2022, The Year That Was: Rami Shaar, Co-Founder And CEO, Washmen According to Shaar, 2022 will be classified -in his company's books at least- as "the year of wins," given that his enterprise was able to celebrate three key accomplishments over the course of the last 12 months.
You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
According to Rami Shaar, co-founder and CEO of UAE-based digital laundry and dry-cleaning service Washmen, 2022 will be classified -in his company's books at least- as "the year of wins," given that his enterprise was able to celebrate three key accomplishments over the course of the last 12 months.
"Win #1 was coming back to the regular office setup, and settling into an efficient routine," Shaar explains. "Win #2 was pushing beyond ordinary results by launching extraordinary concepts. But win #3 was the pinnacle of the year with Washmen getting honored as the #1 Most Innovative Laundry around the world and #1 Laundry in the whole of the UAE at the Comité International De L`Entretien du Textile (CINET) Awards 2022. We battled through the COVID-19 pandemic, achieved our growth targets, and won global appreciation- all in one year. We're on the right track, and we're completely ready to plunge into 2023 with reinforced drive."
Now, it's no secret that there are many business leaders out there who are vehemently against remote or hybrid working models, and they may be tempted to point to the first of Washmen's aforementioned wins as validation for their particular frames of mind. But dig a little deeper into how Shaar went about deciding to have his employees return to work from the office, and one will see that it was less about arbitrarily choosing one side of the debate over the other, and more about doing what's explicitly good for the business in particular. "In 2022, we transitioned back to working from our office, which had us welcoming our team members that were previously working from home," Shaar reveals. "To ease this transition, we had to invest in better infrastructure, and have multiple stations in Dubai for employees to work from. Following this transfiguration, we witnessed a significant boost in employee morale, as well as a better company culture. At first, it felt like we were going against the tide, but we had to think about what works for us at Washmen, and the nature of our work. In retrospect, it was an excellent decision, which wasn't just supported by the management, but the entire team as well. I wouldn't have done it any other way, as it was this transformation that enabled us to grow our Washmen team in all departments in line with our business growth. With more people transitioning back to office, we observed striking growth in revenues as well. If we were to compare our current numbers with those pre-COVID-19, we saw a 2.5x increase in the total number of customers we serve."
Rami Shaar, Co-Founder And CEO, Washmen. Source: Washmen
Washmen also saw its offerings grow over the course of 2022- after more than a year in research and development, its new shoe cleaning and restoration service, ShoeCare, was launched in September. "Against all odds, it surpassed every expectation," Shaar declares. "Frequency of orders, appreciative feedback, repeat customers, and more- the efforts plowed into this vertical finally trickled in success. A major highlight of the year will remain the launch of ShoeCare, and Washmen investing in the largest operations of its kind here in the region. With the extension of our 30,000 sq. ft. facility, we were able to have a completely different section dedicated to ShoeCare, which now offers a plethora of opportunities for complimenting verticals."
ShoeCare's launch was followed by Washmen's announcement in October that its services would now be available on the region's leading multi-service app, Careem. "We had bet on the super app strategy, and this year, we realized the potential when we chose to integrate our services with Careem," Shaar adds. "With Washmen expanding its verticals and exploring opportunities for synergies, this was again a focal point of the year where we were able to extend our offering to consumers outside of our primary market."
Such successes over the course of 2022 have laid the foundation for what looks set to be a very promising 2023 for Washmen. "Washmen is set for some exciting growth plans, since our current revenue has been much better than we initially projected," Shaar says. "In 2022, we were quite conservative with our estimates, but with the very strong demand that we're witnessing internally, we've realized that we can make that leap, and project greater numbers. To match this new projection, we'll be doubling down on shoe cleaning and restoration, as well as exploring the launch of yet another vertical in the category of fashion accessories. With an added new vertical set for launch in 2023, next year will be dedicated to creating this new market, and refining our portfolio even further by raising the bar for convenience, transparency and quality, which, for Washmen customers, has always been nothing but the best. The new vertical is definitely one to watch out for, because it will be nothing the region has seen before- at least not at the level of expertise and care that Washmen promises! Additionally, we will also be investing time into tech work to smoothen out our product roadmap, and, overall, gain complete operational excellence in 2023."
Shaar also reveals that 2023 will see his company build further on its sustainability efforts, which will be led by a high-impact project it has engineered with Sharjah-based environmental management company, Bee'ah. "After the whirlwind of a year that was 2022, we're only inspired to break Washmen's own benchmark," Shaar adds. "This year, we saw our efforts turn into quantifiable results. We saw our obsessive focus on core values translate to recognition not just here in the region, but across the globe. At Washmen, we only believe in moving upwards, and this year has reignited our die-hard passion to show the world the power of doing things the Washmen way."
Reflections 2022: Rami Shaar, Co-Founder And CEO, Washmen
Don't get complacent "If you find yourself in a comfort zone, always look out for new risks to take, because every time you take on new challenges, you prove to yourself that you are better than your fears. It took us 10 months to launch ShoeCare [Washmen's new show cleaning and restoration service]; so, we know how difficult and complex it is to deliver an exceptional service from day one. We had to dive deep, hire the best talent, develop our tech, run tests, include a soft launch phase for two months, and by the time we were ready to announce, it was a "Hail Mary"!
Take the time to do things right "As cliche as it may sound, slow and steady does win the race. While it may be tempting to move fast and offer new verticals, there are gains from studying the situation, and taking your time to plan before making an impactful move. Choose to take a route that's right (not easy if you wish to play for the long haul), and achieve sustainable growth. Engaging in price wars to gain a large share in the market only reaps short-lived success."
Try rethinking your digital marketing strategy "After seeing better returns on our marketing around brand awareness, as opposed to transactional marketing like Google Search ads, we've redirected our efforts. With the current disruptions in the digital landscape and concepts like consumer privacy on the rise, app-based businesses should gear their focus towards the basics: delivering an exceptional experience that sells itself, and building a long-term brand."