Quality Control

The dictionary defines quality control as “the process of inspecting products to ensure that they meet the required quality standards.” Quality control is necessary in every business if you want your business to succeed and grow. My mother, many years ago, was a quality control inspector for Johnson & Johnson. Back then, they only made medical supplies such as band aids, gauze, tape and back plasters. You might be amazed at the amount of those items that wound up at our house because of small flaws in the packaging. The products were safe to use but they did not meet the standards that Johnson & Johnson had set. In the dry cleaning industry, we deal with customers items that they expect to have returned in near new condition. That is why quality control is so important.

Is your business achieving the standards that you want and expect? Are your employees aware of your expectations or do you think your desired results will magically happen? Communication and training are the only way to achieve your desired results.

There are many methods of quality control. The simplest is achieved through inspection. However, quite often, our inspections take place as the last process. A garment is inspected just before bagging. At this point, if the results are not up to your standards, the garment is sent back. This costs you more money. It could also cause a delay in having the order ready for the customer. Your quality control must start at the beginning. I was able to get some helpful hints on quality control at www.qualityinspection.org and I have adapted them to our industry.

Pre-Production Inspection

At your marking station, the employees are supposed to check pockets, maybe sorting by color or wet cleaning/dry cleaning. They also need to be looking for spots, rips, missing buttons and anything else that might cause a problem later. Catching these items and tagging them appropriately will save time and make for happy customers.

During Production Inspection

This would be your dry cleaner/spotter. He/she needs to look over the garment and determine what type of cleaning would be most effective. Do the spots need to be pre-treated or post treated? Once cleaning, the garments need to be inspected again to determine all the spots are gone and there have been no mishaps. Often this step is missed. The garment goes up the line and may have to be returned.

The pressing is part of the “during production” process. They might discover a spot after partially pressing a garment. So the decision must be made by them to finish the garment and ignore the spot or return the garment to the dry cleaner. More work for everyone but a necessary one in order to keep the customer happy. I know this makes for unhappy employees at times but it is your job to show your employees that you all work as a team.

Final Inspection

In larger dry cleaners, it is done prior to bagging. In smaller facilities, the bagger may be responsible for this. It can be a boring job. One needs to make sure all the items are correct in the order. Are there any double ceases? Have buttons been replaced and seams repaired? Get out that lint brush and remove any remaining fuzz or animal hair. When I did this at my business, I was really diligent at the beginning but towards the end of the day, I have to admit, my standards may have been lower. This is not acceptable. These garments must go out in the best condition possible.

Final, Final Inspection

Randomly, you need to do a 2nd spot inspection. Take an order that has been completed and critique it. Is it up to your standard of quality? Would you be happy with this result if you were the customer?

A quality control approach can be very effective at ensuring your customers get the best service for their garments. Just these simple steps can boost your bottom line and keep your customers happy and returning!

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 jmshb@socal.rr.com.

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