Loyalty In Drycleaning, Laundry And Life

While looking ahead as this fresh New Year begins, I can’t help but feel nostalgic. A lot has happened to our industry in 2013 and not all of it was positive. A lot has happened in my personal life and not all of it is positive either, but on the whole, life is good both in and out of this great industry we make our living at. When I talk to colleagues and friends within our industry, a single word keeps popping up in my mind: loyalty. As business people with a dependency on our customer base, we also view the word with hope and admiration. As a young man entering into the Marine Corp in 1970, I was taught that loyalty was forever a code word for breathing. No one dared question the importance of loyalty. In fact, I cannot think of any trait of humans that I admire more than someone being loyal.

“I Would Rather Retire”
This mindset spills into our love of working for the other fella too. You know, it has been said that “we all serve somebody,” none of us are omnipotent in importance and none of us are irreplaceable. The graveyards are full of indispensible people. It seems as though when we run a business or maintain human relations, we are subject to the ever-important desire to know that loyalty is the guiding light. As an employee, I would wish my employer to be loyal to me and value my work ethics and the code I live by. If he or she should not see that value or acknowledge my well-earned loyalty, then I don’t wish to be working for them anymore. The same holds true of employers. Why on earth would we want anyone working for us that are anything less than totally loyal? God forbid I had a crew of 6 or 600 that did not feel loyal to me. I would quit the business. I would rather retire to the farm, put on a wooden beak and pick…with the chickens!

“Having A Code”
A “Code of drycleaning” always impressed me and I recollect IFI (now DLI) printing one years ago. Of course, they are only words that people may or may not live by, but at least it was a guide. Having a guide or code reminds me of the Roy Rogers/Gene Autry “code of the west”:
1. Live each day with courage
2. Take pride in your work
3. Always finish what you start
4. Do whatever has to be done
5. Be tough, be fair
6. When you make a promise, keep it.
7. Ride for the brand (honor the company you work for)
8. Talk less, listen more
9. Remember that some things aren’t for sale
10. Know where to draw the line

I see little difference in this code and one we should live by in business or industry. Honesty to one’s job and employer should guarantee loyalty and wanting to do the best job possible. If disagreement occurs, one simply moves on rather than drag the company name down with them. This is probably why little, if any, notice is ever given to an employee being fired. The collective damage that can occur is not worth keeping an employee around a few more weeks to slowly say goodbye. Once the code has been broken, no one wants to work in that place anymore and you can be sure there will be little love lost.

Losing customers because of an unhappy employee at a drycleaners is paramount to the ultimate doom. Without the loyalty of your staff, you cannot stay in business. It isn’t enough that we must compete with the other cleaners in the neighborhood. We must also compete with the employee to make sure they are loyal and will keep the company name first.

“Not Every Boss/Company Is Worth Working For”
This is when you flat out leave. Employment is an agreement when you are in a management position. If either party is compromising loyalty, it is time to split. I have seen bosses that were not fit to work for and had no business being in a position of authority. Naturally, in a decent world that still does not give anyone the right to slaughter the company name. You simply end the “agreement” and move on. Anyone that is in a position to offer me employment is my newest best friend. Until they cross the line. That would be the same line they expect me not to cross as an employee.

Loyalty is a two-way street. In a perfect world these things need not be discussed. Naturally, it is no perfect world. Always strive to do your best and not be defeated. Stand your ground, but be fair and honest. If we practice this, most likely we will remain employed and never do a days work (so to speak). It will be that pleasant in the work place. Go out there and tackle the world. It can sometimes be cruel but by and large a wonderful place to work. We have some of the best people in the world in our industry.

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: kslatten@aol.com or go to: www. kstraining.com.

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