DH and I are looking at starting a diaper service and I am wondering if any of you out there have any experience with running one or any thoughts. I'm thinking we'll be starting out running it from our home (our laundry is upstairs, but there are old hookups in our basement where we could put new HE machines) and would maybe move it if/when it grows big enough. There isn't one at all in our area, so it seems like a really good opportunity, and since we CD and love it we love the idea of being able to bring it to other people who might not otherwise use them.
We're working on a business plan and I think have the "business" side of things under control (financing, accounting, etc., still need to look into insurance) but I'm at a loss with a lot of the other aspects. I've emailed a couple of other services in other parts of the country to see if they'd mind me asking them a few questions (figuring since we wouldn't be competition they might not mind) but haven't heard anything back. I've also looked at the RDIA website and have gotten some information there, but not a ton.
So, I'll throw some of my questions up here, maybe someone here will have some input
- Should we also be a store (at least to some extent)? Most services that I've seen online are, but we plan to offer covers, etc. as part of our service, so our customers wouldn't need to purchase them necessarily. I guess I am concerned that they all have stores because that's really where they make their money, so we would be hurting ourselves by not having one.
- Is there a reason not to use our current washing system for the service (Charlie's and Oxyclean over 3 cycles)? We plan to return the same diapers to each client so that there is no cross contamination and we don't have to use harsh chemicals
- Where should we buy our diapers wholesale? I am having a very hard time finding organic prefolds wholesale online. We use GMD at home and LOVE them, but Karen said that she doesn't sell wholesale Also, any suggestions on covers that would weather extra washing especially well? We use Blueberry and Swaddlebees at home, but I am thinking they might be a little expensive to use for the service.
- If anyone out there has a service, how long did it take you to break even?
I am sure I have more, but off the top of my head those are the ones worrying me most right now...any other ideas anyone has would be great too
TIA for your help!!
Judy wife to Brandon 7.15.06 -- Mama to Micah Rowan 12.08.08 -- EBF, babywearing, selective/delayed vax (none so far) -- expecting baby #2 in March 2012 and planning a homebirth!
As far as the store front, I have mixed feelings. It would be awesome to supply CD to the community (you could sell everything for mamas who wanted to wash at home as well.) I also picture cloth mama pads, family cloth, and unpaper towels at my store. I think having a store would really bring in the awareness of a new business. However, commercial space is generally not cheep. You'd also have to have some one be there for business hours (employees?) My idea as an alternative to a store was to become a CD advocate/teacher. Hold workshops/classes, free meetings, or demonstrations. You could also sell your services, get people comfortable using CD, and maybe send the nonbelievers home with a trail week of diapers. You could then retail everything out of your home, and maybe set up a website for customers to place orders (or call.) You'd just have to have a place in your home to store inventory.
Jaime ~ married to Chad, mommie to Elaine 03/17/08, due 02/14/11 Happy Valentines Day!
have you tested out your current washing routine on diapers that have been sitting for a week? that would be my one concern. the reason most services can get week old dirty diapers clean is that they use chemicals and/or super hot water, special detergents, and industrial strength washers and dryers.
as far as getting organic prefolds at wholesale goes, check out bummis. their covers are also pretty workhorse.
*mama to c 2/2000, v 2/2004, p 9/2006, and h 12/2012*
one of the mamas behind BeanTreeBaby.com ...Gear for Growing Families!
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