Sewing Services Hit The Skids

Sometimes my words are too negative for our industry. Overall, the majority of our nation’s drycleaners and launderers are first-rate operators. But, in order to educate and play the devil’s advocate, I must write these things and keep you informed. This months topic, as evident from this article’s title, is about what is happening to a once burgeoning service in alterations and general sewing. Sadly, the service is disappearing. In fact, the majority of today’s drycleaners don’t even offer the service. Yes, I know you “offer” it but you don’t actually do it yourself. Like leather cleaning (which really is justifiably not profitable for the average cleaner to do in house) sewing and alterations is a profitable in house service.

I’ve heard all the nays and arguments from “not enough business to afford a seamstress, the seamstress or tailor won’t work at my store so he can do proper fitting, it does not pay enough, people don’t want their clothes drycleaned before alterations or repairs are done, clothes are dispensable these days and not worth the cost of altering” and so on and so on, too many to list here,

but you get the general picture. And every argument has a point.

Oops, Here I Go Off On A Tangent Again!

Since most general customer service industries have fallen off their pedestal in actually offering good, educated customer service, our industry cannot afford to be off target on this very valuable skill. In fact, I still don’t see how any business of any kind can grow without top-notch, educated, customer service people. Customer indifference can be made at the counter, despite your otherwise good services. In my judgment our societal ills only promotes an indifference – don’t give a you know what – attitude that is killing industries these days. No one disagrees that it is hard to get good customer service… anywhere! Indifference, lack of work ethic, employees disgruntled over their pay, all of these employee complaints point to an ever worsening problem if people don’t change their ways. I hate to offer gloom and doom but I really don’t see it getting any better. History most assuredly bears this out!

Announcement: My No Show At The Texas Showcase

My friend Doc Holiday (AKA Stain Wizard) Jeff Schwarz tells me that my absence at the recent Texas show was noticed. I regrettably could not make it there due to family health issues. I announced in last month’s Cleaner & Launderer April issue that I would attend. My apologies to those I missed visiting with. I understand from Doc that attendance and participation was pretty fair.

Let’s get back to the study of sewing and alterations. I cannot imagine being without this most valuable and profitable service! I really mean that. How in perdition can you fix any rips or do any major alteration without your tailor being in house. I can guarantee you that a great deal of alterations are mangled because one cannot get a perfect alteration without being fitted. Different wordage and terms for this and that differs from alteration person and customer counter person is a great deal. Customers say it wrong to the counter people who may not be educated on sewing and alteration terminology, The CSR repeats and writes it wrong on the ticket and the tailor is scratching his head on what to do. Example: “fixing a hem” can mean a dozen things. One MUST be specific.

Your Seamstress/Tailor Can Be Your Best Friend

Another great thing about this service in house is that all operators need the help of your sewing expert in bailing out of a problem (in cleaning or pressing) that the seamstress can fix. They are a valuable person to have on board. Imagine getting a turnaround service within two to three days or less like we used to give? You are lucky today if you can get even a rip fixed in less than a week by the time the cleaner sends it out and gets it back to the shop. It is also very profitable if you charge the right amount that is fair. Most major alterations such as a hem shortened job or waist alteration sells for around $15 nationally. That is too low. So, in conclusion, think about getting a seamstress or tailor. It will pay dividends for you and your customers.

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: or go to: www.

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