The National Cleaners Association had their convention in New Jersey just across the river from downtown Manhattan. What a beautiful sight it was to see the Freedom Tower and the Manhattan skyline at night.
The convention was not overly large nor overly small which gave those attending time to actually visit with the exhibitors rather than be in a hurry to see all of the booths to see what can help the drycleaners in production, productivity, or to gather more good customers. There were two excellent parts to the convention, the first was the quality of the exhibitors and the second was the outstanding line up of nationally known speakers.
The first speaker was Dennis Snow with an excellent presentation titled “Creating an Exceptional Customer Experience.” His credentials consist of twenty years with Walt Disney world with many years also of consulting worldwide, dealing with exceptional customer service. Dennis has on-line training programs available on Youtube and also available on DVD along with a book titled Unleashing Excellence.
The second speaker was one of our own, Jason Loeb, who started with one drycleaner and currently has around 28 individual points of contact for customers to get excellent customer service. He hires people who have outgoing and service oriented personalities then trains them in the jobs they will perform. The new hires go through an indoctrination program to show them what his business’ company culture is. He also informs the new hires that they will get a review in 60 days and also annual reviews after that. He bases his company on being a team and everyone is a team member and each job reflects on every other job. He says that you direct your employees (team members) by your actions and when making decisions if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t the right thing to do. He also stresses that every employee be acknowledged every day. He also states that each employee is an important part of the team. He likened this to a group of people rowing a boat. If some are laggards and not pulling their weight the boat will simply go in circles. When all are rowing as they are supposed to the boat goes straight and hits its target.
The third speaker has spoken for NCA at their brainstorming sessions and is always well received due to his compassion for customer service and making businesses grow through exceptional customer service. He owns two hair salons and tests all of his revolutionary ideas in the salons and both salons are in the Nation’s top 20 of Salons in the U.S. He states that we are in the Customer Service Perception business, not drycleaning. He mentioned how Uber is virtually taking over the taxicab business simply because the drivers are not customer oriented and they are still doing things the way they were fifty years ago.
Dawn Hargrove Avery, the National Cleaners Association’s Digital Marketing Manager, gave an excellent presentation on “How to Handle the Big Four” in digital listing. The big four being Yelp, Bing, Google+ and YP. This was a complete set of instructions on how to set-up your free listings on the big four.
Alan Spievogel had a presentation on the subject that is always a big hit at any conference, The damaged garments rag bag and how to avoid destruction of some of the newer bright ideas from the designers and garment manufacturers.
One lady that is the Top Dog on customer relations works for NCA and is usually the friendly voice when you call the NCA office. Barbara Richards has been working at NCA for 58 years and still as enthusiastic now as she was 57 years ago. I have had the pleasure of calling her a friend for probably 25 years. Here is a toast to another 58 years Barbara!
Now to the nuts and bolts of the convention. Most of the regular exhibitors had booth sizes there that were smaller than in the past. This is due to the fact that around 2007 or 2008 the economy took a nosedive and the exhibitors were forced into smaller booths. The exhibitors and vendors found that they could sell just as much with a smaller booth space and most did not have a couple of thousand dollars to 50,000 dollars to spend on a convention when the sales were very slow.
After listening to Dawn Avery’s presentation on digital marketing I went into the exhibit hall and ran into an old friend, Bobby Patel of Kona Cleaners in L.A. who has started a company and is working with Spot POS software named “Review My Drycleaner.Com.” If you need to have a digital presence with Facebook, Google, Yelp and/or Yahoo this is your go-to place along with NCA’s digital division.
There was a lot of interest in Trevil’s one-shot pant-pressing machine. It was demonstrated at last year’s Clean Show and can completely press the tops and creases in the legs of any type of trouser. When Stuart Ilkowitz first told me the price it almost took my breath away, but Stuart explained when you financed it for five or six years and got the cost per week it is highly possible to replace a pant presser with a completely untrained person in about ten minutes of instruction. The labor savings will be more than the payment and you have a good-looking pair of trousers with perfect creases, consistently.
On the marketing side I stopped at the GreenEarth booth and talked with Joe Blaha about their marketing program that is highly respected by the GreenEarth cleaners who use it. They have beautiful hangtag designs, promotional pieces, posters and a line up of other marketing pieces to greatly enhance your businesses. They and Sanitone are two companies I know of who offer a great marketing package to their customers.
It would be difficult to describe every exhibitor’s product but the ones who were exhibiting all had new ideas for marketing, digital media, newly designed re-designed equipment, and if you are not familiar with the National Cleaners Association (NCA) I would strongly suggest that you look them up on-line under NCA-I.com or jingle on the phone at (800) 888-1622 and ask them to send you some information on the association as I believe you will be overwhelmed with what their members have access to. They cover all sides of the industry very well including marketing both print and digital, printed material of both technical, and management at a very affordable price.
To those who asked me about attending the convention I stated at the last Clean Show that it would be the last convention I attended. And that is true for the Clean Show due to the fact that it has much walking to see all of the exhibitors. II attended the NCA convention because I was personally asked by the Executive Director, Nora Nealis, if I would attend and after seeing the lineup of speakers, my youngest daughter’s 50th birthday the week after the show in New Hampshire, the gorgeous leaves turning to many exotic colors and a love to travel, it was a no-brainer, so I may also show up at the California show next year.