PowerHouse (Conclusion)


Team Up! Pilgrim Dry Cleaners’ total staff effort includes coordinating all parts of their “house” at each of their drycleaning operations. (Photo: Pilgrim Dry Cleaners)

Tim Burke |

Communication at your dry cleaner keys unified ‘house’

CHICAGO — “It’s important for everyone to feel that their position is just as necessary as the next person, whether they are in a larger-volume store or a smaller one,” describes Lisa Goodmanson, GM and director of plant operations at Brooklyn Park, Minn.-based Pilgrim Dry Cleaners.

She is talking about the secret to Pilgrim’s success coordinating employees from both the front counter (front of house) and plant (back of house) so they are all working together as part of one team, making the business one unified house.

“We hold yearly meetings to go over safety issues and responsibilities, as well as twice-yearly manager meetings.

“Besides having summer cookouts for our plant personnel, there are plenty of lunch and dinner giveaways at the branch stores as a way of showing our appreciation for their hard work and going above and beyond to help out other stores in need,” she adds.


Your job is to make your customers look great in their freshly cleaned clothing.

The returning customer gives you their business because they have come to expect a certain level of quality, speedy service, a friendly face and attitude, a connection that relates your personal service to their personal clothing items — and maybe all of those reasons put together!

You make people look good, and that can feel good! Keeping that feeling flowing takes special attention by operators to give that consistent service.

“Coordinating cleaning, and trucks, has become second nature,” Goodmanson points out, “sometimes servicing locations four to five times in order to accomplish this fast service our customers have grown to enjoy and expect.”

She adds, “Our plant managers do a great job, especially with the volume of items they see on a daily basis, but there are the periodic staffing issues or equipment issues that may come up.

“Quality is something we monitor at all times, so working with the pressers and cleaners, whether on the laundry side or drycleaning side, is important.”

That’s how one cleaner coordinates its “house” in Minnesota. How about another example?

“Probably communication between the two sides of the business is the most critical aspect of getting the entire company working seamlessly,” points out the Chicago-area owner of Drive Cleaning, Mike Bleier.

“If your CSRs aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing, such as unbuttoning all shirt buttons, separating problem garments, checking all pockets, using flag tags correctly, covering fragile buttons, then it makes it that much harder for the back-of-the-house team to do their jobs correctly,” he says.

For at least part of the time, he tries to personally work with each new hire at the counter for their first couple of weeks, “making sure that they understand all the finer points of working up front at our operation.”

One of the issues many drycleaning owners talk about is cross-training their employees to be as flexible as possible. American Drycleaner asked this owner, and he says, “To be honest, this is an area for improvement for me.

“What would help me sleep better at night would be complete crossover so that we would be able to be comfortable knowing that every single person in the plant could do any job. That’s my hope for the future.”

To keep the whole house feeling like one smooth team, Bleier does other things for his employees. He has annual safety reviews, and works with a safety and compliance group to ensure that “we’re always following OSHA standards.”

Social events are important at this operation, too. “We do try to have two group outings per year — a family summer event and an employee holiday dinner party.”

Pilgram’s Goodmanson says she speaks with each of her store’s counter managers every day. “If there is something I can help them with, whether it’s a customer service issue, a staffing issue, or a technical issue to do with the computer hardware or software, I try my best to do what I can for them.”

Both of these drycleaning operations, and no doubt many more, work diligently every day to make the front and back of their business act as one team — efficient, safe, sociable and healthy in the revenue column.

That recipe makes for one heckuva powerhouse.

To read Part 1, go HERE.

About the author

Tim Burke

American Drycleaner


Tim Burke is the editor of American Drycleaner. He can be reached at 312-361-1684 or [email protected]


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