A while back on the Fabricare Forum someone posed the question “What puts a Drycleaner out of Business?” There were a lot of posts to the question with some being one-line answers and that reminded me of a song by Tom Chapin. To paraphrase from the song, it is about a guy who inquired to his City Council about fixing his pipes as the sewer was shot. The answer from the Mayor of his town was “questions are many and answers are few, but a study is about to begin.”
Please read to the end of this article to see how this relates to the drycleaning industry, and your business. There you will find many answers and soul-searching questions. First, the Big Event of August is the CCA Convention that is being held in Long Beach, California on August 22nd – 24th.
A Sneak Peek Preview From The National Associations
Jon Mejier of DLI Informed me that DLI is alive and well while growing membership both domestically and internationally and has a lot of new ideas the association has needed for a long time. One is the dues structure has been changed from gross receipts, to how many, to a pay for what you use method which is much more fair to the members and eliminates huge cleaners claiming three employees for their dues structure. Jon also told me their biggest hit they have is an online encyclopedia for answers to virtually any questions related to drycleaning and laundry. With a large increase in members from Canada and Australia that start watching their printed material for words like “Eh” and “Crikey.”
Nora Nealis of the National Cleaners Association-I have shared some of the innovative things and programs they have for their members. Probably the training classes for finishing on European Tensioning Equipment is a big highlight of their line-up for members. This equipment has been available for over twenty years in the U.S. and this training program reveals that it is the ideal way to effortlessly finish drycleaned or wetcleaned garments. They have more on-the-road classes for all aspects of the trade. OSHA and HAZMAT Compliance upgrade to global standards.
NCA-I has an endorsed broker strictly for healthcare to meet the requirements for the Affordable Care Act. Another revolutionary idea is the Points of Perfection posters which Nora was kind enough to send me a sample poster that shows a beautifully finished men’s jacket with notes on everything it takes to make a perfectly finished jacket! Each fall NCA-I has a Summit and this year they have a discounted rate in Sponsored tables to learn the wisdom of John Di Julius. I attended one of his presentations and I was blown away with his methods of customer relations and running a successful and friendly business. Garment Analysis now includes advocating directly with the manufacturers to replace faulty garments, a source for really screwy buttons and trims since they are in the garment district of NYC and including stained swatches sent out with their frequent bulletins to their members.
“What puts a Drycleaner out of Business?” is a question that was recently posed to the members of the Fabricare Forum (firstname.lastname@example.org). The real answer to this simple question could result in a complete management course of study and there are no one line answers. Any business is a complex set of events that must take place in a somewhat reasonable manner. Think of what a drycleaner needs to know; how business works, location, finance, knowledge, customer relations, accounting, record keeping, marketing, advertising and a host of other business subjects. They also need to know such things as psychology, human relations, computer skills, technical knowledge of electricity, mechanics, chemistry, solvents, air pneumatics and a host of other relevant disciplines.
Then you have the difference of personalities and their desires to succeed, get by or to fail! A study I read recently relays information about new immigrants or the first generation to the US and mentioned China, India, Iran, Lebanon, Cuba and Nigeria. This study stated that some of the ones coming to America had three things in common. One was a feeling of superior Succeeding Abilities, another was of Inferiority and a third was Impulse Control. There was also a mention of those within the US, who make up a larger percentage of various endeavors, and seemed to revolve around religion. These groups showed a higher education level and higher skills.
So, with this bit of information, perhaps it could be broken into many segments in order to run a “successful” business. Which brings up the question “What is a Successful Business?” Success could be defined as satisfaction, amounts of money, business reputation, prestige, recognition or other perceived goals.
In the drycleaning business we have what their peers would agree upon is that there are some great cleaners where virtually everything is done to perfection. There are those who the peers would collectively agree that they are “pretty good.” Then one would fall into a class of “just another cleaners” and, of course, the “really bad one” would bring up the lower echelon of choices for those who either want to do business with or to trust with their garments and their appearance.
A good portion of conventional cleaners seems to be handed down from the family, or gained by a long time and good employee. Those who like a cash business and do not intend to stay in it longer than to put their kids through school so they can amount to something have purchased some cleaners. Some of the most successful cleaners, in my experience, have been those who were purchased by those who had a professional career before seeing the advantage of running a professional and competent drycleaning operation.
What is the difference in thinking of the owners regarding success, comfort, professionalism and technical knowledge and projecting an overall image? The simple answer is how much is people willing to put into their business, what is their learning capacity and what is their knowledge about the business they want to go into. Of course, there are owners who have only a minuscule amount of technical knowledge of the business, but they also have someone on their payroll that does have the knowledge and he knows how to listen to them. The learning capacity is determined at birth with some people able to freely understand complex subjects and a wide range of things that make up a business. Probably one of the critical ingredients is that a person thinks they can succeed, and that they must succeed.
Succeed, Get By or To Fail. What does that mean?
The person who succeeds in business or other endeavors he chooses to go into knows that he can succeed because he has the desire to want to and is willing to make numerous sacrifices to get it going for the later reward. They have the capacity to learn the business and what it takes to run a successful business by whatever criteria he chooses.
The person who gets by is the person who does not want what others might decide is success and is not willing to put forth the effort to thoroughly learn the entire trade and what comprises it. They are the ones who do not see the benefit of financing new equipment in order to reduce other expenses such as power costs or air conditioning the plant for increased productivity. These can be lumped into the category of having bought a job and see their business as a paycheck provider and realize the more they work, the more they make.
Unfortunately there are people in business who ha,ve been told from a very early age that they are no good, will never prosper, are too dumb to succeed or lots of other negative things they believe are true. They limit their success by when the business starts flourishing they begin making very bad choices that result in losing money. These could be business decisions or personal decisions.
The original question, “What puts a Drycleaner out of Business?” The answers that have been revealed above is telling how to succeed in business and even one of the three answers not followed could result in a failed business. So if one wants to succeed, has the capacity to professionally succeed and the knowledge to succeed, and has not been set-up to fail mentally, they can succeed in this business. Many other factors could have been noted here as to what successful drycleaners must consider in order to be successful but the answers above contain all of the ingredients needed for a successful business.
So, work hard and work smart!
You can begin by attending the California Cleaners Convention in Long Beach, August 22nd – 24th at the Long Beach Convention Center and actually take time to stop and talk to those who have booths there. It will not be wasted time and could result in a new perspective on your business. You may also look at some new and interesting equipment and that tensioning finishing equipment can help to reduce your labor costs while providing a better-finished garment with unskilled labor and a very short learning curve.
When you walk the aisles of the convention remember to actually look at what you are seeing and imagine how it can help your business to succeed in today’s impersonal and shrinking industry. Look at your familiar business with new eyes and new enthusiasm as a lot of your competitors won’t go, they won’t look, and they won’t think about improving their business.