I had the opportunity to spend some time working along the Gulf Coast this past week and have to say there are some very impressive plants in that area. Standing in the lobbies chatting with owners I saw some great examples of customer service. Customer service reps that knew their customers by first name, expressed concern and listened to the customers needs, helped to educate the customer and answered questions pertaining to their garments care. Not to mention that business was booming (I learned that Mardi Gras is good for the dry cleaning business). Quite refreshing!!!
Making the long drive back from Mobile to Atlanta gave me time to reflect on the conversations I had this week with plant owners from that area, as well as a recent conversation with a plant owner of a high end cleaners in Malaysia. I thought about the cleaners I know from Nashville (cleaning entertainers garments), the cleaners I have met in the coal mining areas of West Virginia and Kentucky, the few days I spent working at a dry cleaning plant in St. Kitts, West Indies, those operating plants in the Knoxville area near the Smokey Mountains, the cleaners along coastal Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, as well as the cleaners right here in downtown Atlanta and Buckhead. Over the last 25+ years in the industry, I have met many. But the thing that really struck me was the fact that it doesn't really matter where you are located, Asia or Alabama, whether you have 1 employee or 100 employees or whether you have been open 1 year or 50 years, the vast majority of dry cleaners face the same problems and issues on a daily basis. Let me say that again, the vast majority of cleaners face the same problems or issues as you experience in your dry cleaning operation.
One of the ways I have found the more successful operators use to be better equipped to handle the problems we encounter as owners of dry cleaners is to network. They know their competition, discuss problems with their peers, belong to trade associations, etc. In today's business climate the small business owner has to hone their business skills, using every angle to be successful and to stay successful. I urge all plant owners to not let their ego get in the way of success, get out there and meet your competition, invite them to lunch and talk with them, join a trade association, join a management group, go to a seminar, go to Rotary, Kiwanis, promote your business in your community or church, talk to your sales reps and your manufacturer's reps. Even though the problems we all deal with may be common, you may just find there are some un-common solutions to the issues you are dealing with.
3 months ago