ironing business, you’ve come to the right place, as it’s something I’ve done personally.
You may remember from previous articles that I’m always on the lookout for small side hustles to bring in a little extra cash. While these endeavours might not make me rich, over the course of a few months they add up considerably. A great example of this is our founder’s side gig earnings report for 2017.
I was looking for something that could provide the money to pay for my son’s music lessons. While looking for a niche in the market, I thought about things that other people really don’t like doing. The first that sprung to mind was ironing…
Starting an Ironing Business: First Things First
Ironing is not everyone’s idea of fun but I do genuinely enjoy it. You can work in front of the TV or while listening to music. You can even do it whilst entertaining your grandchildren – but please do bear in mind the safety implications of that!
You are going to need a good, high quality iron and this is where I had a head start with my own ironing business. I had actually been given one to product test a few months earlier, so this saved me an expensive initial outlay – especially as I didn’t know if the venture would be successful.
You can read about product testing here.
Using Social Media for an Ironing Business
If like me, you regularly look at local advertising pages on social media, you will notice regular requests for recommendations for people to do ironing, cleaning or alterations. I simply started by responding to those requests.
While this provided some initial test customers. I quickly began to realise that some people have a tendency to push their luck in terms of what they expect from you – especially with regard to what they are willing to pay. However, I quickly became adept at ‘ironing out’ those customers, and concentrated on those I got on with and who were not unreasonably demanding.
After finding my initial customers I set up a Facebook page advertising my services. That said, I have actually found that word of mouth recommendations have been my best source of business.
I quickly learned that with an ironing business (as with any business), you need to set ground rules (and costs), and stick to them. For example, I don’t iron bedding; It’s time consuming and I don’t feel I am able to do it to a good enough standard.
One thing you quickly realise is that people who outsource their ironing don’t consider how hard certain items are to iron as they never actually do it themselves! I’ve found the best way to deal with this is just to be honest.
If there is an item I don’t think I can do a decent job of or that I might damage, I say so. It’s far better to do this than to lose a customer.
While I’m happy to be flexible, I do have limits. I’ve realised it’s essential to speak up for oneself and not be a pushover. If there are certain days of the week you cannot work, you must make that clear from the outset and not give in. I have learnt from experience that if you do it once the customer will quickly presume that you will always do it.
As with any side gig, you shouldn’t let it take over your life and muscle into your family time.
One initial mistake I made with my ironing business was to charge too little in order to get my first customers. I then found it really hard to increase them later as I was scared of losing good clients. However, I have learnt from this now, and always set a fair price which I am happy with from the beginning. Running your own business definitely makes you tougher in this respect.
I do have my share of difficult customers. It would be fair to say that until I started this venture I really had no idea just how cheeky some customers can be. For example, I had one customer who brought his ironing wet – straight out of the washing machine – expecting me to dry it first!
Every customer is different. Some want their washing on hangers, and some want it folded in a specific (and time consuming) way. It’s important to factor in all these little extras when setting a price.
For example, if a customer brings you 50 items all inside out, and it takes you 30 seconds to put each right before you can even start, you’ll need to take that into consideration when you tell them what it’s going to cost.
It’s up to you to decide how to charge for your ironing work, but I have found that some people like to pay per basket while others prefer per item charging.
Find a Selling Point that Makes You Stand out from the Rest
I quickly realised that it helps to have a gimmick (or USP) to make you stand out, so I worked on offering a unique service.
I noticed that lots of customer baskets included school uniform, so I promoted a special offer for a week’s supply of school uniform.
Another customer asked for one off service sprucing up the family’s outfits for a wedding and this has proved a popular money spinner too.
At the moment, I’m only running my ironing business on a small scale, but there is plenty of opportunity to expand it in the future. Starting a micro business like this with very little initial outlay is a great way to see if home working is for you.
More suggested reading:
- A case study on a thriving cupcake business.
- Starting a upcycling craft business.
- A “challenging” article on whether you’re really cut out for home working.