Dear readers, I cannot think of a more pleasing event than to have you write me to express your continued support and joy from reading my column. This is my 24th year of writing monthly articles for my friends at the Cleaner & Launderer, Randy and Albane Wente. True pioneers of the industry publications, and dear friends of mine. When I retired last summer I asked myself if I would continue writing for Cleaner & Launderer and other educational pieces that I still write. The answer was a clear yes. After some 288 articles for Cleaner & Launder alone, I still have fresh ideas every month. And some ideas bear repeating over and over through different perspectives for those who still need convincing.
My September article was favorably mentioned to me by several of my longtime readers as one of my best. Clearly, quality/service/price are huge topics even today, after three generations of cleaners in my family alone. No one can intelligently deny that we must charge for the service we give. Your quality always has and always will depend on your price. Not toreach that minimum 18% profit you should be enjoying. Remember, we set the quality standards in our industry, not the customer! Some have tried and continue to try a different path of thinking but apparently wisdom does not always come fast as some folks try and reinvent the wheel and deny what the industry already recognizes.
“Please Go To School”
Take our beloved industry school and base of knowledge and information, the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute. Near 100 years of supporting and educating us. Without them, many problems and much education would have gone astray. Once there were no consultants or teachers like myself that operate independently. Now there are many. To some extent, that hampers the importance and growth of the DLI. Reason being that attending school along with other students in any industry provides a level of comprehension that not always is recognized by “one on one” training. Our DLI has provided the complete education one needs to be successful. Consultants can add to that base of knowledge.
“Industry Standards Did Not Start With Kenney Slatten”
Take industry standards for instance. You all know I have preached this before and will preach it again. It did not start with me. Perhaps I will reach someone who is not yet convinced or is new to the industry. It is very common for new operators to want to stand on their own and deny themselves the benefit of schooling, belonging to an association like your state association and the DLI. They choose to believe they can do it on their own without any help. With industry standards, I can refer you to the DLI bulletins that state charging a reasonable and current price for your work will fall in three different levels. Starting with discount pricing, mid quality pricing, full price cleaning (and hopefully quality) and then there is the enviable Couture Cleaning pricing. Now ask yourself, can all of these levels afford to give quality work and product packaging at the same price? I think not. Starting with a good trained CSR, which will cost a good salary if you intend to keep them and keep them trained and informed on today’s clothes. Next are the educated and experienced finishers who are so valuable and require training and constant training with an equal pay for today’s cost of living. Otherwise, they leave and you have a “fill in” that just started pressing a week ago and they know nothing about proper finishing. Out go the quality and the customer right behind.
“The Whole Industry Will Suffer If You Don’t Raise Prices And Quality”
Next is the all important stain removal expert. You cannot afford to pay them the current decent salary if you don’t charge enough for your product. Of course, I suppose that does not matter if quality is but a hint of importance. Not to say everyone thinks that way. I realize that not everybody wants to admit that they don’t even know what quality standards exist. But believe it or not, there are those who still pretend. After all, none of us wants to accept the fact that we don’t turn out quality cleaning. And besides, the customer just keeps beating us up over our prices. So we choose not to go up on pricing and the whole industry suffers.
In any product on earth, price matters and so does quality. I have debated this issue for many years in this industry, since 1971. I was told then and I believe now that one must follow the industry standards on quality commensurate with the level of pricing. It just makes good business sense. But, as sure as the sun will rise, there are some who turn a blind eye to it. I must mention though the few I know in the one price cleaning business that recognize their limitations due to low pricing but do a decent job on their customer’s clothes. These smart operators realize that they must be on the top of their game and do a better than average job compared to some who charge well but do little.
I still maintain a few customers that I am able to do a little work from my house. These few have been my customers for 25 years or more and I can’t let them go. That and my continued writing make me sort of just so – so retired I guess. I miss you all. Keep writing me!
I’m headin’ to the wagon now, these boots are killin’ me!