March 2020 will always be a reminder of how difficult things can get for businesses around the world.
With winters almost over and the change of season having created lots of business for us, DhobiLite was preparing itself for the most profitable time of the year. March is when maximum revenue is generated for us as winter clothing and winter linen is laundered and dry cleaned before they can be packaged and returned to storage. But then came an announcement that brought a sudden stop to everything.
Like all other businesses, we had to temporarily shut down our work because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lockdown hurled the entire nation into a period of uncertainty, which created panic and chaos not only among individuals but among big and small organizations too. The sudden blow to economies around the world revealed the limits of our preparedness in handling a pandemic of this scale. While organizations of all sizes experienced the challenges of business continuity at different levels, startups and MSMEs, like ours, were one of the most hard-hit sections.
Stopping business at such a lucrative time of the year was a blow for us. For the first few days, we found ourselves on shaky grounds, unsure of how we will be able to cope with business losses dealt by the lockdown. Fixed expenses like rents and salaries were going to remain the same, and our revenue was going to plummet to nothing at all. There were brief periods when we found ourselves uncertain of our strategies and business continuity plans.
But we quickly realized that there were a lot of livelihoods dependent on our resiliency and ability to overcome these difficult times. Having started as a small company when business was as less as one order a day, we resolved to see this slow down as a new beginning for DhobiLite.
We pulled up our sleeves and quickly responded to the challenges of the pandemic by using the period of lockdown to reorient our business strategies, looking for technologies that can improve business efficiency and enhance the quality of laundry services we provide. With more time at hand, we were able to focus on our core solutions and the technologies used in them and review existing business processes.
As people began to realize that we may have to live with the virus and the process of unlock began across the country, we started seeing growth in the number of customers. By July, we were already serving 45% of our customer base once again, which was an increase from the month May when our business had shrunk to only about 15%. Having utilized the lockdown period for enhancing the technologies and laundry techniques we use, our stores are already showing considerable improvement in cost efficiency. And as I talk about it, more than 60% of our customers are using DhobiLite again.
A lot of new customers are using our laundry services because even though it may not be an essential, when given the option, people usually choose to have their clothes professionally laundered instead of washing and ironing them at home. A large part of our customer base includes busy professionals who have less time for home chores. Many of these customers are working from home now, but the amount of time they have to spend for work, remains the same, so they still lack the time needed to handle laundry and deep cleaning like sofa and carpet cleaning. We have already resumed these services across all our stores, and we look forward to serve more customers through our existing and upcoming stores. We have also realized that since safety and hygiene have become a concern, more people are choosing organized companies for laundry. This has added to our business profitability.
Having emerged victorious through these difficult times, we are now focused on increasing our presence across the country through franchises. Our team is already working with business partners to launch three new stores by the end of Oct-2020 and many more are in the pipeline.
By 2021 we look forward to a more normalized business. It turns out that laundry is an important aspect of good living for all homes. Our business has been resilient through one of the most challenging periods that we experienced since we started. Not only has this been a test for our organization but has also proven our ability to stand strong when things look dark. We have come to understand that laundry is one business that people will continue to use all the time and this strengthens our position in the market.