The butler service that lightens the load
Italian expat Alex Benincà tells The Local about how the frustrations of Zurich’s dry-cleaning services led to a business idea over the breakfast table, that is tailored to meet its customers time-saving needs.
It was while preparing for another long day in the office with his wardrobe of bespoke shirts in tatters that Alex Benincà put his business mind to work.
The former management consultant, who originally hails from northern Italy, found the laundry services of Zurich just didn’t wash with him. And over breakfast one day he and his room mate Alexandra decided they could do better.
The result was Cosmobutler, a service that started with the concept that laundry shouldn’t have to be a chore.
“Like many other people, time was an issue for me,” he says. “I worked long hours and when I got home I had other chores to do.”
In a job where a suit and tie is standard uniform, he found getting his dry cleaning fixed simply led to frustration, due to inconvenient opening hours and garments being returned in poor shape.
“My shirts were being systematically destroyed,” he adds. “What I wanted was a simple service with 24-7 opening hours. Just like ordering a pizza.”
So Benincà and co-founder Alexandra Gastpar aimed to fill the gap by setting up Cosmobutler in 2011, which began as an online laundry delivery and pick up service for shirts and blouses.
“Demand was high and I thought the typical customer would be someone like myself - an expat with too little time.”
But requests soon came flooding in from locals, families and pensioners alike and the company now caters for both private and corporate clients.
“Our oldest customer is 87 years old,” Benincà says. And he knows because he has sampled every part of the business, from sourcing ironing specialists to life as a Cosmobutler, out on the road as a delivery and pick up courier.
“By pure chance I even got to meet Zurich’s Eufemia Stadler, a Guinness world record holder in ironing,” Benincà adds. “She gave me some valuable input on what to look for.”
Customers come back to Cosmobutler at a return rate of 90 percent and their feedback provided Benincà with the idea to expand the service to include shoe care and repairs.
Convenience is key with daily pick-up and delivery available until 10pm and a round the clock online ordering service. Free pick up and delivery is available on your first order.
“I don’t see myself in the dry-cleaning business,” he says. “ I’m in the time-saving business.“
Yet, with plans for national and European expansion, Benincà still has precious little time on his hands. A partnership with Swiss Federal Railways, SBB, means that Cosmobutler will be rolled out across the country by spring 2014.
And branching into other European counties is set to follow suit. “Say you go to London for a week, we’ll be happy to do your laundry from wherever you are,” he explains.
As Benincà invests all his energies into a business set up to allow people like to him enjoy more of their spare time, he admits the Cosmobutler service is one he personally can’t live without.
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