SAN FRANCISCO — I was born the same date as Abraham Lincoln.
I wanted to be a doctor but could not stand the sight of blood.
At 25, I had a mountain named after me as a birthday present.
My best-known theory was “nicknamed” by someone else.
Who am I?
Answer: My name is Charles Darwin. (See photo.)
Why do you know me 137 years after my death?
Answer: Darwinism or the Theory of Evolution.
Darwinism is also known by the nickname, Survival of the Fittest, coined by Herbert Spencer in 1864 after reading Darwin’s book.
Defined in the dictionary: “The continued existence of organisms which are best adapted to their environment, with the extinction of others.”
What on earth does this have to do with the fabricare industry?.... Everything!
As the industry consolidates, all competitors are right in the middle of a battle for the survival of the fittest.
This industry has unlimited potential. The potential for reaching just 2% of the total textile care being done represents enormous growth.
Though no trade secrets are being revealed, let’s examine industry contraction, crisis by crisis, and how the survivors adapted.
The astute operators processed whatever items came their way and expanded services beyond suits and shirts. The real savior against the polyester suit itself was customers with taste who cherished the look and feel of natural yarns and garments. Because so many cleaners were frightened out of business due to their fear of the manmade fibers, there was plenty of business for the remaining companies to continue to grow and profit.
The “man in the gray flannel suit,” has largely disappeared from the business environs, but businesspeople everywhere continue to dress for work in something. In general, they still want to look and feel professional, attractive and clean, at work, and in social settings.
Providing their services when, where, how and why the customers want them has been the key to successful endurance. Client time constraints are accommodated by expansion of routes and 24/7 service to home, work, locker or other preferred location. Sophisticated customer communication systems within POS or through various apps has made this exceedingly easier to manage providing extensive timing and on-demand flexibility.
Some customers like the smart fabrics, but that doesn’t mean they like doing laundry. Complete wardrobe care addresses not only traditional fabrics and garments, but new fiber and treatment “smart” ones as well.
Wash/dry/fold services, including “family laundry,” address this lifestyle perfectly. They don’t mind if it isn’t pressed, even if you do. They just want control over their time — their most valued commodity.
Diversification beyond traditional garment dry cleaning and laundry has been a boon to many thriving companies. Some are doing vast amounts of restoration work including textiles and beyond. Ultrasonic cleaning applies to garments, shoes, toys, hats, purses, sports equipment, snow and camping gear and beyond.
Targeting off-season items when they are not being used, such as ski clothes and boots in the spring and camping gear in the winter, helps boost slow volume periods.
Rugs and cushion cleaning (inside and out of the home) have led to cleaning of home, office, boat, airplane and hospitality venue interiors and exteriors, including all the sharing economy locations, such as Airbnb.
The list is endless for the creative, motivated entrepreneur. Be their total wardrobe and environment caretaker.
When a legal, efficient cleaning solvent became the poster child for damaging the environment, it threatened operators’ peace of mind and hard-earned assets.
The creativity and resourcefulness of the industry suppliers, the persistence of operators and consumer need for fabricare services responded, resulting in more environmentally supportive alternatives. The industry persevered.
Automation, more user-friendly equipment, sophisticated software, and employee training have come to the rescue to continue to provide better faster cheaper products and services to consumers.
This is a very resilient and high-potential industry because it provides such an ego-centric service to an ego-centric clientele with a desire to spend their time doing other things that are more rewarding to them than wardrobe and home care.
Plan and prepare to be a survivor and you and your bottom line will benefit greatly.
To read Part 1, go HERE.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].