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Drycleaners Pick Biggest Challenges, Innovations of Past and Present

Ian P. Murphy |

CHICAGO — Asked to name the industry’s biggest challenges and innovations of the past 75 years for American Drycleaner’s upcoming 75th Anniversary issue, drycleaners offered a variety of answers, plus several keys for the industry’s survival into the future.
Not surprisingly, almost half (47.8%) of all respondents named environmental regulations as the biggest challenge faced by drycleaners in the last 75 years. But almost one-quarter (22.2%) said that easy-care fibers and fashion trends posed the biggest challenge, and 21.7% named professionalism and the poor public perceptions that result from its lack.
The most important innovation to debut in the industry in the last 75 years, 37.0% of drycleaners said, is dry-to-dry machinery. Automation and alternative solvents tied for second place, with 14.8% of respondents. Tensioning finishing equipment was named most important by 11.1% of operators, while point-of-sale systems, modern wetcleaning processes and the introduction of perc each took 7.4% of operators’ nominations.
Finally, when asked “What will help drycleaning continue to be a viable and important business over the next 75 years?” respondents named customer service the top choice, with 30.4%; adoption of alternative solvents was second, with 21.7%, and “professionalism” came in third with 17.3%. Cost-cutting, general improvement in the economy and keeping up with equipment trends were each named in 8.7% of responses.
Asking open-ended questions, this month’s survey elicited many responses indicating that operators will need to juggle several tasks in order to thrive into the future. “More quality-oriented drycleaners using environmentally safe production methods in stores focused on customer convenience,” one prescription for survival reads.
Subscribers to American Drycleaner’s Wire e-mails — distributed weekly — are invited to participate in an industry survey each month. The unscientific survey is conducted online via a partner website. Each survey is developed so it can be completed in 10 minutes or less. Readers are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define operator opinions and industry trends.
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About the author

Ian P. Murphy

American Drycleaner

Ian P. Murphy is a freelance writer based in Chicago, and was the editor of American Drycleaner from 1999 to 2011.

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