CHICAGO — Can we talk about ... shhhh ... piece counts? Did you just roll your eyes? Shake your head? Wait a sec. Stay with this a moment. Some pieces might be holding steady, and some might be up. Have you ever looked closely at the ‘types’ of pieces, not just the raw total number? Might be worth a look. Two drycleaning owners talk ‘piece.’
“Piece counts are what run the business.”
That’s straight from Nagi Soliman, owner of Xxpress Cleaners, located in what’s called the “Bridgeport neighborhood” on Chicago’s South Side, birthplace to five of the city’s former mayors.
He moved here to start his own drycleaning business three years ago.
“The important goal,” he continues, “is to provide excellent quality and customer services to our customers, which leads to growth in piece counts.”
Soliman adds that, “September through December is our busiest season at our cleaner. Customers bring various kinds of clothes, including furs, rugs, shoes, leathers, comforters and uniforms.”
He started running his cleaners in January 2015 with only two employees.
“The business wasn’t doing very well then,” he explains. “I started studying the demographics of the neighborhood, which tremendously helped me understand how to best serve my customers.
“Some of the things I worked on were making prices more affordable; adding more washing machines and dryers; updating drycleaning machines; putting up screens for advertisement; hiring more employees; adding sewing and alteration services; and making the store cleaner and more appealing!”
He continues: “As a drycleaning owner, I look closely at niche growth areas to get more pieces. Dry cleaning relies on the growth of pieces in order for the business to grow and succeed.”
Generally speaking, he adds, “There is a decline in piece counts in the drycleaning industry. I have seen, heard, and observed the decrease in the number of pieces for dry cleaners in Chicago.”
He notes how he tries to “think of various ways to help serve my community in the Bridgeport area through my cleaners. I decided to offer free dry cleaning for anyone on their way to a job interview.”
Soliman was born and raised in Egypt. He relates his background: “I am a Coptic Egyptian, that means Egyptian Christian. My background is in social work. I emigrated to the U.S. in 2010 at the age of 26, joining some family members here.”
He notes that: “I immediately joined my brother-in-law’s drycleaning business in the suburbs of Chicago, and in the meanwhile, I enrolled in a community college, the College of DuPage, to improve my English. I lived in the suburbs for four years before I moved to Bridgeport.”
Soliman also talks about his passion to serve the homeless community.
“I offer free coffee to the homeless nearby,” he explains. A homeless man came to Soliman wanting work, and the owner offered his window cleaning supplies to clean his windows.
“Since he showed great work ethic,” Soliman says, “I gave him the cleaning supplies, and he now has around 16 businesses hiring him to clean their windows on a regular basis.”
This drycleaning owner not only talks about the importance of piece counts and the specific types of pieces, he is all about the quality, care, service, and his involvement in the people’s lives around him.
“A drycleaning business,” Soliman points out, “is very important and contributes in great ways to any given community. My advice to drycleaning owners is to focus on providing excellent quality of service while building good relationships with customers.”
Pride and passion play a big part in your fabricare livelihood, and it’s something most drycleaning owners share. It’s on display in your garment care, customer service, community service, and, in the qualitative measuring of all the varied types of piece counts in your operation today.
From Texas, north to Chicago, and everywhere else in the U.S., it is safe to say that piece rules! ... So let’s say that!
To read Part 1, go HERE.