Survey: Attracting New Customers, Adding/Updating Equipment Among 2015 Priorities

Bruce Beggs |

CHICAGO — Attracting new customers is the top 2015 business priority for the majority of dry cleaners (34.7%), according to results from this month’s American Drycleaner Your Views survey.

Other dry cleaners say their top priority is to “add/update equipment” (22.5%), “explore extra services or new opportunities” (12.2%), “spruce up [their] store(s)” (8.2%) or “increase prices and/or cut costs” (8.2%).

Another 14.3% of dry cleaners polled listed “other” top business priorities, such as growing piece counts, increasing wedding gown cleaning and preservation business, or maintaining their store’s “high level of quality.”

Looking back at 2014, 56% of cleaners say their drycleaning operation met “some” of its goals, while another 22% say their operation “met all” of its goals. Sixteen percent of respondents admitted that their drycleaning operation “did not meet our” goals. Only a small percentage (6%) set no goals at all.

American Drycleaner invited respondents to discuss the goals they met or didn’t meet, and why. The answers were diverse, as illustrated by these examples:

  • “We had hoped to streamline and promote some of the specialty services i.e. wedding/fancy dresses, leathers, etc., (but) personnel turnover and retraining has slowed efforts.”
  • “We exceeded our piece count goals and successfully remodeled our laundry and assembly departments.”
  • “Better training systems were planned but not developed and implemented.”
  • “I would like to have replaced our shirt unit in 2014. Current one is 2001 vintage. Our financial performance, while significantly improved over the past three years (about 20% increase), did not quite make that seem advisable.”
  • “We (have) been focusing on routes and counter conversions. Routes are up 35%.”
  • “Our goal was to have two new hires. We did!”

In terms of top personal priorities for 2015, nearly 30% of dry cleaners polled would like to “get organized.” Another 24% want to lose weight or improve their fitness, while spending time with family is the No. 1 priority for 18% of respondents. A small percentage (8.9%) want to quit smoking/drinking.

Twenty percent of respondents listed “other” personal priorities, including reducing stress, spending more time pursuing hobbies or preparing for retirement.

The majority of dry cleaners are optimistic about meeting their business and personal priorities for the new year, as 47.9% say they have a “good chance” to accomplish both goals. Twenty-five percent say they have a “50/50 chance,” while 20.8% say there is “no doubt” they will accomplish their goals. The remaining 6.3% of respondents believe they have a “slim chance” of accomplishing their 2015 goals.

While American Drycleaner’s Your Views survey presents a snapshot of trade audience viewpoints, it should not be considered scientific; percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

Subscribers to American Drycleaner e-mails are invited each month to participate in a brief industry survey they can complete anonymously. The entire American Drycleaner audience is encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define owner/operator opinions and industry trends.

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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