Yesterday I finally put an end to my dryclean drop-off service. Here is what I have learned from about 1.5 years of dealing with it.
1. The industry dry cleaner charges wholesale prices. Since the price is so cheap, the quality is not the best, which, in turn, becomes an obstacle to increase the customer base, raise the price, or build a good reputation.
2. Since the price is low, the industry dry cleaner is reluctant to fix or refund for the mistakes. Sometimes I am willing to fix the damage as a courtesy if not too much trouble, but the industry dry cleaner charges a fee higher than the local dry cleaners because the wholesale price applies to the dry clean service only, not alteration.
3. Since I don't know much about the actual dry clean process, I can not fix the problems timely. We don't have anyone to iron it onsite. The redo process takes typically 2-3 days.
4. When there's a request to redo or refund, I can not fully trust what the dry cleaner people tell me. Their goal is to convince me that they are not responsible for the damage. I then have to convince my customers. The dry cleaner people refuse to talk to my customers directly.
5. Some w/d/f customers expect every piece of their garments back in perfect shapes. They come back to request refund or repair if there's something like a missing button, shrinkage, or a stain unremoved. I gladly direct them to my competitors. In dry cleaner game, all customers have the same high expectation that I don't want to deal with in the w/d/f side of the business.
6. It takes time to learn how to deal with customer complaints. The goal is to refund as little as possible and not to lose the customers. Since every customer is different, it can be "tricky" to achieve the goal. Sometimes I don't even know what I'm talking about since I don't have deep knowledge of the dry clean world. My attendants are already keeping the store clean, handling w/d/f business, dealing with customers complaints about machine problems and w/d/f problems, I have no intention to train them to deal with the drycleaner customers.
7. And lastly, the profit I can generate in my area isn't worth my time and effort on it.
-I wish that all I do is to collect coins, just like the other laundromat owner down the street.
--Whoa, is that all he does? What an easy job!
-No. It is his wish, too.
I did the exact same thing this past month for the exact same reasons! And I wish I had done it sooner. Too many headaches, too little profit. 80% of my problems are now gone.
Exactly. It's a huge headache and there's not even much money in it anymore.
It's better to have your Mat located close to a very good Drycleaner. Then you both help each other, but have far less headaches.
Like I always say...."It all comes out in the wash"....
The day I sold my dry cleaning plant was a good day indeed. Effective dry cleaning requires a thorough knowledge of fabrics, stain removal techniques, pressing, customer service, large equipment maintenance, etc. The rewards are far too small for the effort one puts out. The self service laundry business has proven far superior to the dry cleaning business due to its relative simplicity and minimal customer issues.
"Lead, follow or get out of the way." Larry Adamski
As more and more business people adopt casual dress, there is less and less demand for dry cleaning. I remember attending a distributor's presentation for new laundromat owners and people considering becoming owners. The guy sitting next to me was the owner of a dry cleaning business. He wanted to sell his dry cleaning store and buy a laundromat. When I asked him why, he replied: "Look around this room. Do you see ANYBODY wearing ANYTHING that needs to be dry cleaned?"
As that market shrinks, you may find that there are too many dry cleaning stores in some areas. Supply exceeds demand.
Dave Levenson, NJ
The Happy Launderer -- If you can't take the heat, stay out from behind my dryers!
I stopped offering the dry cleaning drop off several months ago myself, just due to the customer confusion on what they really want. I charged $5 an item, shirts, pants only, and the dry cleaner charges me $3.50 an item. But when folks dropped off dirty clothes, really dirty, and wanted it dry cleaned the dry cleaner charges me for wash and then dryclean.
The local cleaners, "Comet Cleaners" are putting up 8 new stores in the next 12 months and offering wdf service for $2 a lb, but they still won't do socks and underwear.