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Wednesday, March 31, 20100 comments

ATLANTA - Everyone has to start somewhere and there is a first time for everything.  Today I had the combination of both.  I had a new plant owner, just starting out and this sales/service call was going to prove to be a first for me also. Let me explain.  I was asked by one of the distributors of my products, if I could stop by and meet a new owner of a dry cleaning operation that had recently been purchased from a foreclosure situation.  The plant owner had basically been handed the keys, as is such when this type of sales takes place and in he went.  Starting from scratch, with no idea of how anything works, just operating on blind faith.  Here in the Atlanta area, I have the opportunity to work with many immigrants to our country, who choose to get into our industry. You have to admire the entrepeneurial spirit and blind faith that they bring with them.  Unfortunately, there is often a huge communication gap, this often seems to translate into poorer quality, not from choice as much as from just not understanding the process. That was the situation at this business. 
Apparently the poor owner was having a problem with his stain removal agents.  He was doing a so-so job removing stains, but his bigger issue, the one he was complaining about, was when he placed the garments in the dry cleaning machine with any stain removal agents on them, they would come out of the machine as if they had been untouched.  The stain removal agents remaining in the exact place he had worked on. He had been open about one week at this point. 
The owner met me at the counter, he seemed a little irritated, but not too bad, then again, his English was very broken and he probably had never heard the term snakeoil salesman (that's a story for another day) or possibly he was calling me something similar in his language.  He proceeded to tell me that we have a problem with the chemicals we manufacturer and that he was going to return them to his distributor.  He also felt that we needed  to check into the problem at the factory.  I proceeded to discuss proper stain removal procedures, how to use POG and VDS correctly, as well as wet-side stain removal agents and leveling agents.  Of course, being a first time meeting, he felt I was not only evading his problem but trying to sell him additional products.  With a little more discussion, I was able to finally get back into the plant and look at the drycleaning machine. That was when I spotted the problem.  The machine was running alright, but no one had ever informed him that he actually needed a solvent in the machine!!!
Yep, the machine was bone dry, he was truly doing some DRY cleaning. I have seen some machines running very low on solvent, but never anyone  cleaning in a machine that was totally dry and I estimate I have been in over 1500 plants!  I got a pretty good chuckle out of the situation and proceeded to go over a very condensed version of Dry Cleaning 101 with him. After a short while, he understood, realizing he had a lot to learn and he think he felt a bit sheepish, too.  In the end, he will probably be okay, he seems to be trying hard to learn as much as he can and to do a good job, in decent area with good traffic flow and minimal competition.

Solvent levels are crucial for quality dry cleaning. Make sure the base tanks are at least 3/4 full, make sure the filter housings are full of solvent too. If you have questions, ask your distributor sales rep or manufacturers rep.

Check your solvent levels!!!  (a subject for another day)  


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