Buying Or Selling A Business

This is never an easy decision, for most folks. Especially if they are buying a business like our industry. Most of this issue will cover the buyer’s concerns. Sellers may actually gain some information here as well. So many people buy a cleaners or laundrywith far too much emotion attached. Clean 2013 will have stimulated some potential buyers that are looking into our industry and they will have plenty to learn. New Orleans and the Clean Show always garner the most respect and interest in our industry. People who don’t normally attend local or state shows will usually attend the national one. These hopeful entrepreneur spirited looky-loo’s will have many choices to make with several franchise companies looking for a prospect to add to their number.

This is a great industry. Few people in my forty-two years as an adult operator and trainer have ever told me it was a mistake to go into our field. However, the few that have regretted it were pretty vocal! Sorry, but you were unprepared, bought on emotion and went in for all the wrong reasons. For this reason, I have always been a touch skeptical of buying a franchise. It’s not that they aren’t good and well meaning companies. Anytime any company grows and franchises, trouble brews like a hound dog wailing at night. If more prospects would seek the counsel of professional trainers that have actually learned and became certified to teach and advise in this industry, they would save themselves a lot of money and heartache down the road.

Are you still learning from your mistakes and trying to make a go of it? Sure you are, most all people want to, but some fall short of victory. Again, in the industry for all the wrong reasons. I have heard and watched helplessly as well minded but ignorant good folks start up in this business with silly thoughts like, “my drycleaner does not do a good job so I decided to buy a cleaners and make a go of it.” Never mind that they did not bother to listen to counsel, do research, or go to school. They just “think” they can do a better job. Many of these people have also told me that they always liked clothes so wanted to be able to clean their own wardrobe for free. How is that for careful business thinking? Ha! I have many more stories that I have heard over the years, been amused by them, and wished them the best. These folks will fail, indeed. Everyone seems to think drycleaners are dumb and they can do it better. Oh me, oh my.

There are certain standards we must follow (or guidelines) to keep in mind when considering a purchase. First and foremost, any potential buyer (or seller) should have a one-year, five-year, 10 year and 20 year vision for their business. Yet, many a looker will only have a “hand full of want and a mouthful of gimmee.” Naturally like most of us they want a great deal from the former owner and hopeful pay as little as they can. But do they have the same vision the seller may or should have had? Rarely does either. I am constantly amazed at the number of operators who have no vision for their future. It’s day-to-day grind without seeing the forest for the trees. This sometimes-senseless passion to own a business can cloud one’s judgment. Many new store franchises and hopeful big shots with big investors have come and gone in our industry that set out to be the biggest and the best. Sadly, few reach the pie in the sky.

According to Robert Klueger in his book, Buying & Selling A Business, there are many steps and considerations. It is a generic view and each industry has different challenges and oddities. Drycleaning and laundry is like no other industry in the world. We have not been able to McDonaldize it, and it is no cookie cutter industry. Every day and every garment is different. My father once told me that simply wanting to own a business is not reason enough to do it. There must be a market for the product. Far too many people think that a business that seems like fun will be the thing to do but in reality it is a genuine mistake.

Questions To Ask Yourself:

• Do I have the necessary skills and am I willing to invest in training? Are I suited for this industry?

• Is my lifestyle suited for this type of business? Not many realize the complications and hard work involved in drycleaning and laundry. The ridiculous pricing we have and constant employee turnover is enough to make some operators want to run a way to a foreign land and hide.

• Most importantly, is there a need for this business? A shockingly high number of potential and hopeful buyers are simply distressed with their current job or are just mad at their cleaner. Not a good reason to look for as plant.

I like to ask myself in a private moment if I were a buyer: Just why does this person want to sell off if this is such great a deal? There could be personal, honest reasons. Maybe the seller knows there are bad times ahead. Maybe he just isn’t making enough money. Maybe there is no reason or hope for growth in their location. A potential buyer sure would not think about that.

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.