If you are interested in starting a laundry and dry cleaning business, you want to know as much information as possible before you decide if this business matches your needs. For example, are you comfortable with handling dirty laundry? If you enjoy cleaning clothes and making them nice for others, you will do well in this business. It also helps to be good at paying attention to the details, so that you won’t lose track of the customers’ items. You will always need to make sure the results of the washing, cleaning, pressing, and folding are outstanding. Consider the following points to consider as you are doing your research:
Skills & Experience
There are a few essential skills to have if you want to build a successful laundry and dry cleaning. For example, you need to be friendly with the walk-in customers. You will also need to notice stains or damage to the clothing to point them out to your customers. As well, the work schedule and turnaround times are pretty tight, and your customers depend on their items being ready when promised.
This retail business works with repeat customers coming from the local area. Your satisfied regular customers help create a reliable customer base. You need to be aware of a customer’s possible allergic reactions to prevent them from occurring. Also, some of your customers will be concerned with the chemicals used. Others may be concerned by the environmental impact of this business. If you want to explore using more organic cleaning methods, you may want to research starting an eco-friendly laundry company.
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To continue from “A Brief History of Dry Cleaning, Part 1,” it turns out that there was no patent for dry cleaning with turpentine as the method was destroyed by a fire in 1836. As other dry cleaning agents began to be used, there was concern that they were all dangerous. For example, the most commonly used solvents in the 19th century were turpentine, benzene, kerosene, gasoline, and petrol, which were all highly flammable. The flammability of those substances led to dry cleaners searching for a safer alternative.
In the early part of the 20th century, chlorinated solvents became more popular because they were not considered flammable. Dry cleaners could now move their cleaning facilities back into cities as opposed to having to travel back and forth to a plant in an unpopulated area. The go-to solvent for dry cleaners in the 1930s was a chlorine-based solvent with the chemical name tetrachloroethylene or perchloroethylene. It could be used in relatively compact dry cleaning machines and did a better job of cleaning than any other solvents of the day. In fact, it’s still the chemical of choice for many dry cleaners today.
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Contrary to popular belief dry cleaning has been around for centuries. In ancient Rome, there were dry cleaning shops that used ammonia and lye to remove stains such as dirt and sweat from clothing. In the early 19th century brought a big revolution in dry cleaning by Jean Baptiste Jolly of France, also known as “the father of modern dry cleaning.” The story from 1825 is about an accidental turpentine spill on a dirty tablecloth, which was noticeably clean and stainless once the turpentine dried. Jolly then conducted an experiment in which he soaked the entire tablecloth in a bathtub filled with turpentine and found that it came clean once it dried. He used this method when he opened the often claimed first modern dry cleaning shop in Paris.
Several years before Jolly’s discovery, however, a patent had been filed with the U.S. Patent Office by Thomas Jennings, a clothier and tailor in New York. He knew the difficulty of trying to clean delicate clothing once it was stained and wouldn’t hold up to traditional washing and scrubbing. In his experimenting with a number of cleaning solutions, he discovered a process he called “dry scouring,” which was simply using a chemical solvent other than water to clean delicate fabrics.
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As we stated above in “Tips to Increase the Profits of Your Dry Cleaning Store, Part 1,” there are simple ways to improve the ambiance and appearance of your dry-cleaning store. You can add professional signage that lets the customer know about your other services, such as alterations and repairs. Making easy-to-read nametags for your staff will make it easy for your customers to converse with staff and for the staff to build a relationship with the customers. Also, it’s best to ask your employees to wear business casual clothes or uniforms and to refrain from wearing shorts, jeans, sneakers, or flip-flops.
Around the holidays you can set up a nice table display that features tablecloths and cloth napkins, which shows off your household linen services. Also, when you display a route delivery order, if you offer that service, it will sell route service. In addition, you can ask your staff to prompt customers about their upcoming needs. For example, they can ask customers any of the following questions at the appropriate time of the year:
- Are your linens ready for the upcoming holidays?
- Do you need any blankets or comforters cleaned before the weather gets cooler?
- Have you gotten your fall wardrobe ready?
- Do you need us to freshen your sweaters for the cool weather?
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You want your dry-cleaning business to perform at its optimal level, to keep increasing your bottom line and build long-time relationships with your customers. While advanced technology, including the latest dry cleaner’s computer, is a huge boon to dry cleaners, there are also additional ways to help your store grow more profitable and thrive. Some of the following suggestions sound like “common sense” items, but they are easy to forget in the hubbub of daily life in any business.
Ensure Your Interior Is Clean and Welcoming
Your dry-cleaning store should be as spotless, clean, and fresh as the finished goods you provide to your customers every day. How spotless can you make your store? Does it need a new paint job? Also, having an air-conditioned dry-cleaning store is now what customers expect. The more meticulous the visual details in your store, and the more comfortable the temperature, the more likely you are to have satisfied customers.
Think Like a Salesperson Rather than an Order Taker
Having professional displays about the other services you offer helps inform your customers about things they may need. Your store will increase business if you are selling more services than cleaning. If you repair clothing and provide alteration services, be sure everyone who steps foot inside your store can find that out.