Originally Posted by Bounder
I try to be. In dry cleaning, egos bruise easily.
I'm all for the focus on quality and craftpersonship. My main beef with big dry cleaners, and multi-location chains is that far too often they forget about focusing on doing the job right and get carried away with finding the next catchy slogan, cool marketing trick, or opening that next store and hitting the profitability line.
I'm not saying that you can't grow big and still do a good job, its just that the larger an operation you become, the more likely it is for people who don't give a damn to get hired on and hide amongst the staff/management.
A good dry cleaning business is built one customer at a time, by servicing one garment at a time. There are no short cuts or fast fixes. You have to be able to do a lot of very complex procedures in a never ending permutation of methodologies to do the job right.
For example: Inspection of clothes at the front counter when customer is dropping off garments.
When you drop off your clothes, 50 percent of the customers may or may not hate the person behind the counter on sight. Why? Well, that's just basic probability, either some likes you, or not...a fifty fifty chance.
As the counter person is receiving your clothing, a careful cleaner is going to do some percursory inspection of each garment looking for spots, stains, rips, tears, missing buttons, broken zippers, as well as recording a general description of the garment for tracking, pricing, and to be sure as to return the garment back to its rightful owner.
Identifying spots and stains while the customer is present makes the cleaner and stain remover staff's job much easier, its much more safe for the garment as proper stain removal formulae are applied, and the customer gets a job done right rather than a garment with a stain now chemically bound and locked into an unwearable garment.
Fixing rips, tears, replacing broken or lost buttons, replacing broken zippers is as much a profit center for the cleaner as it is a valuable service to the customer. Nobody likes getting dressed for work in the morning and finding a crucial button missing and a zipper that doesn;' work, it wastes time, causes inconvenience, and just plain sucks as the consumer now has to change as well as make an extra trip to get the garment fixed.
Checking garments while receiving them is also a very good way to reduce undue claims to the dry cleaner. If a cleaner is charging ten dollars to clean a suit, and the customer did not notice a bad rip in the lining (or worse, hid a home ink stain removal attempt using Acetone on an acetate lining - result--melted lining), the cleaner has to spend HIS labor at HIS expense to fix YOUR problem that was there in the first place. It might take one suit of sales revenue to offset the cost of fixing a long large tear, or the sales revenue of ten to 15 suits to cover the cost of re-lining one suit jacket. Worst of all, it might cost a half day's revenue to replace an expensive designer suit. Like someone said, perhaps a cleaner is charging so much because he ruins 10 percent of the clothes left in his care. Gee...do you consumers know that the cost of all theft and shoplifting is built into the price of other goods and services you buy? If you ain't paying, someone else bought.
So, as you can see...I've only described a small portion of all the steps and concerns that go into receiving a few garments from one customer, and I haven't even left the front counter/receiving garments step of many steps required to clean, press, inspect, assemble, and return clothes back to this one customer. Now, multiply this by all the other customers a dry cleaner serves.
In a small shop, one or a few people committed to perfection can juggle all these procedures. In a bigger shop, it takes much more planning and procedure development to accomplish the same goal of perfection. In a large chain of stores, its becomes very difficult to keep everyone going in the same direction, to the same service standards. I'm not saying it can't be done, I know it can, I've seen it, I've stood in it, I've worked it, and I help develop such qulity and service oriented perfection with my clients.
It all starts with the attitude of the owner, and then his staff. If the owner cares and devotes himself to making quality, service, and perfection happen, it can be done. If the owner has an attitude of entitlement, arrogance, or 'I know it all', well, its not going to go so well. If his staff only care about the paycheck, not so much is going to happen after the owner level. Talking about it, blogging lip service, marketing your intentions are NO replacement for actually delivering the perfectly completed job. That's why I say, any cleaner, regardless of reputation, size, or skill, is only as good as that last garment his employee handed out. If YOU, the customer are not satisfied, WE, the cleaner, have failed.