A Swing and a Myth (Conclusion)

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(Image licensed by Ingram Publishing)

Diana Vollmer |

Examine your beliefs and test their validity

SAN FRANCISCO — Industry myths can wreck your business.

It is human nature to repeat past behavior. Creatures of habit are less susceptible to day-to-day risk because they fall into safe habits that have proven to be sustaining in the past.

But what about relying on these old habits and traditions in the future?

Can established behaviors and practices be relied upon indefinitely to keep you in the ranks of the survival of the fittest? If it isn’t broken, should you try to fix it?

Let’s ponder together a few established and widely accepted beliefs that have proven dangerous to operators who assumed them to be true and inviolate. (Last five of nine myths below. To read first four, go HERE.)

Myth #5 – Traditional presses provide the best finish

It is true that traditional professional finishers can do a beautiful job with a standard press. It is also true that the traditional professional finisher is becoming more and more scarce.

In the absence of a reliable and affordable pool of this rare person, industry suppliers have been innovating to create equipment that will supplement lack of skill with better finishing despite lack of expertise or proficiency.

Tensioning presses, up-air features, laser indicators, auto-timing, computerization, intelligent robotics, advanced steam tunnels and smart sensors are all helping to improve performance in the finishing arena and beyond.

Don’t let your past experience and historically professional staff cloud your future acceptance of these advances.

Using the Rent the Runway experience again, 97% of the garments shipped in their proprietary shipping pouches to customers for immediate wear are finished in a state-of-the-art steam tunnel only and are not touched with an iron or press.

Of course, these beautiful garments are carefully selected for fabric content and construction, but more importantly they are chosen for customer preference in design.

They are being shipped to your customers who are the most fashion-conscious consumers across the country, and the company is growing exponentially, so customers must be happy with the service.

Myth #6 – My main competition is the home washer

I contend that the main competition is backward thinking. Most people still wear clothes daily, most of them like their clothes to be clean and presentable (to fit their standard or definition), most of them are busier than ever, even if the “busy” is caused by gaming, Snapchat, or hanging out with friends.

Laundry is not the favorite pastime of most. You can free your customers to pursue endeavors that are of higher value to them.

The generation that doesn’t own a car is not likely to be excited about owning a washer/dryer or an iron, and a needle and thread is a totally alien concept. They hire others to do the things they don’t want to do and if you don’t believe they can afford it, research current income by consumer segment.

Myth #7 – Fashion trends are working against the drycleaning business

The prevalence of active fashion adds to the myth that today’s consumer no longer needs or wants your services. In fact, that ultra-revealing athleticism, and egocentric outlook that drives it, requires even a better fit and maintenance than traditional street wear.

For example, the majority of Lulu Lemon garments are altered professionally prior to wear. The return to cotton, linen and natural fabrics in general will drive even more business your way as consumers realize that quality fabrics need quality care that cannot be accomplished at home.

Growing incomes provide more sophisticated experiences and a greater appreciation for truly luxurious textiles and service.

Myth #8 – Word of mouth has always been, and will always be, enough to sustain my business

Historically, word of mouth has been the most effective promotion because an endorsement is more persuasive than an advertisement. However, in an ever more competitive and creative environment, organic recommendations are not enough of a competitive edge.

The good news is that personal endorsements and favorable ratings can be leveraged by amplifying and multiplying the impact many times over through social media and effective networking. Take the proven concept and expand it to your advantage.

Myth #9 — Cutting the marketing budget is the easiest way to decrease expenses and increase profits

Consumers need a continual, meaningful (to them) dialogue with their service providers. There is nothing more personal than one’s own wardrobe.

To communicate with your customers on a timely and appropriate basis is a full-time job in itself, and that is in addition to letting the general market know who you are and what you can do for them.

Your customer base includes a core that is generally reliable and loyal, but you must stay relevant to them and attract additional prospects as well to thrive as a company.

Whatever form your marketing mix takes, promotion is necessary to a dynamic, ongoing, profitable business.

Examine your beliefs and test their current validity. Owners that want to continue to improve sales and profits, must focus attention on alternative operational improvements that are proving successful, both inside and outside the industry and the traditional norm.

As with driving, looking only backward is dangerous.

To read Part 1, go HERE.

About the author

Diana Vollmer

Methods for Management (MFM) Inc.

Managing Director

Diana Vollmer is managing director of Methods for Management (MFM) Inc., a consultancy specializing in drycleaning businesses. You may contact her at dvollmer@mfmi.com, 415-577-6544.

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