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RBC highlights the innovation and creativity of small business owners across the Caribbean. Their ability to adapt to change and overcome various challenges is a testament to the strength of Caribbean people. #smallbusinessresilience #caribbeanbusinesspride #strengthofthecaribbean

Dareem Jeffrey grew up in the village of Moruga, Trinidad witnessing the scarcity of water and the necessary methods used to conserve it. Even as he moved to North Trinidad to attend university where water was more accessible, his desire to conserve water remained. Not only did he want to continue this practice, but he also wanted to help others do the same. In 2019 he started EcoWash and has never looked back since.

EcoWash is an eco-friendly car wash company with a business model rooted in water conservation technology and convenience. Its service is advertised as “the best, safest and most eco-friendly, time-saving way to wash your vehicle.” Unlike traditional methods, EcoWash only uses 2 litres of water to wash an entire vehicle in approximately 20 minutes. The portable carts used by the business contain all the equipment to get the job done and do not require drainage, water or electrical connections. In addition, all the products used during a car wash are biodegradable and eco-friendly.

Here, Dareem shares how he keeps his business thriving.

Get creative with how you deliver services to clients

While the past year has brought various challenges for business owners, Dareem’s go-getter spirit and optimism have allowed him to succeed. Educating people about an ecological car wash was difficult at first as the concept was new. To combat this, Dareem set up curb-side demonstrations which helped to educate potential clients and land new business.

Covid lockdown measures also made it difficult for customers to access EcoWash at their various locations. Dareem’s solution was to meet customers wherever they were by doing house and office calls. He also uses a cashless point of sale device to allow customers to pay on the go and receive a digital receipt. Taking note of the change in spending habits and increased unemployment, Dareem ensured his services were competitively priced.

Creating a subscription service to maintain the connection with customers

While the introduction of a new sanitisation service generated a regular stream of customers, the introduction of a subscription service helped increase repeat business. The subscription service allowed clients to buy a package and book services in advance.

Dareem credits his ability to adapt his business to the changing needs of his customers and the market to these key principles:

Working hard is key, but working smart is just as important

Dareem takes pride in being involved in every aspect of his business which sometimes means he’s washing cars himself. As much as he believes in working hard, he also thinks you ought to work smart. He says, “You must set up a S.Y.S.T.E.M., meaning, Save Yourself Some Time, Energy and Money.” To do this, Dareem schedules time weekly to review all aspects of his business and develop strategies for future growth.

Build in time for work-life balance

EcoWash operates daily, so in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance, Dareem has committed to hiring more staff and taking one day off per week. On his day-off or on weekends, he loves spending time with friends and family as well as going to the beach, restaurants and the cinema.

Dareem sometimes takes advantage of slower periods to work on improving various aspects of his business as well as increasing its digital presence. He also spends time networking and making new friends through entrepreneurial groups and mentorship programmes.

Remember that there’s a solution for every problem you encounter

Dareem emphasizes that business owners shouldn’t give up and subscribes to the notion that every problem has a solution. In response to those who feel like quitting, he admits that he usually responds by saying, “Yes quit, quit making excuses.”

Approach your business with a positive mindset

Dareem understands the difficulties that come with running a business but believes in the power of one’s mind to influence success. He says, “Once you have the mindset that you will make it no matter what, then you will.” Dareem advises entrepreneurs not to dwell on excuses but to view every aspect of their business with optimism.

Currently, Dareem is working on an entrepreneurial model whereby individuals can set up their own EcoWash franchise. He says, “Apart from saving water, I hope that this business can foster entrepreneurship for persons between 17 and 25 years old as they are the most at risk when seeking employment.” Dareem is excited for the expansion of his businesses as he recently signed off on a new location and has also been contacted by other Caribbean countries who are interested in EcoWash. His drive in the face of adversity is admirable.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.