PowerHouse (Part 1)

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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 |

Best ways to coordinate counter and plant

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 work together as part of one team, making the business one unified house.

“Our community programs pull everyone together to coordinate and provide large-scale drives to give back to our community,” Goodmanson says.

The company gives back continually through its “Coats For Kids,” “Scouting For Uniforms” and “Costumes For Kids” drives, and other opportunities throughout the year.

Goodmanson has been in the drycleaning industry for over 30 years — with Pilgrim for 17 of those years, “so I bring a bit of experience to my position,” she says.

Pilgrim Dry Cleaners has been a family-owned business since 1940, servicing the Twin Cities metro area with 25 locations and free home and office pickup and delivery service. Goodmanson has daily communication with each one of Pilgrim’s stores.

“We give our employees the opportunity to provide us with feedback about our business,” she says.

Pilgrim employees can apply for a yearly college scholarship. “This year we awarded scholarships to six of our senior high school graduates,” she says. “The scholarships help our employees feel appreciated and welcomed back during their college breaks.”

Her operation is currently investing in store renovations, new equipment and technology to attract new customers and new team members. Pilgrim takes pride in providing expert garment care, with professional staff, and new updated facilities and technology.

How important is it that all staff work together?

“Our front counter managers are an important key to our success,” Goodmanson says. “They are who our customers see and deal with daily, however, if we don’t put out a quality product, we don’t satisfy those customers. Our plant managers understand this and constantly strive for the best cleaning and pressing out there.”

As with any business, having the right people in charge can be a challenge that eventually leads to success. As she puts it, “We have so much longevity with our employees that it keeps the challenges to a minimum. We want the right customer service representatives working one-on-one with the customers and the right plant personnel that can work together pleasantly while putting out a great product.”

Ever heard the expression that you should “walk a mile in their shoes” before you know what another person’s job is like?

One of the many ways to coordinate your drycleaning employees to work together effectively is through cross-training.

“In our plants,” Goodmanson explains, “our front counter personnel may be trained to help the automated assembly, so the counter manager can help in production with pressing or whatever is needed. The pressers are hired for a primary position but know that they will be trained in all positions eventually.”

This is important so as to ensure a smooth workday when there are absences, she points out.

Everyone is responsible for keeping their department clean.

“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.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion.

About the author

Tim Burke

American Drycleaner

Editor

Tim Burke is the editor of American Drycleaner. He can be reached at 312-361-1684 or tburke@atmags.com.

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