START YOUR HORSE BLANKET CLEANING BUSINESS
You can start a horse blanket cleaning business as a complete horse business or use it as a Spin-Up Business to a more extensive horse business. Here are some examples of Horse Blanket Cleaning Services. These websites provide details about Pricing, Pick-Up and Drop-Off, Procedures, and Ownership of the business. Review these websites and get a feel for the businesses as well as their marketing strategy.
Note that these businesses currently trend to colder, wetter climates (and therefore muddier and dirtier climates). This would not prevent the business operation in milder climates although it would not be the likely primary business. In milder climates, blanket cleaning would occur less, end with an early spring cleaning, and be an adjunct business to some other cleaning business.
As concerns and awareness of biosecurity procedures increases, it is expected that these businesses will expand to meet the needs of owners, riders, stable owners, show and event operators.
Look at some examples of these businesses.
Lori’s Horse Laundry and Store, Murrietta, CA. Lori's takes care to clean thoroughly, offers pick-up and delivery services, and takes great care in quality repair work.
Lucky Days Blanket Care, Lovettsville, Virginia. Lucky Days operates on a scheduled pick-up and drop off schedule. A unique service offered by Lucky Days is the use of control number for each blanket. By so doing, Lucky Days can provide a detailed history of all services perfomed on each blanket. As a final service, Lucky days returns bags folded in plastic, zippered cases for easy storage.
Sho-Clean, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. Sho-Clean offers pick-up and delivery as well as a 24-hour drop-off service. Sho-Clean also performs repairs on horse blankets.
Totally Horses, Chesapeake, VA. Totally Horses additionally offers a Sharpening Service (for clippers) as well as Embroidery and Custom Monogramming.
Somerset farm Blanket Cleaning and Repair, Gainesville, Ga. Somerset farm offers Blanket Cleaning, Sewing repairs, and Used Blankets for Re-Sale.
Oak Meadow Services, Fairport, NY. Oak Meadow, in business over 30 years, offers blanket cleaning and repairs, but also operates as a self-service laundry. Special care is taken between washings to clean the machines so each customer can expect a clean machine to use.
The Tack Shack, Fremont, NH. Since 1992, The Tack Shack offers blanket cleaning and repair services. Additionally, The Tack Shack offers to clean other pet products including dog beddings.
BASICS OF OPERATING A BLANKET CLEANING BUSINESS
The Blanket Cleaning Process
There are recommended procedures for cleaning horse blankets. If you start a horse blanket cleaning business, you should go to the manufacturer’s website and look for directions for care of the blanket, sheet, or saddle pad.
Here are the basic steps you should follow:
Pick-Up or Delivery:
Place Blankets (properly labeled as to owner with contact information) in large plastic garbage bags for transport to the laundry site. There is no need to overly contaminate your vehicle. Use gloves to handle the blankets and discard. You are delivering and picking up from barn to barn and need to lessen any chance of spreading infection.
And Note: If the very business of cleaning blankets is important as an equine health and insecurity practice, your practices in pick up and delivery should mirror that fact and tie in with your marketing efforts about the importance of doing this. This will also be much healthier for you.
Use a soft brush to remove dried or caked mud and/or manure.
If necessary, use disposable wipes to get the excess off before it goes into your washing machine.
Wash only in cold water--no hot water washing.
Use a commercial size washing machine, preferably with 30-35 lb. capacity. The blanket needs room to tumble and loosen in order to be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed.
Look for a high speed spin cycle to discharge as much water as possible.
Use a liquid detergent that is far more soluble in cold water than a dry detergent.
After the blanket has been washed and rinsed, remove it from your machine for drying.
Run a rinse cycle of your machine with a disinfectant such as Clorox Bleach.
Waterproofing on horse blankets is almost always an applied product that may last up to three years (the exception being Gore Tex). The waterproofing will loose effectiveness over time and the blanket will need to be treated. The blanket will likely have a waterproofing on the outside as well as INSIDE. There are products available to re-waterproof the blanket inside and out.
There are products available specifically for this purpose.
Never machine dry. Use drip-drying only. The wet weight of a horse blanket is not easily supported by a clothesline and you will need to construct pole or, better, large diameter PVC supports. This process could take 3 days so prepare your customers for this.
You must secure the customer’s blanket from theft, but look for available sunshine to naturally dry when you can do this.
Repackaging for Delivery:
Neatly fold and deliver the blanket in either a plastic bag or wrapped in brown craft paper. You can even use preprinted bags with your logo. Deliver with a proper business Invoice and include a couple of business cards.
If your business offers additional services, include a flyer about tack cleaning or horse trailer detailing or whatever other services you may offer.
Blanket Repair is a good add-on service to a horse blanket cleaning business. Convenience to the customer makes it easy to see why these two businesses would go hand in hand. Serious rips and tears will almost always require the work of a professional seamstress and may be beyond your skill set. If you do decide to undertake this aspect of the business, find a local seamstress who can do this work.
Do not be afraid to turn down work you are not equipped to perform. A poor job will do more to destroy your business than explaining you are not equipped to do it. DO NOT STOP THERE. Be a proactive resource for your customer. Try to find someone who could do this work with skill and refer the repair job to that person. Continue to provide good customer service. This is professional and somehow, it will all turn out to benefit you in the end in some way.
If someone has a rough shape, torn blanket, that is near discard, ask if you can work on it and try to improve it. Ask them not to expect miracles at this point. You may not want to charge full price for your first efforts, but do charge. You cannot establish a business in which people expect you to do things for free. Your work may improve the blanket to serve as a temporary blanket while another blanket is being washed or make it safe and suitable for a donation to a horse rescue operation.
Small rips, holes and tears in horse blankets will become larger. Some small repairs can be made fairly easily. Larger rips and tears may require a seamstress. This is an important service to offer and may be a learning process for you. Blanket rips and tears are also a safety issue for the horse. Loose, hanging cloth from a rip or tear will catch on something sooner or later. This may spook the horse and lead to an injury.