An Outlook On How To Process Clothes

The usual spiel is that we tag, wash, iron and rack ’em. (The majority of operators in our great industry do not behave in the way I am about to describe). It is just that simple and mundane if you listen to some counter people around the globe. This is their mantra (so to speak) when a customer comes in. I know I am exaggerating a bit but I’m not too far off. The ear ringed, half dressed, bored CSR at a counter offers little passion and interest in his message and actions! It is rampart in all industries but at a cleaner, little passion and interest is displayed. And then there’s the chance that they may be sore about something and you have a moody CSR to boot! Scary!

What Are Garments Washed And Pressed Wet?
I often tell a class of newcomers to drycleaning “drycleaning, the beginning, what are we selling?” First and foremost, service. Service is not to mean getting a telephone number and rolling the clothes up into a ball (quite disgusting) and stuffing them in a bag and handing out a receipt with, if they are lucky, a smile and thank you. We sell the service of cleaning and pressing garments along with commercial shirt, blue jean laundry with or without starch. Garments washed and pressed wet! Not to be confused with wetcleaning! We sell wetcleaning (a warm water gentle wash process) for those who prefer water cleaning but they should not be processed as commercial laundry, which encompasses hot water, wet pressing and possible shrinking. We also sell sewing and alterations. Beyond that, we may or may not have specialty services such as full garment restoration, wedding gown services, purse and attachment cleaning, drapes and households as well as leather cleaning and pressing. This group of special services requires special machinery, tools, training and lots of expertise.

What Is The Average Wage And Suit Price?
Service and quality are two words in this industry that have many meanings depending on who you listen to. I think we all know what it is though. It is pretty hard to have one without the other. Certainly enough attention has been brought to these words as everyone struggles to posture themselves as “the” place for quality and service. It’s difficult to count yourself as a quality plant unless one charges somewhere near and above the nationwide prices of drycleaning.

The last poll taken showed that the base price for any garment is around $12.50. Base price would mean the two-piece price of a men’s or ladie’s suit. If $12.50 is the nationwide current price, then how in the world will you produce a quality suit unless you are charging at least that amount? Couture cleaning level of quality would be around $25.00+ for an expensive suit. Another method of putting price and labor in line in an average plant producing (hopefully), a $12.50 suit price would mean they should have a $12.50 per hour labor expense for a presser. It’s just that simple. Paying anything less than $12.50 an hour for an experienced presser who can indeed produce a quality suit, is a good way to look at your expenses. Someone once said, “if you pay peanuts you get monkeys.”

Are Your People Passionate About Their Job?
If passion about your way of doing business is a must, then one will have all the drive in a business sense to turn out the very best product day in and day out. Ah, but how to motivate everyone from the counter to the cleaner is not always easy. Maybe the CSR is not passionate about clothes and is just doing a mundane service as described in my first paragraph of this article. How do we motivate that person to be just as concerned about the quality as let’s say, the drycleaner himself? Training is one very important motivator. Do you have meetings once a week to discuss the business and offer some training to each employee? Or maybe they already think they know it all. Perhaps they do, but real motivation comes from taking an interest in them daily and engaging them in the process and mission statement of your business. Now you have a team of employees all working towards the same goal.

I sincerely believe that most good folks want to shine and stand out as your best employee deep down inside. They may need a little tickling and encouragement to do so. Only you as a manager or owner can draw that out of your employees. Show them you care, pay them well and notice the details of how they behave and work. A little encouragement and interest in them can go a long way. If you get occasional loafers, move them out before they poison the whole crew!

I’m headin’ to the wagon now, these boots are killin’ me!

About Kenney Slatten

Kenney Slatten Training Company is a Dry Cleaning and Laundry Consulting Firm Specializing in Environmental Training and Certification. Kenney Slatten Training Company, or KSTC, is based in Texas with offices in Arizona and California. Kenney Slatten is a certified instructor/trainer for the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI), is actively involved in the San Diego Drycleaners Association, the California Cleaners Association, is an Allied Trade board member of DLI, the Executive Director of Western States Drycleaners & Launderers Association, a member of the International Drycleaners Congress, and a columnist for American Drycleaner and Western Cleaner and Launderer magazines. The Kenney Slatten Training Company provides the only complete environmental training and inspection process. Started in 1987, Kenny became the first instructor for California E.P.A, OSHA, and state regulations. Kenney publishes a 36 point plant requirement every year in trade publications which is his guide for plant training and certification. We are the only company that provides dry cleaning and laundry specific environmental training. Kenney Slatten is a third generation drycleaner/laundryman from Houston, Texas. His company, KSTC, can teach you the skills you need to have a successful plant. His wagon is found all over the country parked under a tree just waiting for the next call to come to your plant. He can be reached at (800) 429-3990; e-mail: or go to: www.