Chief Executive Officer of Yaz Laundry, Yakubu Mohammed Yazeed speaks to Udora Orizu about his journey in the service industry, and how his dry cleaning company is changing the narrative of cleaning in Nigeria
How did Yaz Laundry and Cleaning Service Begin?
We started as a laundry and drycleaning company in 2019 from the backyard of my parents house, we took advantage of a vacant space we stumbled upon and opened Abuja’s first laundry cabin in Wuse 2, off Libreville Street, our patronage and popularity grew and there was a constant demand for cleaning services, so we set out to learn the various types of cleaning through the years and continued expanding, now we render all forms of cleaning services i.e carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning, post construction/ post renovation cleaning, deep cleaning etc. The expansion led us to opening a second location in Kaduna in 2021 and we are currently looking forward to opening our third location in Kano before the end of 2022.
How has the journey been so far?
Well growing in the cleaning industry in this part of the world I must say is pretty difficult, because of how cleaners are perceived. At the very onset we knew we had to do things differently, we knew we had to work vehemently on the quality of service we rendered and making sure that our branding was top notch, the aforementioned has gone a long way in enabling us thrive and survive in the Nigerian entrepreneurial ecosystem, as a cleaning service provider that has been in the industry for almost 4 years , we are constantly faced with challenges ranging from , staff management, finance, constant inflation of prices of materials /machinery, unstable electricity etc. but we have learnt to be courageous and to keep on moving through the various odds that surround us and this has enabled us grow through our process. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve our customers and it is through this we have been able to grow our family of yazifiers from a staff capacity of 4 to 37 across Abuja and Kaduna.
How do you manage such a large cleaning force?
In the beginning it was overwhelming and quite painstaking, but we learnt that we could not be doing things anyhow again, as the stakes were now higher for us, it became glaring to us that we had to create structures for every operation that makes up the company, so for every employee we have , he / she goes through an orientation that makes them to be acquainted with our Standard Operating Protocol , therefore making the hassle of managing our team more seamless.
4, How do you intend to use Yaz laundry & Cleaning Services to better the community?
We recently started a campaign in October 2021 called #ProjectCleanAbuja, the main goal of the campaign is to promote proper waste management and recycling , we realized our duty as cleaners is beyond rendering our day to day services and earning from it, we owe a duty to our community to promote a healthy and sustainable ecosystem, for we are the custodians of cleanliness in our environment. So from October last year, we set out every last Sunday of the month to clear out the dirt in our environment and also recycle them properly, we carried out 3 successful editions last year before we converted it to a quarterly campaign this year. We have already carried out our first edition in January and we are looking forward to our April edition. This is our own way of giving back to our community that has given so much to us, with time we hope to make it a nationwide campaign. We also have an academy that teaches the next generation of cleaners the various aspects of cleaning we have mastered at a meagre fee, this is to promote entrepreneurship in our community and also encourage those that have a passion for the cleaning business, the main reason we started the academy is because when we started we had to learn alot of things from making mistakes , as we had little to no material to make reference to, but today because of our academy the next generation of cleaners will not have to go through all we went through and in learning the right way their growth rate will be facilitated and this will help the industry.
You are one of the few cleaners that was selected to clean the National stadium, what is it you are doing that other cleaners are not doing, because it seems as though Yaz Laundry & Cleaning Services is always part of major cleaning projects , from cleaning private jets to cleaning stadiums?
We believe in doing more and we have applied this concept to everything we do as a company, we treat each job like it is our first and last job and this has made our quality of service to be impeccable, which has gone further to open doors for us and you know how the popular quote goes “he who is diligent in service , will stand before kings and queens ” and most importantly grace has been upon us, the grace of God has taken us further and has enabled us to thrive and survive. So it is not that other cleaning companies are not doing what we are doing because there are cleaning companies bigger than us and there are also a lot of cleaning companies that are doing great things daily, our win is a general win for the industry and it does not make us better than any other cleaning company, it just means that we the new generation of cleaners are changing the narrative of cleaning in Africa and I sincerely cannot wait to see what we would all do in the coming years.
Let us say you are standing before the next generation of cleaners, how would you advice them?
I will tell them to be brave and courageous because cleaning is more than those before and after pictures you see on social media, cleaning is a highly professional job that requires dedication, practice, time and patience. You will make mistakes a lot of times but i promise you will grow through it, do not rush your process because for each and everyone you see doing great things today there is a back story of mistakes we have made and we are still making and when you finally have your footing, go back and help someone else grow, because our collective win is a win for the industry.