A FRESH START
Meet Joe Ferrante, owner, Duro Cleaners in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Q. “We’re in a new year and a new decade, what’s new at your dry cleaners?”
A. “A new year, indeed! Wow, I never really thought of it as a new decade prior to reading this question. That’s some ‘take a deep breath,’ kind of news,” Ferrante says.
“We are looking to expand Duro’s home delivery division. We do currently operate several routes in the Pittsburgh area however we’re ready to take it to the next level.”
Q. “Are any of your new plans already implemented or are you somewhere along in the process?”
A. “We are always in the process! Last year we purchased a new point of sale system which has been huge. It provides us with ‘20/20 vision’ of how and what the business is doing daily,” relates Ferrante.
“With any new point of sale, there is a learning curve and we feel that we are finally over the hump and are able and ready to fully optimize all it has to offer. With its real time reporting, integrated messaging system, and route management software, we feel that it is the one tool that will allow us to stand out from others in the business,” he notes.
“Last year we also purchased a new delivery van that will allow us to build upon our image. We didn’t want to come to the market with a cracker jack approach and throw just any vehicle on the road.
“It was important for us to establish that we are serious about the line of work we are in and let that reflect from the vehicle that we put on the road all the way down to the uniform our drivers will wear.”
Q. “Did any of these Year 2020 plans start out as dreams on your wish list?”
A. “The whole thing started out as a dream,” Ferrante relates. “I always knew that I would own my own business but after working years in my family’s cleaners I realized I only had a 10-year ‘Ph.D.’ in one thing, and that was dry cleaning!
“With the support of my family, I was able to purchase my own cleaners and start implementing all the things that I personally thought would help move the needle,” he adds.
Q. “One way to measure the health of a business is growth of a brand; how healthy will your brand be in year 2020?”
A. “Once you get past the fact that your dry cleaners is no longer just that, you start to realize that in this day and age, you need to establish a brand,” Ferrante says.
He indicates that, “If you look at what some of the bigger players in our industry are doing, they focus maybe 75% on their brand and 25% on their production.
“Being a smaller drycleaning operator, it’s easy to lose focus on this; however, after spending some time at the Clean Show and listening to Jason Loeb, I then understood that its not the size of the operation, rather it’s the size of the brand.”
Q. You’ve mentioned that your business has had to overcome things from the past, what things?
A. “For example,” he points out, “We struggled with negative reviews left over from previous ownership and lack of an online presence.” But he says that with, “Just some old school customer service, we were able to generate good reviews organically over time.”
Right now he relates that his business is currently “trending upward.”
However, Ferrante says, when it comes to brand, “There is never a time to relax and think that we’ve done enough. We will always be working toward establishing a brand. This year will give us a fresh start on getting our message out there: Personal, Professional Service.”
Q. “Can you share a tip with other owners about how to make time to dream, plan, and launch that vital growth in the Year 2020?”
A. “First, I’d say, take some time to reflect on why you wanted to enter this business in the first place,” Ferrante relates. “A lot of us got into it because we had family ties or tons of experience.
“Drycleaning owners are not the type of people that take the easy way out of anything. If we did, we wouldn’t be in this industry.
“So when you think back five or ten years, you may think of something that you wanted to do and didn’t. This year is a fresh start. A fresh decade. Take that thought and capitalize on it,” he says.
“Secondly,” Ferrante notes, “Build your team and trust them. It is so hard to give the keys away to your business but if you really want to accomplish anything, you must surround yourself with a team that you can trust not only with your operation, but also with your brand.”
Q. “Anything else you’d like to add about your vision and growth for 2020?”
A. “Like any year, 2020 is a fresh start to build upon history. It’s a leap year, Olympic year, and an election year. We will see the completion of the new world trade center,” he says. “The world will keep building and so should your business!”
Ferrante concludes with this: “In our business, we will answer every phone call; respond to every text and email; and greet every customer with a smile. With this core of established values, it will allow us to move our business forward with whatever we decide in 2020, and 2021, and beyond!”
So you heard from two drycleaning owners expanding this year. Take your own ideas, hopes, and dreams and make them into realities. Follow your vision. It’s really the year of you!
To read Part 1, go HERE.