CHICAGO — Modernize defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary: Having today’s views; characteristic of the present; contemporary, red-hot, space-age.
“Modernizing is a continuous process.
“Recently we have just finished incorporating Chat Bots to improve response times to customers that have questions or requests overnight or at busy times.”
That’s Gary Glover, owner of Richmond, Virginia-based Puritan Cleaners, an 82-year-old drycleaning company that serves retail customers with basic drycleaning and laundry services through 13 locations and 13 free home delivery routes throughout the area. Glover is the third generation owner and serves as president.
He discusses modernizing: “We changed to a cloud-based accounting system to allow real-time graphs and numbers, to help store managers so they can better manage costs.
“We placed payroll in a cloud-based and application-based system that allows for digital HR, and manuals and training materials, to be accessed electronically. And we are taking full advantage of our in-house Q3P program, which means: Quality through People, Product, and Presentation, to help direct our mission and corporate culture,” Glover relates.
Take us through your own decision-making process when you made your operation more modern?
Glover says: “Evaluate fairly what helps the customer or the associate from their point of view. Does the new system make it easier or faster for our customers and team members? Does this renovation make our retail space stand out as one of the nicest in our town?”
When he thinks of modernizing, Glover says it generally falls into three areas: “Our curb and interior appeal that our customers see; new technology and equipment to help our people be more productive and efficient; and adding new services or upgrades to better serve our customers.”
He goes on to note that they are constantly renewing and renovating their customer areas. “We use flat screen TVs, mounted both vertically and horizontally, to message and entertain our customers while they are visiting us.
“We use our vertically-mounted screens, which are cell phone-view oriented, for messages that match our online marketing. We use the horizontal ones to share our videos, photos of team members, and local or national TV feeds.
“In addition to the screens,” Glover adds, “we have also upgraded our lobbies with granite countertops, high-end fixtures, and bright LED lighting to reflect the high-end expectations of our customers.”
He indicates his operation also offers free home delivery and pickup, they are open on Sundays, have extended hours, and offer 24-hour drop boxes at most of their locations.
“We also offer in-car, curbside service at some locations. Customers can use auto-charge, Apple Pay, and Google Pay, so that their transactions are quick and easy if they’re in a hurry,” he says.
“In the rare occasion that they may stay a few minutes, we offer a coffee station, bottled water, candy and snacks — all complimentary.”
Glover says that new equipment upgrades are vastly important to all of his team members.
“Google platform communication system and Paycom payroll system have really streamlined all of our HR tasks, which has saved time, money, and allows us to place new team members quickly.
“Our people use online training sessions and videos so that they can learn new skills at their own pace, which makes them even more valuable to the company.”
MODERNIZING = EXCITING
Were you surprised at how much time and energy it takes in this modernizing process?
“There is always a cost in time and energy when it comes to renovation, but it is almost always worth it.” Glover relates.
“New systems and equipment add to the excitement of our team, rather than take it away. Bigger, newer, and faster raises our game, and our associates raise their game right with the innovation, every time,” he says.
“Our people often serve at multiple locations while changes are being made, which allows more and wider team interaction. This promotes an even better environment of teamwork and mutual success. In addition to all the excitement generated, renovated stores both customer-facing and on the production side show an 8% sales increase on average.”
How did your clients react to your modernized operation?
Glover says this: “Our customers had immediate reactions to our visible improvements, and often comment positively on them. This not only makes the customers feel better, but increases morale and improves service from our team members also.
“Customers often comment that our locations are nicer than they expected, and not like other cleaners that they’ve experienced. Many offer five star reviews. “The following is a comment from just one of our clients,” Glover gives as an example, “with the initials JB: ‘This is the luxury spa of dry cleaners. Plus, you go above and beyond with amazing services and friendly people! Granite countertops, an impeccably bright and clean atmosphere, cheery smiling faces, free refrigerated water bottles, hanger donation, fast service with efficient drive-through, drop-off and pickup, and so much more. This is a business that I want to invest in!’”
This example Glover provides, also serves to remind us that in the modern world today, reviews and comments, especially those posted online, can have a powerful, positive effect on your potential clients checking you out online and making a decision to use your operation’s drycleaning services.
Glover passes along this tip: “Companies that constantly move forward are more respected, enjoy increased sales and are better poised to take advantage of new technology as it becomes available. Make continuous improvement part of your corporate culture.”
Modernizing means sometimes you make continuous improvements and other times you overhaul and come out swinging with a whole new mindset and new way of doing business.
Check back Thursday for the conclusion.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].