In Vicenza, by fully exploiting the resources of a continuously “connected” world, a typical family-run laundry and neighborhood landmark has grown to become a public entities supplier and provider of extremely diversified laundry delivery services.
Steps from your front door, and connected to the entire world.
Convenient, and “global”.
Three magical words clarify what everyone is talking about: “Atelier del Pulito”. Whether on Google or Facebook, your search will yield the same results because Atelier del Pulito is actually the name of the laundry operated by Sante Simone Frigo and Francesca Gonella at number 5/7 via Bachelet in Vicenza. Partners in business and life, these two laundry artisans can recount the last fifteen years worth of laundry sector history from an authoritative standpoint, as their own adventure began in 2001.
Fourteen years later, taking up a few, functional and clean square meters, the laundry appears to be a typical “neighborhood shop”, which is exactly what it is. From 8 AM to 7 PM on weekdays, it welcomes young adults, mothers and self-sufficient seniors, carrying articles they want returned looking brand new. Whether these be shirts, blankets, comforters, table linens or fine wool sweaters, all customers ultimately need two things: affordable service and a quick turn-around. In the third millennium, we all need to “pinch pennies”.
The extraordinary and creative force of Atelier del Pulito goes beyond the nice facade customers see every day. There is a lot more to it which, in one word, is called “work”. Work meant as the on-going, passionate dedication to the cause by which the two proprietors of Atelier del Pulito make themselves indispensable within their own neighborhood as well as homes, companies and public facilities across a much larger territory.
“It is the year 2015 – explains Sante Simone Frigo – and the increasingly widespread, diverse means of communication are a key strength of this era. Even though I may offer the best laundry services in the world, if I were to communicate only with people who live in this neighborhood, the overly limited size of our local market would soon drive me out of business. The golden era when middle-class families dropped off most of their weekly laundry is long gone; now they bring three shirts at best”.
“On the contrary, – Francesca Gonella continues – there are unprecedented opportunities even for family owned companies like ours these days, and in particular those tied to the intensive and updated use of web-based communication. This obviously requires spending a far from insignificant part of the workday on the internet, but eventually it benefits the company in a variety of ways, ranging from the ability to monitor market trends, to being informed of new calls for tender in real-time, and understanding how people feel about trends, behaviors, family budgets. The washers spin while the world enters our shop through our company computer”.
The Atelier del Pulito computer is indeed so well connected with the world that it generates the freest, most unpredictable and sure effect of all. It is called “Word of Mouth”, which notoriously stands for more or less widely shared comments and reviews regarding the quality of products and services offered by a company. The numbers certainly show it: 360K page views on Google Plus, and 300 Facebook page visits on average per week. This is where a far-flung crowd-pulling activity for different market sectors begins. “It works for young people – Sante confirms – who always search the internet for the best place to have their shirts washed based on a precise quality/price ratio, as well as for the well-to-do looking for a professional who can travel to their home and clean expensive carpets or large curtains”.
The internet might also be an “indispensable guide” for a family-run neighborhood laundry. “It is a valuable tool for staying abreast of market trends – Francesca specifies – in fact, the web is how I learned about the launch of highly water-repellent textiles, as well as which products I would need to use to care for them in the best way possible”.
The internet is also a precious source of data on government calls for tender, which, due to the crisis having spread across all sectors of a cooperative system in dire need of a complete rehaul, have recently started to attract more private entities. “In 2014, we took part in about ten competitive tenders – says Sante – while in the last few months alone we received notifications on 20”.
These words reaffirm how enterprises like Atelier del Pulito need to serve other businesses, whether they be pharmacies and restaurants, or public giants like Ferrovie di Stato (State Railway), gained though a contract for the arsenal of Vicenza, or Valore Ambiente, an ex-municipal urban waste disposal entity. “Right now we have no choice but to work fifteen hours every day – Sante and Francesca say – because the 75% tax on company revenues makes it impossible to hire the workers we need to further expand our business”.
Although real, the so-called “difficulties” are certainly not enough to slow down a perfect “business machine” like Atelier del Pulito. Let’s think of them as “challenges”, soon to be won.
by Stefano Ferrio