Profitability in 2016

Well, we have gone through another year with all of its trials and tribulations and many have reaped a good reward by keeping their goals and objectives in sight. There have been a lot of drycleaners that have gone out of business either by choice such as retirement and just walking away from the business or forced out of business by too many expenses and not enough revenue.

It is time, perhaps, to check on your neighbor drycleaner and find out how he survived. I suspect the answer is going to be a combination of things including reducing payroll, enhanced finishing equipment, cutting employee hours in order to maintain your health coverage for long tenured workers, reducing supply expenses and a host of other expense related items by looking at your P&L statement to see if you can re-arrange or enhance some of your line items to give you a better idea of where the money is going.

Look at your pricing and make sure they are at the level necessary to turn a profit. Begin stashing a hundred or so dollars away each month in order to provide a stash that you can use when a bargain in supplies or equipment comes along. Maintain your equipment with progressive maintenance rather than wait until something breaks down and perhaps put you out of business for a few days. Setting up a definite time for all employees to get together monthly to discuss team building and ways to reduce costs. You might just be surprised how the employees can see things from a different perspective than the owner/manager has. Try to make your call office an attractive place to come and do business. Don’t forget to have all customer service people in matching uniforms.

It seems the big things take care of themselves while the little things is where the money leakage is taking place. This is also a good time to set-up a check and balances on money handling with every pay-out verified, along with each claim where the most common form of theft is to simply take a ticket and destroy it while the money goes into an employee’s pocket. For claims, have one person designated to handle all claims and to have a claim form to go by. Immediate contact with the customer is almost as important in keeping them informed of what is happening with their claim.

I find that some of the best operators not afraid to evaluate and purchase new equipment – anything from a heat seal machine to double leggers or other equipment – that can help your employees work more efficiently with less labor and when this happens you will also enhance the garment’s appearance.

During the NCA-I convention in October in New Jersey there were a host of equipment distributors and manufacturers with the latest in finishing equipment. Some of the old standbys were exhibited including Hi-Steam, Sankosha, Unipress, Trevil and several others. Trevil had their complete pant press on display that is loaded like a tensioning topper, the cycle started and the entire trouser was filled with steam under tension. When the top part is finished the pressing plates come in towards the outside of the legs and the inside of the legs have a press plate between them and at this time the trouser legs are steamed and the plates close to completely press the legs. This one machine completely presses the entire trouser after it is loaded onto the form. Yak had a double legger that looks like a conventional press but still requires skill to not make double creases. After topping on another machine, the trouser is placed on the buck and creases lined up and next, the middle component between the legs is a fabric covered device and then the second leg is placed on the buck and crease lined-up and then goes into an automatic cycle.