CHICAGO — In a tight labor market, many dry cleaners are revising their playbooks and looking for ways to fill positions and minimize turnover. For this American Drycleaner Your Views survey, we asked our respondents to describe your methods for keeping employees loyal to your business.
When we asked our audience to describe their current labor situation, one third (33%.) said that “we have all the help we need,” while another third reported that there were “constantly looking to fill positions.” While 16.7% responded that “it’s good but could be better,” the other 16.7% said that “we can’t offer some services because of staffing issues.”
Part of fighting staffing issues is to prevent the turnover of trained team members, and a little more than half of our respondents are finding success on this front, while the other half is struggling. In our survey, 41.7% reported that they had “almost no turnover,” while 16.7% said that they had “positions open, but we are able to fill them.” On the other side, a quarter (25%) of those responding said that “turnover is a major challenge,” and 12.5% said “we can’t keep people in the job.”
Part of finding and keeping people on the job is, of course, compensation. When asked how our owners have changed employee compensation in the past year, half (50%) said they have offered “raises across the board.” Tied at 16.7% each were those who offered “raises based on seniority” and “raises based on performance.” The remainder of the audience, at 12.5%, report they have “not increased wages in the past year.”
Pay isn’t the only way to show appreciation, however. We also asked our respondents, besides pay, what other benefits have they put into place to keep employees? In addition to benefits such as vacation, flextime schedules, answers also included:
- A comfortable work atmosphere. We get to know our staff and help them when they need it.
- We've given perks at different times to great employees as needed or as deserved (free haircuts, paying for some chiropractor visits).
- Free dry cleaning, flexible hours, celebrating birthdays with a lunch, and in the summer we have the ice cream truck visit us several times.
Many of today’s employees also require different leadership style than what might have worked in the past. When asked how they’ve adjusted their own styles in this area, answers from our audience included:
- More open public displays of affection and appreciation.
- It's a continual work in progress to make time for meetings and make sure our employees know we care about them and are listening to their needs.
- Getting feedback on about their concerns.
- You certainly have to put up with things you would not have in the past.
Finally, additional comments from our respondents included:
- Our industry was never meant to pay $22 to $25 an hour for pressers, but we had to adjust our pricing so that we can.
- Employees are our most important asset. Take care of them. Not just with dollars, but seek a personal relationship with them. Show them how much you care about their general welfare.
- We are still dealing with a what I term “Covid Economics” — minimal staff, working harder, adapting delivery and work to remain in business.
The “Your Views” survey offers a current snapshot of the trade audience’s views. The publication invites qualified subscribers to American Drycleaner emails to participate anonymously in the unscientific poll each quarter.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].