Just a few years back, like a whirlwind, he came and took town by storm. On signages and billboards; in publications’ advert slots; on any vantage structure or building; on web pages, vehicles…and just name it, around FESTAC Town, the eyes behold one thing: the CleanAce Brand. Today, this brand sits comfortably among the best laundry and drycleaning business in the country.
The ENVOY caught up with the CEO of CleanAce at the company’s Head office, Maryland, and the first thing that struck us about CleanAce Company is the lobby. It reminded one of a 5 Star Hotel. After speaking extensively during the interview session, we were conducted round the state-of-the-art laundry factory. It is obvious that the company recognizes the Power of First Impression. That also connotes a business that is customer focused.
Meet Mr. Adebayo Enibukun, the man who brought innovation, respect, quality and of course, profitability to the laundry and dry-cleaning business in Nigeria. His vision, passion, creativity and tenacity stands him out as one of the most respected young entrepreneurs of our time, making him earn the nomination for the number 1 spot on the top 7 entrepreneurs of our environs. Enjoy the session… By Tayo Faloye
Having been nominated as one of the top 7 entrepreneurs of Festac and its environs. It is proper to let the public know more about you. Please introduce yourself.
I am Eniibukunoluwa Adebayo, Founder & CEO of CleanAce. I am a graduate of Economics have been in the Fabricare Industry for over 17 years and worked or have consulted extensively for different companies and establishments like the Eko Hotel & Suites (Laundry Department) and the prestigious Garment Care Limited where I was Head of Operations/ Admin for 4years before starting CleanAce. I am married with two children.
Why did you decide to tow the entrepreneurial route instead of the white collar path?
It is all about my approach and philosophy of life. As a child, I have always had the dream of being very productive and successful. This dream has stayed with me through my young adult years and until now. I started out like most other young people, with paid employment, working for other people. But, as it has been proven over time, I discovered that it is tough to achieve my objective working for anybody. So, I decided to venture into my area of passion, which is Laundry and Drycleaning. And what a blast it had been! From our little beginning and support received from friends and well wishers, we have succeeded in growing the brand to what it is at the moment. And still the best is yet to come!
Why dry-cleaning business?
Basically, I am from a family with a history in Dry-cleaning. The CleanAce story started with my grandfather, who worked as a washerman for the European Railway expatriate workers. Later, my late father (a renowned Chartered Accountant) picked up on this interest and took it further by the establishment of a fully automated laundry outfit. This provided me the first opportunity to be involved in the business and generally sparked-off my interest in Drycleaning.
What are the challenges you have faced, that almost made you give up on your dreams?
Initially, as a family business, we had a lot of challenges and I tried helping my father find a way out of them but he kept saying “when you have your own business, you can put all those things to play and we can see the result.” Then, I started nursing the ambition to own my own Drycleaning outfit. After putting my ideas together, there was no fund to get started with. My cousin came along and said she wanted to start her own business, I took her to my father’s place and told her the things he was not doing right and things he could add or improve on. So, she put all those elements together and started out her own business. After I left the university, I was privileged to work for her for 4 years before starting the CleanAce Brand.
What stands CleanAce out from other drycleaning businesses?
CleanAce was not just an accident! It was borne out of a desire to make a difference-both for ourselves and for our generation. Our Vision is ‘To be a responsible, one-stop-shop, constantly re-defining service standard while providing world-class fabricare and ancillary solutions at competitive prices’ At CleanAce, we seek to provide exceptional service, meeting several needs at one location, at very affordable prices. Our Unique Selling Points (USP) are speed, quality, professional service and added on service. CleanAce is the only Drycleaner that offers, as a standard service, 24 hours delivery at no extra cost, and possibly same day service if garments are received before 11am. We employ the very latest technology, equipments and consumables, available in our industry to deliver top class quality of work to our esteemed customers. We pay particular attention to the training of all our personnel- whether customer facing or not. This is in bid to ensure PERFECT service. That is, Polite, Efficient, Respectful, Friendly, Enthusiastic, Cheerful, Timely. Our pricing is such that we deliver top value for every kobo spent with us. In addition to the standard cleaning services, we also provide other services (like stain removal, minor repairs and alteration) at no extra charge. And in the delivery of the above USPs, our operations are very well standardized, documented and automated. We seek to get it right, first time, every time. We spare no effort in making sure that we remain your Drycleaner of Choice!
What strategies do you have in place to stay on ahead of competition?
Our strategy is to keep working on our service offerings, such that our identified customers have a compelling reason to patronize us. We will do everything within our capacity to honour our promises and commitments to our customers. In addition, we are putting plans in place to make our services more accessible to our teeming customers. As we also get the brand very settled, we will be adding other services to the service bouquet, all with our eyes on the customer. We are aiming to become the reference point for service in this country in the nearest future.
If you got an offer in the oil & gas, banking or telecoms with mouth watering benefits, would you accept the offer and quit the drycleaning business?
At this point you are asking me this, maybe it is too late because there is nothing any job can offer me now that I cannot get. I don’t need to be a staff of anybody to strike my deals. I am a Christian and I strike clean deals. And, if I have been able to put this business together up till now, then there is absolutely nothing anybody can offer me right now. That is a fact! I have so much passion and so much believe in this industry. Maybe when I started, I could have considered a mouth watering offer. But, even at that time, I didn’t want any partnership. I just wanted to put it all together myself and weather the storm to come out better.
What is your staff strength now compared to when you started?
I started this business with myself and a driver. I was going about picking up clothes from homes, friends, uncles, aunties, cousins and from those whom I knew. But when I opened shop in FESTAC, we had 4 people I, my driver and two customer relations officers. I was the washerman, the ironer, the quality control person and all. Business was small enough at that time for me to do it all by myself, and today, we have close to a 100 staff. Today, we have expanded to Maryland, Victoria Island and Yaba, and among our clientele are Virgin Atlantic Airways, Banks, Private Organizations, Corporate Executives and Individuals.
Finally, what can you say is the recipe for your success?
We owe it to God! He gave us the dream, the ability, the capacity and the courage to pursue our dreams. We also owe it to our network of friends and well wishers, who actively and (maybe passively) supported us-financially and otherwise. We have also, by the grace of God, stayed focused on our Goals all through these years, which in no small measure have helped us thus far. But what can we do without our customers? We are indeed very grateful to our dear customers-who believed sufficiently in us to try us out and have stayed with us from inception. And to those we have fallen short of their expectations on service delivery, we apologize sincerely and offer our renewed commitment to do better, next time and every time.