Skip to main content

You are here

Let the Sun Shine: Value = Peace of Mind (Part 1)

By valuating the worth of your business, you gain comfort and perspective

CHICAGO — To thine own self be true. ….Good words.

Also good:  Know the true worth of your business.

Recognize the achievements you have made and the reputation you worked so hard for. Be thankful, in general, for the great things in your life, and specifically for your drycleaning business.

Do you know where your operation stands in the marketplace? It is to your strong benefit to know the real worth of your operation. There are many ways to accurately value your position.

One drycleaning owner who shares ways of valuating the worth of his business is Saro Semercian, owner of Harbour Cleaners in Huntington Beach, Calif., which specializes in wedding dress cleaning and restoration, and everyday garments such as dresses, slacks and shirts. Harbour also does rugs and outdoor patio furniture for its clients.

“My customers see value in my business by our attention to detail we provide on a daily basis,” he points out. This includes doing, as he says, whatever it takes to help clients. “They know we will stay open an extra 10 minutes if they are stuck in traffic. They know if they have an emergency and can’t leave home, we can accommodate them by an emergency delivery service.”

About worth, he relates how in a financial sense, he’s had friendly conversations with his customers.

“When they see a customer pick up a large order or two before I help them, and let’s say the grand total of both came out to be $160, they do a magical calculation in their minds and presume I average about $9 thousand a day! LOL!” He adds that: “They don’t get to see the slow gaps we also have during the day.”

We are in an industry that isn’t simple, Semercian notes. “We have a lot of moving parts, such as steam lines, traps, and more, that can have a hiccup at any moment.” He feels that is the hardest part of the drycleaning business, and says that’s the part customers don’t see.

There are other ways besides a client’s comments to honestly and accurately value your operation. Use all different ways to put together a complete picture of your dry cleaners worth.

“Most of my suppliers and friends in the industry have had kind words on how my business is run,” Semercian relates. “We are definitely not the biggest, we don’t have 10+ employees.”

But his peers, he notes, have been in the industry long enough to know that net income is what really counts, especially, he says, with wages and taxes going up every year in his state.

He explains that, “Here in California most of the agents go by the 10-12x monthly gross of your business. I for one don’t always agree with this assessment, I think location, rent, age of machines and quality, make a huge difference.”

Semercian says his location helps his business. “When I bought this store in 2004 in a one-mile radius we had 12 dry cleaners including me and today we are nine, with most of those being sold to new ownership more than once. So if or when I would sell, it would have to be well worth it.”

He thinks most drycleaning owners do know the approximate value of their businesses, but it’s all in how they perceive that worth, he thinks.

His father turned 78 recently, he shares, and says, “If he was the owner of Harbour Cleaners maybe he would be willing to negotiate the price if he was ready to get out of the business. I believe this is a tough subject that has a specific answer to it.”

Owners value their drycleaning operations’ worth by the bottom line, of course, but they also get a true sense of its place in the market by what the clients are saying and also simply by the enjoyment they get out of running their own business and doing a great job cleaning garments for their clients.

Semercian relates: “The advice I would give to my fellow dry cleaners would be to run your business and take pride in it on a daily basis.”

He notes that, “I’ve met owners that are all show and no go. They have a Ferrari store with a  4-cylinder Honda engine staff, in other words, great advertising, great store front, but quality in work and detail are missing.” And he’s met vice-versa, he also adds.

“All of us, as owners, should give our very best and that will always keep us growing and becoming prosperous. The ones that don’t, won’t last another 5-10 years,” this owner says.

“Give the absolute best quality for your price range, because there is a customer base for all of us,” Semercian concludes. “I’m a BMW trying to move into the Porsche sector. Can you tell that I love cars!”

He closes with this sentiment: “We will try to maintain ourselves as a lean, mean, cleaning machine.”


Check back Thursday for the conclusion.

saro family 2 web

Owner of Harbour Cleaners Saro Semercian with his wife and son last fall. Semercian relates: “The advice I would give to my fellow dry cleaners would be to run your business and take pride in it on a daily basis.” (Photo by Saro Semercian)

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected] .