Do You Appreciate Your Employees?

I believe many times we get lost in the fact of what we do for our employees. The economy has not been great and we have tried to find ways to keep our devoted employees. So we get caught up in the fact that we give them a job. We pay them on time and our checks don’t bounce. Some of us give them vacation days. Some of us give them medical benefits. We provide them with a pleasant and safe work environment. And darn it, they get free or discounted dry cleaning! But it is not all about what they are paid and what we give them. It is about respect. How often do you tell your employees when they do a good job? Employees know when they make a mistake because we always tell them. We expect them to not make mistakes and when they do, it irritates us! Think about it: Are you perfect? You never make mistakes? How many times do they do things right? Most of the time. But the only time they get recognition is when something bad happens.

Your employees make or break your business. It is time to develop a new attitude about your employees. The benefits you will receive will be invaluable.

1. Prepare an employee manual for your business. If you don’t have one, you need to have one. This sets the groundwork for your relationship with your employees. You spell out what you expect and they understand their working conditions. It is in black and white. Many of our industry consultants have prepared manuals that you can plug in your specifications. There are also canned software programs that you can buy and tailor to your business.

2. Try to give each of your employees one compliment a day. I know they are just doing their jobs but it is amazing how far one compliment will go. It will make them want to do better. Always greet them with a cheery hello (even if the boiler is down and your day is ruined) and when they leave, say good-bye and thank you. I guarantee you will be surprised how little effort you have to make and how they will strive to do their best. One owner keeps pennies in his pocket as a reminder. When he gives a compliment, he will transfer one penny to his other pocket. Whatever works for you, do it.

3. Celebrate their birthdays. If you have a large number of employees, once a month buy a cake and celebrate the birthdays that month. If you have a smaller operation, order pizza for the staff in honor of the birthday person. If you are able, give them the day off…with pay. It’s all about recognition. And this little gesture is invaluable.

4. Do performance reviews. It doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Emphasize what they are doing right. Employees know what they can improve on, so give some suggestions, but keep it positive. Everyone wants and needs to know how they are doing.

5. Have meetings with your employees so they know what your goals are. They are the ones that will help you achieve them. And when you meet one of your goals, share that information with them. After all, they helped you achieve it. I believe this is where most business owners are the weakest. Even if your operation is small, you need to have these meetings. They do not have to be long meetings but you need to touch base with your team. The employees really appreciate this.

6. Get rid of the bad apples. Bad apples bring down your entire operation. Sometimes we keep people because we think we cannot do without them, but if they are substandard, get rid of them! Employees will respect you so much more when you do. Because they know who the bad apples are.

These are just a few suggestions to think about and act upon. Remember, respect your employees and they will respect you more.

About Jackie Smith

Jackie Smith has been in the dry-cleaning industry for over 40 years. Her experience spans from owning a drycleaning business to working for Henderson Insurance Agency who specializes in the fabricare industry. She currently serves on the CCA Board as well as the board for So Cal Cleaners Association. She can be reached at

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