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Realize Your Plant’s Potential (Part 1)

Grow your business by offering current customers more options

CHICAGO — As a textile care business, there are ways to generate new revenue that don’t necessarily mean reinventing the wheel or investing in a bunch of new equipment. One of the best ways to expand is by getting more money out of your existing customers. In many cases, your competition is spending more to steal your customers away than you are trying to keep them. Growth doesn’t have to be new growth — it’s much easier to grow with what you already have.

In this column, I’ll highlight some markets primed for growth that complement dry cleaning and offer some tips on serving those markets through smart use of equipment and labor. The good news is that when new equipment is justified to ramp up production, the return on investment (ROI) is typically less than two years.

Expand Route Services

Many dry cleaners already run a route for residential/business dry cleaning and pressing. Why not pick up and process the rest of your customers’ stuff as well, including bed linens, comforters, jeans, t-shirts and socks? You likely already have the employees and equipment needed to process the extra work in the plant. Don’t forget area rugs and window treatments. Even if you have to wholesale out, you want your customer to think of only you when they have a textile that needs to be cleaned.  

Offer Drop-Off Wash/Dry/Fold

It doesn’t matter if your operation is small or big with a bunch of satellite stores — you will benefit from offering drop-off wash/dry/fold service. This is a fairly new concept in the industry, previously reserved for area laundromats. But, why? Again, most dry cleaners have the equipment and staff in-house to handle cleaning everything from household items to clothing.

Add Textile Restoration

Now let’s talk about a market that’s a little more complicated: textile restoration and the process of restoring clothing and household items to pre-incident condition after being damaged by water, moisture or smoke. In this business, you’ll work directly with insurance agents to gather documents and sort damaged items. Cleaned items will need to be stored until they can be returned to the owner. This is a much larger subject that can’t be covered here, but keep it in mind when thinking expansion.

Reduce Bottlenecks

Now that you’ve increased the number of items your plant will process, look at where and what you need to accomplish the job. The typical production bottlenecks are found in the cleaning of textiles, finishing of textiles, and the matching, bagging and storage of textiles. Sometimes new equipment is justified to break through these productivity lags.

Come back Thursday for the conclusion, where we’ll explore more ways to expand your reach and your profits.