America’s Best Cleaners™(ABC) recently hosted its National Affiliate Meeting, the nation’s premier gathering of professionals in the garment care industry. More than 30 affiliates, partners and guests of ABC met in Seattle, Washington in September for two days of networking, learning and collaboration.
As at all National Affiliate Meetings, the gathering kicked off with a tour of local Affiliate Blue Sky Cleaners’ production facility. These tours offer dry cleaners a unique opportunity for peer review of operations, organization and efficiency from professionals who offer the same premier level service.
Mark Jones of Spot Business Systems presented an update on new developments with the company’s point-of-sale and customer relationship management programs. Many of the updates discussed by Jones were developed as a result of ABC’s Spot Users Group in which ABC affiliates regularly share how they’re using the Spot software in their businesses and what improvements they would like to see.
Harry Carranza of Select Risk Insurance Services offered a hugely successful presentation identifying benefits available only to ABC affiliates.
Dave Troemel of BeCreative360, was on hand to present improvements to the ABC Review My Drycleaner program, which aggregates consumer reviews of drycleaners in a single location while allowing owner interaction with reviewers. Troemel also reviewed BeCreative360’s integration with Spot’s On the Spot service and recommended best strategies for affiliates to capitalize on email marketing.
The second day began with a presentation by ABC’s Marketing and Brand Specialist, Katherine McGraw Patterson, on the importance of building a strong brand. Patterson presented a comprehensive marketing ROI case study highlighting the importance of integrating traditional and digital marketing channels.
The highlight of the second day was a breakout session covering Team Incentives. Attendees were divided into three teams and instructed to devise an incentive program for a new garment care company. Each team was responsible for creating an incentive program for one area of the business – Production, Retail and Routes – and then presenting that program to the group.
“The theme of this meeting was ‘Teamwork’,” says Catherine McCann, ABC’s Partner and Operations Director. “This exercise got our affiliates thinking outside of the box and past the challenges they face in their established businesses to what could work if there were no pre-existing limitations. Hopefully, they can take these ideas back to their individual businesses and tweak them in ways that make them work for their own teams.”
The meeting wrapped with a two-hour roundtable discussion on best business practices, during which affiliates were invited to bring the one action or item that had the greatest positive impact on their business since the group last met in March.
Not a group to miss a good time, the affiliates and guests made time for the Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing tour where they had an opportunity to view 747, 777 and 787 jets being assembled on the Everett production line located just north of Seattle. The evenings’ entertainment included a dinner performance at Teatro Zinzanni, famous for its unique combination of cirque, comedy and cabaret in an intimate live experience dubbed “the hottest ticket in town” by the New York Times.
Perhaps the most meaningful portion of the two-day event was a surprise recognition ceremony for ABC’s founder, Ed D’Elicio. D’Elicio founded ABC in 2001 for garment care professionals interested in continuously improving their quality and service through education and peer sharing. The value D’Elicio has brought to the industry and specifically to this group, was evident as affiliates shared professional and personal anecdotes and presented him with a token of esteem and appreciation. D’Elicio continues as a valued consultant with ABC.
ABC is one of the dry cleaning industry’s leading consultancy group and the facilitator of the only independent certification mark for quality and service. Its stringent list of standards, which include regular and strenuous onsite inspections and testing, as well as surveys of retailers and clients and secret shopping reports, has resulted in an elite network of affiliates across North America. ABC’s overall goal is to aid all interested parties in defining, developing and implementing programs that strive for personal and professional excellence. Those businesses that pursue certification are offered a forum for educating and informing these professionals about the industry’s cutting edge technologies and business practices