SME Story: Interview with Rami Shaar, CEO of Washmen (ShoeCare)
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SME Story: Interview with Rami Shaar, CEO of Washmen (ShoeCare)

SME Story: Interview with Rami Shaar, CEO of Washmen (ShoeCare)

When sourcing new talent, it is essential that we leverage their skills and readjust their mentality to the way we work

Gulf Business

What inspired you to start ShoeCare as a vertical?
Considering the primary business offering of Washmen is laundry, ShoeCare is a natural complement to our customer base. Expansion into the category of shoes has been on our mind for a few years, but the launch had to wait until we found highly skilled craftsmanship, which is not readily available in the market.

The introduction was originally scheduled before the Covid-19 pandemic which was further delayed as the hit impacted us, just like it struck other businesses.

The launch required us to be in a better position financially and consider expanding the scope post recovery. Our plans to expand are finally surfacing after we successfully jumped back with twice the growth since the pre-pandemic days to extend the best quality and convenience post ShoeCare’s R&D phase of almost a year.

What are some of the challenges you faced when starting off?
The biggest challenge was finding the right talent as ShoeCare utilises highly-skilled labour. When sourcing new talent, it is essential that we leverage their skills and readjust their mentality to the way we work and the value propositions that give us an edge.

Since we’re just starting off, it was essential to introduce ShoeCare at a competitive pricing and only focus on volumes during the initial phase. When you play the volume game, more often than not, it’s not sustainable and one can only find opportunities to make it financially sustainable later down the road.

Hence, a significant challenge was also to have the financial means to be able to absorb losses.

Give us an overview of your operations.
Our operations have been streamlined to simplify the customer experience from start to finish. The seamless journey begins with a free download of our app, then placing an order and leaving the Washmen bags with your laundry and shoes at the door.

Bags have been categorised into different colours for various services such as press only, wash and fold, clean and press, HomeCare and ShoeCare.

Once picked up by our drivers, the bags are taken to the facility and segregated for different operations with the use of high-tech machinery where each is given the care it needs – right from washing temperatures to following the instructions given on the care label.

Before leaving the facility, every order is still passed through a Washmen Quality Check.

In the case of ShoeCare, our team of experts assess the shoes overnight to evaluate the requirements and discuss the scope of work with the customer the next day.

Depending on the work required, it will be directed to the right workstation, ranging from a stain cleaning station, hand washing station, to a suede and leather cleaning station and also the restoration stations where we have craftsmanship of colour works and other complex processes.

What is unique about this concept?
What’s unique about ShoeCare is our transparent pricing, which is not a general trend seen in the industry. Our indications on pricing are very reasonable and clear, leaving no reason for customers to turn around the counter and negotiate. We also offer same day pickup and a turnaround as quick as three days.

What are your future plans?
Washmen is set for some exciting growth plans since our current growth has been much better than expected. We were quite conservative with our projections but with the very strong demand that we’re witnessing internally, we will soon see the external conversion.

We have also accelerated our plans to open up a dedicated facility this year. Construction of a 10,000 sq ft facility is ongoing for ShoeCare which will later be explored for other categories of accessories as well.

Read: SME Story: Interview with Kate Brunette-Sireteanu, co-founder of Peace of Mind Products

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