Time does not sit still. They say if you wait on it or resist it, you lose. I have come to believe that is true, though regrettably so. It is without question that our industry continues to change. A new generation comes by again and new ideas and new hope arrives for those who wish to remain optimistic. My problem is that I have resisted change for so many years because when I look back, I don’t see progress – I see regress. But not in everything. That is where and how we have to make a difference.
Denying Progress Is Not Customer Satisfaction
We all wish for top quality and the highest price we can manage. Every drycleaner and laundryman wishes so. I was the same way when I owned plants in the 1970s. I wanted to be different from Dad and Grandpa, whom, I figured was doing it all the wrong way anyhow. As I grew older I began to realize that I was so wrong. But, if denying progress makes your marketplace and service not commensurate with what your customers want, then it is all for naught. In other words, “the customer always comes first.” Sadly, that is not always true today in so many business and industries in America.
But, not to worry because the sharpest operators I know in our industry do the right thing and are on top of their game. It is no longer business as usual with this generation. Newer equipment, as was recently displayed at the Clean Show in New Orleans, with more eco-friendly cleaning solvent choices, along with modern marketing plans will lead today’s cleaners and laundrymen to more efficient operations.
We Have Over Built With Too Many Plants The Past 10 Years
One of the things this slumping, sagging economy of the past 5 years has taught us is that we must operate more efficiently. Then again, history does repeat itself. I remember the terrible downturn and slump of the 1970s as being far worse than this economy today. The only reason that the pain has been worse this time around is due to the lower volume of garments that we have today. It’s harder to manage those margins in today’s market. As always, tough times lend to leaner operations. The closing of many plants, though sad, show that attrition takes over eventually and the market playing field is level again. Plainly put, we over built the past ten years.
I’m all for us charging what we should charge, but only charging what we feel we can charge is eroding our base. I too believe in an open market of pricing in any industry and there has always been room for discounting for certain things. However, with lower garment numbers, that method of running a plant is suffering more in today’s economy. Most operators realize the need and reduce their expenses, but the marginal operators cannot. It is very sad.
Once again, hope is the key word despite the slow growth of our industry and the dress down attitude of our customers, there always has been and always will be room for making a good living in drycleaning and laundry. Many of us have made decent money at this and some, if not most, will continue to do so. That is my everlasting hope and belief. The future of drycleaning and laundry is what we make of it.
Our friends in the distributorship side of this industry are suffering along with the rest of us.
Clean 2013 Was A Very Good Show
Sorry to have missed so many of you at the recent Clean Show in New Orleans. My friends tell me the convention was really good with pretty fair attendance. I hope everyone came away with renewed hope for his or her future in this great industry that has done so much for so many. I am particularly grateful. I have the greatest friends in the world in drycleaning. They are all hard working mindful operators just trying to get through these hard times. Now go out there and make some money!
I’ve been a writer for Cleaner & Launderer magazine for 20+ years. Randy and Albane Wente run a fine ship with the means to reach every outlet of marketing advertising in the country. The writers all have interesting information as well.