CHICAGO — Sasha Ablitt, owner of Santa Barbara, California- based Ablitt’s Fine Cleaners, believes a dry cleaner is most effective and successful if there is, “trust between us and our clients. That means constantly building relationships.”
Ablitt continues: “That requires creating an atmosphere of both appreciation and fun at the counter. An attitude of listening and understanding people’s needs and wants. As an owner its my job to listen to my people and support their needs and wants, and in turn, my people will take care of the customer!”
Ablitt describes her business as a full-service dry cleaner serving Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria and the Santa Ynez Valley.
“It is a family-owned and operated business since 1984,” she relates. “We offer free pickup and delivery service on every single order. We have been voted Santa Barbara’s best dry cleaner for over 20 years!” The connection between the client coming in the store’s front doors and the counter team member is part of the whole picture of a healthy business.
Sean Nguyen, Ablitt’s customer service manager in charge of customer communications, concierge (delivery) and front counter customer service says, “I think it’s important to first have positive chemistry between the CSRs. If they’re happy working with each other, it will reflect on how they interact with customers.
“When customers walk into a place with a great atmosphere and employees are happy, they will naturally be happy. We have a lot of fun together, and that’s what makes them love coming to work. We are a family.”
An almost unspoken part of that customer connection is just being a neighbor, part of the life of the town, and a piece of the very fabric of the community itself.
Sasha Ablitt relates this: “On January 10, 2018, there was a mudslide in Santa Barbara that cut us off from Los Angeles for almost three weeks by turning our freeway into a river and took the lives of 24 people very suddenly, in the middle of the night, because their homes were just washed away.
“It was a devastating thing for our community and we are only now feeling somewhat recovered. We still have evacuations every time it rains. The mudslide was due to an unusually hard downpour of rain within a few months of the Thomas Fire. At the time, the Thomas Fire was the largest wildfire in California’s history.
“I get a story every time I meet someone new in Santa Barbara, outside of the business, and the stories are often years old. During the tragedy of 2018, I had lots of stories of hugs and tears that people gave our staff for restoring precious items.
“When our trucks rolled back into Montecito after almost a month of the area being off limits, one customer near tears said, ‘Ablitt’s is back, we are finally getting back to normal,’ and gave Chris, our then Montecito concierge a big hug.
“We had a man come in wearing pants made out of the Ablitt flower. A pattern created by a local artist for my family and available online. We go out of our way to do things the way the customer wants, special hangers, tissue, collar stays, hangers facing the opposite direction.”
Sasha’s words tell a tale of a community pulling together, and pulling each other along for the betterment of all. If there is a better example of making connections, we’ve never heard it.
“As for the Ablitt house flower,” she tells, “Neil Ablitt, who is my dad, built a house on a 20 ft. by 20 ft. lot 15 years ago. It was kind of a project to keep him busy while I took over the business. Imagine two parking spaces and then building a five-story building straight up.
“The architect, Jeff Shelton, a local artist, designs in a gaudy style, think Dr. Seuss. There are tens of thousands of tiles in the house — there are several tours on youtube if you are interested — and it has been highlighted on more than one home and garden tv show.
“Anyway, Jeff designed the Ablitt flower on tile and then made it is available for purchase on Jeff Shelton’s website. We were unaware of the existence of such material until a customer came in to have his Ablitt’s flower pants cleaned! It was quite comical!”
Trust, and a community feeling of everyone pulling together, are two key components that make for the best kind of connections when your customer — your friend and neighbor — comes through your front door.
Those times are what makes your drycleaning business more than a business. You are a trusted friend caring for your clients’ clothing and their well-being, and that makes the ties that bind!
To read Part 1, go HERE.