Clean 2015: Refinements Generate Enthusiasm (Conclusion)

Diana Vollmer |

Array of offerings extensive, designed with dry cleaners in mind

SAN FRANCISCO — Excitement is the word that best describes Clean 2015 just completed in Atlanta. The excitement wasn’t generated by the innovation or the creativity, but emanated from the participants, both exhibitors and attendees alike.

The enthusiasm for the refinements that have been made to existing products, services and equipment was a large part of the upbeat atmosphere. But more importantly, the anticipation that the current upturn in the industry will continue into an even brighter future was prevalent and pervasive.

Past “lookers” placed orders. Education sessions were packed and directed at profitable expansion. In particular, the seminars targeted capturing the next generations that outnumber the aging baby boomers that the industry has relied on for so long. Many examples were highlighted describing successful forays into new areas of development. Most of the sessions were made available for review online through the sponsoring organization, so if you missed the original presentation, it may not be too late to access the material.

On the show floor, exhibitors showed that they had made strong efforts to improve your operations by presenting well-thought-out additions to their offerings.

INNOVATION IN REFINEMENTS

Environmental Advances — Almost everyone has adopted some form of green initiative, and most continue to increase those efforts.

Most notably, water reduction and recycling efforts have taken center stage, especially with the continued drought in California re-emphasizing the issue in the daily news. One expert provided the following guideline relative to calculating return on investment on their water recycling system: “If the water and/or sewer bill is more than $7 per 1,000 gallons or the energy bill is over 70 cents per therm, the ROI should be two years or less based on the number of gallons of water used per month.”

Other ecology advances continue to proliferate in:

  • Packaging
  • Resource minimization
  • Health and safety
  • Recycling

Fashion Manufacturer Relationships — Working and partnering with the fashion industry and manufacturers is critical to cleaners that want to have raving fans as clients. Having access to the unique accessories from the designers is crucial for replacements when necessary, and mutual referrals of customers is beneficial to both cleaner and fashion house. More of these partnerships were visible at Clean, including:

  • Designer trim and button availability
  • Specified processes on care labels
  • Specified solvent brands on care labels

Practical Applications — There was an array of highly practical solutions to challenges faced by cleaners and their staffs. Some of these solutions included:

  • A mini-box truck that bridges the size gap between a delivery van and a full-size box truck
  • A manual, one-person sweeper (with a design based on street sweepers) to keep plant and exteriors debris-free
  • LED lights that attach to equipment using magnets for focused and concentrated light
  • Snag-proof polos for staff uniforms
  • Multi-size, alternative-stitch button machines

Employee Comfort and Safety — Especially as the labor market heats up and as workers’ compensation rates increase, don’t forget your team comfort, health and safety. Some of the offerings in this category included:

  • Anti-fatigue mats
  • Portable and fixed fans for temperature control
  • Recirculating fans built into the equipment that draw heat away from the operator and recycle the heated air to reduce energy needs of the unit
  • Ecological chemicals and materials that provide for a healthier air quality and safer handling
  • Foot massage units that can be mounted under break-room tables

Diversification — Diversification continues to differentiate cleaners in their markets. Some operators have demonstrated success in the areas where opportunities were offered in the show, including:

  • Household linens, rugs, and pillows
  • Medical office services
  • Salon services
  • Embroidery, especially for company logo items and monograms
  • Handbag cleaning and repair
  • Shoe care and repair
  • Ever more advanced delivery alternatives for home and business route, lockers, mail, and 24/7 kiosks

Outsourcing — For those of you with no interest or facility for diversification internally, outsourcing is available for all of the services mentioned.

Supplier Consolidation — Distributor and supplier consolidation continues in the industry, leaving the combined companies stronger than the individual predecessors.

Just-in-Time Delivery — Finally, there is an ever stronger emphasis on managing the inventories to provide only what is needed for the immediate future. This is being addressed by:

  • Same-day delivery guarantees
  • Hanger assembly on site via a hanger-making machine

The array of offerings in the Georgia World Congress Center was extensive and designed with you, the operators, in mind.

If you were unable to attend Clean 2015, it isn’t too late to benefit from the offerings made available there, but I highly recommend that you plan now to attend the next industry show available to you.

The news, the networking, and the in-person exposure to the suppliers and their offerings is invaluable—even if you don’t need anything at the moment.

Miss Part One? You can read it HERE.

About the author

Diana Vollmer

Methods for Management (MFM) Inc.

Managing Director

Diana Vollmer is managing director of Methods for Management (MFM) Inc., a consultancy specializing in drycleaning businesses. You may contact her at [email protected], 415-577-6544.

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