Personal Care and Positive Attitudes

James Smith |

Every drycleaning store needs to stand out from the competition — particularly in times of economic instability. And there are key strategies you should have in place in your plant now to ensure it’s the best.
One of the most cost-effective ways to improve your business’ viability is encouraging a positive, engaging attitude from the top down. If you treat your employees with respect, they will feel valued as people and as employees, and emulate your positive attitude.
You can do this even when setting company policy. Since you’re in the appearance business, for example, staffers need to look smart. If you think they should wear uniforms, let them know you value their input by having them vote on the choices. This will help them take a personal interest in the store.
By giving employees a voice, you make them team members; they become your eyes and ears, helping meet customers’ needs and grow the business. To show you appreciate their contributions, offer occasional rewards, such as lunch or soft drinks, and continue to solicit their input in the future.
It only takes one person to bring down a team, and if your plant has a “bad apple,” get rid of it. Make sure that the valued employees who stay know that the team holds the store together. Employees who feel respected are more likely to show up every day and give 110%. They’re happy to have a good job and be appreciated.
Do your best to make sure employees pass that feeling along to customers and train them in customer care — not just the technical aspects of sorting, cleaning and delivering clothes. Employees should know their customers, and a little bit about their families, personal lives and garments.
You should already have a checklist of customers’ likes and dislikes in front of you, and you can use it to make every customer feel special. A great example of this is at my local coffee shop. They see me pull up, and know what I want and how I want it; my coffee is waiting for me when I walk in the door.
The customer who feels your business opened its doors today just for him or her will be loyal. Word-of-mouth is the best and least-expensive form of advertising, and that customer will become your biggest billboard.
Those handling customers at the counter need to be at the top of their games. If they’re having a bad day, they don’t belong in the front. Every counterperson needs to do the following when working the counter:Smile. Greet every customer this way — it comforts those coming in the doors and sets you apart from the rest.Ask Questions. How are you today? How was your weekend? How’s the family? Are there any problems with your garments that we should know about?Pay Attention. When a customer walks in, he or she should have your complete attention. Idle talk among employees should cease; it’s all about the customer now. If staffers are working with other customers, they should acknowledge the latest to enter and tell them they will be right with them.
In slow periods, cross-train; it fosters the team spirit. These are also the times to evaluate all aspects of your business to see if they’re running at peak productivity. While most owners clamp down in the slow times, successful business owners use slow periods to revisit issues that couldn’t be dealt with properly when the plant was busy.
The owner who neglects his or her store in tough economic times will soon be out of business. Don’t skimp on cleanliness, training, repairs and maintenance. At some point, skimping will no longer cut it, and it will take thousands of dollars to fix a problem.
It shouldn’t take a lot of money to address the many little things that might have slipped by in busier times, and you’ll need to make these changes if you want to make it through the next few years. If you can’t do it on your own, bring someone in to help. Consultants should only be viewed as expenses for tax purposes; for your business, they’re investments. Small changes made now can reap great rewards in the future.

About the author

James Smith

The Cleaners Consultants (TCC)


James Smith is founder of The Cleaners Consultants (TCC), based in Landing, N.J. He has held positions with several operators in the New York metro area, and has experience in all aspects of plant operations: spotting, cleaning and pressing; production and quality control; sales and inventory; and regulatory compliance. Contact Smith by telephone at 201-874-8724, or e-mail [email protected].


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