CONCORD, N.C. — Check the “weather.” Look to the horizon. Learn to read fabricare’s “signs.” Be the wind reader!

The way we do business is changing.

From point of sale (POS) systems to wet cleaning to social media marketing, the options available to the fabricare industry are expanding. If you are still doing business exactly as you did just five years ago, you are losing ground to your competition.

Take time to consider your POS system. You don’t have to understand it all, just consider what it can do for you. Versatile in tracking orders, tracking customer visits, handling discounts and upcharges, POS can retain contact information, addresses, phone numbers, social media and e-mail.

If you are not using true wet cleaning to some extent, you are doing yourself a disservice.

But, wet cleaning is not going to the supermarket and buying the cheapest detergent. Wet cleaning is using specialized detergents, conditioners, and texturizers to clean and restore dryclean-only textiles. It is strict control of water temperature, water/detergent pH, mechanical action, and drying. Wet cleaning can improve your productivity, quality, and bottom line.

Association membership gives the opportunity to network with other professionals. It offers information from your computer, tablet, or smartphone. You can get stain removal advice at the touch of a button, in real time.

You now have the ability to market on social media, just by supplying a little information about your plant.

WHERE WE’VE COME FROM

In 1990, dry cleaners were in great shape. This manifested itself in having a financial magazine declare that dry cleaning was one of the 10 best ways to become a millionaire.

But, this was also about the time that environmental interests began taking a hard look at chlorinated products, including perchloroethylene (perc), the solvent of choice for about 80% of the dry cleaners nationwide.

The knee-jerk reaction to get to no environmental impact has turned into a headlong rush to mediocrity, leaving the customer believing that he or she can do it at home.

The growth of casual attire in the business sector began a slow decline in office dress that required professional care. A growth in turnkey plants lead to oversaturation, with each cleaner getting a smaller slice of market.

All these factors softened the market for dry cleaning.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion.