Acting Toney On The Counter Won’t Cut It

Why do our counter clerks (some, not all) try and act like the “in crowd” in their dress when our customers come in the door? Thank goodness most do not do this but I have to tell you I am seeing this behavior more and more in our stores, and other industries as well. Naturally, I am talking about our Customer Service Representatives dress code. This toney style of dress is usually not proper dress for our plants Counter Service Representatives (CSR). Sadly, having poor dress that may be toney or stylish is not the way to represent your business that deals with something precious to most people: their clothing and how we treat it. This might be cool for after work dress but is not fitting for a CSR. Getting new customers today is focusing on the younger business folks. They have no idea what goes on in a drycleaning/laundry plant, and most don’t want to. 

Everything That Glitters Is Not Always Gold

I know I am sounding fuddy-duddy here but really, ask yourself, is this the best way to show your business off? After all, we are in the clothing business. We restore clothes and our CSR’s will represent this when they are trained and dress well. Gosh, once in a time when America had not lowered its standards and let folks “do their thing.” We lost interest in enforcing young people on the traditions of our parents and grandparent. My grandfather was the top spotter and drycleaner where he worked and was one of three spotters at that hotel. He came to work in a clean pressed white shirt with a necktie. I began to see that scene fade away in the 1970s. Probably the very last plant I saw with a drycleaner wearing a tie was a drycleaner/spotter/manager in 1982. Some of you are probably grumbling about now about the old cowboy, and I understand. I simply urge owners and managers or whoever the heck is in charge, to have a dress code and more importantly – enforce it! You own your business and you have a right to have a dress code and actually enforce it. I know many plant owners that keep a dress code in place to this day and they enforce it. Okay, we all know I am old fashioned, but there is an old saying, “Everything that glitters is not always gold!”

Now don’t mistake what I print here about wearing a tie today. I believe that garment ensemble is lost to the wilderness! OSHA has rules about ties in the workplace of machinery anyway. OSHA also forbids the wearing of headphones or buds while working around machinery. I firmly believe that rule/law should be enforced. It is dangerous and senseless to do such a thing. More times than not, when I coached a plant on that issue I was met with a roaring and resounding holler by the owner, “I can’t deny my employees listening to tunes, they might quit!” I get your point Mr. Plant Owner, but I would say if an owner/manager is scared of their employees, I shudder at the future! 

Another issue sometimes is with cultural differences affecting CSR’s.  Greater cultural understanding should be an essential part of training or development in your plant. One employee could actually offend another employee of race with a simple thing such as laughing, smiling, crossed arms, eye contact. This can be offending to some cultures. Your dress code can be challenging when some cultures dress different than we do in society. Our facial expressions and comments might offend others. It is a free country and we do have to follow the law and realize there are rules that will give freedom to other cultures and we don’t want to dismiss that. It is your business and you can run things your way but the law (especially in California) will give you grief if you don’t follow the rules of worker related labor laws. 

We Need To Respect Other Cultures In Our Workplace

For instance, there are many Asian as well, that companies in this country would do well to learn from them how to promote more teamwork. In their country there are too many people to not function with teamwork and efficiency. A group effort is so important as a part of society and to emphasize motivation. Tradition in any country fosters values to keep harmony and peace amongst us in every country. I really believe that is essential in the workplace, don’t you? Another example is that many cultures don’t cotton to a friendly back slapping as we do here. A study I read said “to show the total impact of a verbal or facial expression you should use results in seventy percent words and eye contact, regardless of culture issues.” We should be doing that all the time anyway, it’s called teamwork.

I hope this column suits you or if you differ with me so be it. I’d love to gets some comments back to my e-mail.

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.