Never did anyone in their wildest dreams think that the entire GLOBAL dry cleaning industry would be forced to make such dramatic changes: store front counters closed, drycleaners dropped from essential service list, pick-up and delivery as about the only means of serving customers, making of masks (to protect and serve the community, maybe even to pay the rent), and suddenly NEARLY EVERY SINGLE DRYCLEANING CUSTOMER WORKING FROM HOME, in their PJ’s and skivvies. Demand and incoming orders dropping or dropped 80 to 100 percent; all this literally overnight.
What a difference 24 hours can make.
Like many of you, I’m still in shock. But, again, like many of you, one can’t give up, can’t sit still, can’t sit and wait, one HAS TO KEEP ON.
Many of you are looking for looking for advice, help and support. There is only so much capacity to provide assistance, and unfortunately many of those channels are overwhelmed and breaking down, globally. I think I can now visualize what it was like on the decks of the Titanic 107 years ago.
But, I can offer a 24 hour support resource for you. It’s absolutely free, it’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and it’s staffed by over 1,300 people literally around the world (as of writing this piece) and proud to say during this crisis it looks like its doubled in size. Here is a link:
You will find a compassionate global community of cleaners just like you. Yes, global. Odds are, while you are staying up late struggling to get to sleep but your current business problems are keeping you awake, come join the Cleaner & Launderer Community, someone is likely up and there for you. Read what has been posted, read the replies. There is a wealth of information. And if your particular question has not already been discussed and answered, post yours! You may be surprised at the information that may be offered to you.
There is a lot going on behind the scenes right now. Individuals and associations have been hard at work in ways you may never see publicized. I’ve witnessed and even participated in efforts to reverse decisions that resulted in drycleaners being removed from essential services lists. I’m so proud to see association and individual efforts organizing cleaners, tailors and seamstresses into mask, gown and headband making teams to get PPE to front line healthcare workers, and now many are supplying the general public. (If you need patterns to make masks and gowns, you can download the pattern in PDF form from the CLC Facebook group mentioned earlier) Yes, masks are now a fashion statement! You might want to consider getting in on this wave. I have a client that is just crushing it in their market getting all kinds of free Public Relations coverage, being featured on the news and in newspapers is beyond what any advertising campaign could have accomplished. The local community is responding by rallying behind the cleaner and is ordering customer made masks at such speed they can barely keep up with production.
Fashion certainly is changing. Many folks who are still working are working from home, and that means more often than not, PJ’s is the new work wear.
If you thought casual Friday cut piece counts by 20 percent, working from home is likely going to reduce piece counts by a further 80 percent. Worse, not that corporate America has experienced off-loading entire office space to their employees that can now telecommute and work remotely, I question if we are going to see a return to offices when the Virus is under control. New social distancing rules are certainly going to be in effect in office space, thus I can see a good portion of the work force continuing to work from home for some time yet. The entire industry now needs to focus on a whole new world of piece and service mix post Covid shut down.
Many cleaners pivoted from over the counter retail sales to focusing on contactless pick-up and delivery. With many communities ordered into shelter in place leaving customers with no or limited means of walking in for service, it just made sense to go to the customer. Not that switching customers from counter service to route service is ever easy, but again systems were pushed to breaking point with many failing.
Communication in time of crisis is absolutely key with many cleaners discovering flaws in their point of sale systems. From incomplete customer contact details, to severe limitations of being able to change messages, write new ones and send messages to whom and when the cleaner wanted to go outside the capabilities of some systems.
There is great uncertainty in store for this industry. Many cleaners simply do not have cash reserves to weather this storm. Landlords are demanding their rent; staff is demanding work and pay so they can meet their obligations. Government assistance is either too little, or not available at all. Many of you are simply cast into the storm tossed water and are almost completely left to your own devices to survive. As I wrote this, governments are discussing whether to start up economies again, or not, it’s changing hour by hour.
I do know that there is a small but extremely dedicated group of cleaners out there hard at work during these uncertain times working to invent new and better ways of doing business, and working hard to discover and dominate new markets they are discovering/creating. I don’t know what is in store for this industry post Covid, but I do know, this industry certainly will never be the same.