First Impressions Tell The Story

By the time this article reaches print for October, things will start cooling off and we will (should) return to warmer and hopefully better attire at the counter. It has always slayed me how anyone who owns a drycleaning and laundry plant could expect a customer to be proud of the fact that they spend tons of money getting their clothes cleaned to look nice, when the drycleaning people themselves have no pride in how they dress. I guess I will never figure it out. A first impression on anyone, anywhere is always based (until they open their mouth maybe), on how the other person is dressed. “Being well groomed is an asset.” For many decades this was the moniker for the Texas Drycleaners & Launderers Association and was a window and bumper sticker found on every plant window and many, many automobiles. No one could have ever said it better. Sadly, the moniker and the attitude have disappeared. More “progress” as the young folks call it, I reckon. It rides off into the sunset as did the Cowboy Cleaner himself.

Wrinkled As A Dog’s Butt!

So, what can we do to correct this terrible change of attitude? Well, for one we can start dressing better in our plants. Case in point, my doctor (no longer in a pressed white shirt, necktie and pressed white doctor’s coat) met me recently at his office in none of the above dress, but in a terribly wrinkled pair of unpressed trousers, no necktie or jacket and a shirt that to quote my friend,  A.L. Wilson’s Jeff Schwarz, “That unpressed or badly pressed shirt is wrinkled more than a dog’s butt.” Nice analogy pal. This doctor’s poor and unprofessional change of dress is due to changing times and un-thinking drycleaning people who represent the business, usually the owner and/or the counter people. Here are some questions for self examination of your place for improvement purposes.

A Checklist Of Impressions

Grade yourself from excellent, good, fair to poor:

1. How would visitors rate the company signs you have outside of your store or plant?   ________

2. What impression does your counter make on visitors?  ________

3. How tidy is your store and plant counter?  ________

4. How well do your counter people project a clean and well groomed look?  ________

5. How well do your stationary bills, invoices and other written material represent you?  ________

6. How courteously do your people greet customers at the door and on the phone?  ________

7. How is your business reputation known for answering and handling complaints? Are they treated as one day specials every day as to be remedied quickly, or do you wait a week or two?  ________

How Did You Score?

How many “excellents” did you rate?    ______

How many “goods”?  ______

How many “fairs”?  ______

How many “poors”?  ______

You may find that there is room for improvement in your place of business. Self examination is important because the only other person that will do so is the customer that you lost. Statistics in our industry have long proved that it is many times harder to win back a customer that you lost because of this problem or others. Some of these problems we have no control over. Many a customer around the world of drycleaning and laundry has been lost to monumental oversights or careless handling of a garment. There are many customers that have also been lost due to no fault of ourselves. Some customers are woefully and continually ignorant of our process no matter how hard we try to help them and explain how we operate. In fact, some of them are maniacs. My pal Doris Easley used to say, “It would be nice if time would allow us to give every customer a short tour of our plant and how many different people touch their clothes in the process.” Doris, I miss you my friend and hope you are well. Norm Korey, where are you my friend?

Show Off Your Plant

My dear friends in the industry, I realize that most of you do a superb job at your business. The old cowboy is not trying to throw all plants into one dirty clothes basket; those who need this self examination will realize it, take the test and learn from it. You just may find a reason where and why the ghost customers that are gone and have disappeared for the above reasons. Think about it and hopefully learn from it. While I am writing I urge everyone to dress up a little. Casual dress is the bane of our industry!

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.