As I write this, many cities, entire states and provinces, are on the knife edge of going back into full shut down deciding what businesses can be open and operating. Our governments are trying everything they can to control the spread of this virus, even dictating what items can be allowed to be sold in stores. Yes, next door in Manitoba, the government has banned the sale of non-essential items so as to discourage anyone from going out shopping (which likely will horrify any American reading this article). These truly are exceptional times, and we are in uncharted territory.
While there are effective vaccines on the cusp of being approved, now is the time where it’s darkest before the dawn, and perhaps the light at the end of the tunnel may be an oncoming train. You may be wondering, why so pessimistic? Well, because, I’ve been there.
My career has not always been wine and roses. There have been rough spots. Like many of you, I have had to face my share of adversity, set backs and even shutting down, getting out of business.
Mea cupla. (I admit it).
When I first started out in this business, I was deep in debt with a large bank loan. I knew just enough about cleaning clothes and pressing that I could turn out decent quality. I was scared to death about difficult spots and stains and how to remove them without damaging a garment. I had no customers. I didn’t know anyone in the city I had moved to and set up shop. I didn’t even know how to promote my services to get customers. But, I was determined to make my business a success.
I threw myself into my business to make it work. I worked 80 to 120 hours a week, networking to meet new people, spending money I didn’t have getting ads out into the neighborhood to expose my business to potential customers, making ridiculous offers just to get people (and their clothes) into my door in hopes of converting a first time customer into a regular and repeat customer. Sometimes my offers were profitable. Sometimes they cost me more than they paid in return (losses).
My results and my efforts were all over the map. Inconsistency is not your friend and it can get you in trouble. Too many bad decisions, wrong guesses, bad luck and just plain screwing up, can get you into arrears on your utilities, paying rent to your landlord and no money to pay staff. Yep, been there. Mea Culpa.
So, the utilities company just served with notice that if you don’t catch up on what you owe, they are going to cut off your water, your power, your gas. Your landlord just sent in the Sheriff and taped the notice on your wall that you have 14 days to pay your arrears on rent, or face further action (eviction). The bank account is empty. You can’t borrow anything more because all avenues of credit have been used up. Even friends and family are tapped out giving or loaning you money. Well, maybe it’s time to go.
Look, this business isn’t for everyone. And now, with Covid once again raging, now is the perfect time to exit and move onto something else.
It’s the perfect excuse.
And you are likely to get off pretty lightly. Why? What bankruptcy judge is going to throw the book at you during a pandemic where people are staying away in droves, demand for your business has dropped to the floor and governments are shutting down entire economies forbidding businesses to operate. Any Judge in his right mind is likely to look at your situation and draw the conclusion that there simply is no way anyone could do much more, and shield you from a lot of creditors, and give you a clean slate to start over, somewhere else.
There is no shame in quitting. In fact, it might be really good for you, and your family, if you simply faced the realization that the cleaning business isn’t for you.
Yeah, your family.
You may think that because you haven’t been able to draw a check out of your business and you’ve been evicted from your house for not paying your mortgage, your family will put up with living in the back room of your shop. Your three and four year old kids can sleep in the laundry baskets until things pick up again. You and the misses can use the pants press as a dining room table until you can build sales back up and get back on your feet.
Look. You and I may have been able to tolerate such hardships as single people, BEFORE we had a wife, and kids, and justify our actions by calling it the price of success. But really?
Seriously folks, it’s time to go.
Do the rest of us a favor, pull the pin.
The longer you drag this out, the harder it is for all the rest of us.
It’s extremely difficult to compete with a desperate person. You can’t reason with the unreasonable. A desperate business person will do anything to prolong the inevitable. The promises and offers a desperate person will make is astounding, and make the rest of us cleaners still operating, still trying to make a good business with fair pricing, look really bad. How can you compete, or even match a four for one offer, a buck a garment, bring any order and I’ll clean and press it for 20 dollars?
Customers will take advantage of any business, even one in the throngs of a death spiral. Have you ever noticed all the old orders hanging on a conveyor in a closed dry cleaning shop? Those customers could be going to another cleaner, one that knows how to price for profit, how to manage for efficiency, operate a real business that provides opportunity and fair wages for staff, pays taxes on profits, and contributes to the local economy. A healthy economy requires healthy businesses, and an unhealthy business desperate to hang on, drags us all down.
I know it’s a difficult decision, but, perhaps it’s time to go.
Once you make the break, it’s very liberating. Life can be wonderful taking a job, working for someone else, with the only pressure you face is having to show up and just do work and collect a paycheck. A paycheck you can take home, cash and put a roof over head for your wife and kids. Maybe even save a little, putting some aside so that when the time is right, and the world has returned to some form of normal, you can perhaps take that chance once again.
Yes, there is a life AFTER laundry.