Piece counts are down. Casual dress is everywhere. Rent, labor and utilities are up. Staff is near impossible to find. Competition is rampant.
But really, it’s one of the most exciting times to own a dry cleaning business.
Because despite falling piece counts, rampant casual dress, impossible to find staff, abundant competition and increased rents, labor and utility costs, we can reinvent the entire industry every day.
Disruption is everywhere, and you can either be disrupted, or be the disruptor. Complain about how things are, or be the one being complained about because you are changing and adapting to the new realities within the market place.
I feel so blessed being able to work with some of the brightest minds in dry cleaning today, innovating new processes and business models out there today. Yeah, really, work with! Surprise! I’m not always creating the next new thing, sometimes someone contacts me and shares an idea or shares a concept they are working on with me. Innovation comes from literally every corner, crevice and mind, it’s not exclusive to ‘just a few’.
Who are these people? Well, I have a few as members of my client group, but there are many others just like yourself, laboring away in their plants, in cities big and small. There are no ‘requirements’ to be innovative, other than the basic initiative to refuse to accept things the way they are today, and the courage to challenge one’s self to come up with new ideas, then act upon them.
Yes, it takes courage to rock your own boat. Change is not easy as it takes a great deal of personal leadership which in turn leads to leading others.
Visionaries not only see the future, they create it. In addition to asking why, they also ask, why not? Then they roll up their sleeves and get to work experimenting, creating, failing and ultimately succeeding.
Take a look around your plant. We all want a better business, more customers, more sales, more efficiencies, faster, better, cheaper. What can you work on today that will make for a better tomorrow? Could it be better mark in procedures? A more efficient sales pitch prospecting for new customers on your routes? Maybe it’s completely out of the box thinking such as building a locker store?
Nothing we do today HAS to be done exactly the same way tomorrow. We don’t HAVE to settle to continue to do things the same old way as we’ve always done it. Look at companies such as Uber, Amazon and Apple, all were built on challenging the status quo and bringing products and services to the market in new and exciting ways.
Looking back on where I used to be all those years ago when I first opened up my first dry cleaning shop, it was an exciting time because new equipment and new concepts for doing dry cleaning were being introduced. The mini plant with tensioning equipment was just beginning to make its way into the market. Heck, it’s still new and innovative for some cleaners today. But, it hasn’t stopped. New fabrics hit the market, fashions have changed, and yes, piece counts went down, which meant coming up with new ways to reach out to customers, finding new markets and innovating to replace what became tired, worn out or nonexistent.
Looking at what one can do today to find new customers keeps me on the edge of my seat. Mass media such as radio, TV, magazines and newspapers, even the good old direct mail coupon gives way to social media, hyper targeting online ad systems, proximity marketing, reputation management. A lot of these new systems didn’t even exist ten years ago and now are so common place we can’t imagine or remember what the world was like without them. I get goose bumps thinking about the power of direct to market, the thousands, if not millions of people I can reach right from the keyboard I’m sitting at typing this article.
If you can’t get excited about the challenges your business faces, the challenges this industry faces, I think that your lack of excitement should be telling you something….you are on the way out. Coasting is a downhill affair, and if you are not willing to put the work in to making your business better, nobody else will be able to do it for you.
So, I’m asking you, do you want to be on the way up, or on the way out? If you’ve lost your way, please reach out to me via e-mail, telephone, or visit my web site and hit the contact me form. I’d be happy to spend some time with you and put you in touch with folks who are willing to invest some time with like minded individuals who are seeking empowerment to do better than they are today. They are out there, perhaps you are one of them………