Have you ever noticed how our industry gets bad images from others? No one really understands our type of work outside of a few owners. And the number is dwindling. Some of you may already have heard how plant numbers/stores are disappearing. Oh, give me the old days before government intrusion and the simple life. Customers were the same back then too. They did not know (and still don’t) how and why we do business the way we do. Back when clothes “made the man or women” as they would say, are quite different today. Standards have dropped but, in the end, we have to bend to the styles that are popular, even if it is for a short time. A well-dressed person has a standard they set for themselves that can make or break their look. There are still some stylish dressers out there and they know the benefits of wearing appropriate garments and where to go to get them dry cleaned, wet cleaned or laundered. Unfortunately for the educated customer they expect discount services to provide them with couture level cleaning for $1.50 or so. But some very worthy customers bring in expensive clothes. Yes, there are a small number of customers who know the difference, but we struggle to educate them none the less.
They Lack Passion
These “opinions” are all across the board and sadly our industry lacks respect from many. They think laundry when they visit us, this is the timeless disrespect they give us. To further accentuate the problem, along comes the government telling anybody within earshot that we are messy, mindless people who spew what they consider toxins all over our plants, even the satellite stores without equipment. The ads you see over the years are dreadful. Making fun of us as a shady business, lowly blue-collar workers. I am happy that we as an industry are not that way, except for a few slackers who consider drycleaning an ugly industry. They have other jobs and pleasures so they can escape their own plants and stores. They lack passion. They usually have mediocre plants because they bought a pig in a poke or never bothered to modernize or upgrade their plant.
We Are Not The Neighborhood Bang And Hang Club
But the general public still views us poorly and use different metaphors to laugh at us as a bottom of the barrel industry. Now before you get your feathers ruffled, you should know by now that the old cowboy does not paint every operator with the same brush. Most owners do a fine job and are conscience and dedicated businesspeople. They view their business as something to invest in themselves and their employees. We fight our way around the oppression that surrounds poor reputation and make it a goal to improve the notion of finer clothes and finer cleaning processes we offer. We offer much in advice, and care for their clothes with service that is above reproach. It can be done. We are not just the local bang and hang club. Our better operators in this industry are proud of their work. However, there are some poor operators. These Emmy Award winners don’t give two hoots about how they do business. They don’t take advice. They don’t attend meetings. They are not members of our local, state and national drycleaning and laundry associations. They are what many customers believe us to be just “pant pressers.” Period. Void of any skill, knowledge or qualifications.
As long as that opinion, by the public and some owners exists, we can never grow or we might become an industry with very few plants or stores in America. The odds are not in our favor as all indications and past warnings show clear evidence as a declining industry. So, if anyone wants to be around for another couple of decades, you’re going to have to improve your game. Marginal operators will disappear and not return. Image, yes image is our problem. That and a growing number of people who don’t care how they dress or look. These folks aren’t looking for drycleaning, laundry or even wetcleaning services. Our services must be professional and present an image ready to be accepted to customers. We could start by dressing like we are proud of what we wear. Not the latest style gimmick that the kids embrace. We gotta be proud of ourselves by golly! Think about it.
I’m headin to the wagon now, these boots are killin me.