PUERTO RICO — The Five-Star Brainstorming conference, co-sponsored by the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute and the National Cleaners Association, was pronounced a success by organizers and attendees.
About 50 dry cleaning professionals gathered at a Puerto Rican resort in mid-January to discuss customer trends and produce ideas to improve their businesses. The unique gathering, the first time the two groups have co-hosted a conference, featured a number of speakers, including Brian Carter, co-author of Facebook Marketing.
“He showed attendees that you really can make money with Facebook,” says Brian Johnson, DLI director of education and analysis.
Identifying different levels of familiarity with online marketing among audience members, Carter tailored his talk to involve all attendees. He provided basic steps that everyone, even those with only 15 minutes per month to spend on the project, could take, including creating a Facebook page and running a simple Facebook ad to promote their business in their area.
John Condry, co-author of The Inch Principle: 21 Million Dollar Inches of Management, discussed how personalities interact in the workplace. His presentation allowed attendees to map their own personality profile and show how they can work with other personality types more effectively.
Consultant Krista Clive-Smith’s branding discussion illustrated tactics of the top brands and what cleaners can adopt to help their businesses.
“Everything went smoothly, the weather was great, hospitality was fantastic,” says Mary Scalco, DLI’s chief executive officer, “and everyone was able to learn more about the business and meet some of their peers.”
“I think we can safely call it a success,” says NCA Executive Director Nora Nealis.
“It was great to be able to bring NCA and DLI members together in one space,” says Johnson. “It’s interesting how businesspeople, no matter where their businesses are, all come up against the same issues.”
The only part of the conference that organizers plan to change is to allow more time for participant discussions.
“The speakers shared a lot of good ideas,” Scalco says, “but the best ideas always come from the other cleaners in room. We want to foster more discussions among attendees so cleaners can harness the experience of their contemporaries. We’ll definitely work more networking opportunities into future events.”
Jan Barlow of Jan’s Professional Drycleaners in Clio, Mich., says, “I was pleased with the quality of the speakers. I came home with several ‘to-do’ items from the social media presenter. I really appreciated the opportunity to understand the details of personality styles and how to increase the employees’ awareness.”
Robert Fogelsanger of Balfurd Cleaners in State College, Penn., says the conference helped him with “brand awareness, making sure our marketing message is focused.”
DLI and NCA plan to co-host another Five-Star Brainstorming event in 2013. Both associations are polling attendees and researching potential host cities easily accessible from either coast.