Do you know your Dry Cleaners?

When you drop off your clothes at a cleaners do you know the people handling your clothes? 

You might be new to an area and you are looking for a dry cleaners to take care of your clothes. So you research them. You look at the reviews in the Internet. Problem with that is are the bad reviews planted by competitors and are the good reviews planted by the cleaners themselves. 

So how do you know? 

Ask you neighbors. Ask your coworkers. They should know the best Dry Cleaners in your area. Then take some clothes into the top 2-3 and ask questions when dropping them off. 

The counter staff is not always very knowledgeable about the process… But a good counter staff will get you talking to the person that does. If that person is not in ask for them to call you when they are. If a company cared about the customer they will care about the items you drop off.

Get to know the people at the counter that handle you clothes. I always like a personal connection with my customers. I want my customers to feel comfortable leaving their clothes in my hands. I know their children and when they get married. The personal touch is always important when turning over your personal items.

When you pick up your items look them over. Make sure before you leave that they are in the condition you expect. I say this for 2 reasons. 1) they might possibly be able to fix an error right there 2) you don’t want to get home just to find it …makes it feel like a wasted trip or that you have to go all the way back to say something. 

No Dry Cleaners is perfect and can make mistakes and sometimes customers do not communicate with them when they do…they just don’t come back. It is hard fix a problem when you don’t know there is one.

When you find that one that just feels right make sure you get to know the manager and their name. That is the person that will be able to fix any problem that may possibly arise in the future. 

Dry cleaning…how it works.

Dry cleaners… 

What are they? A business designed to take care of your clothing and household items.

How does it work? It is not a simple process. But I will explain in full detail at another time. The short version… They take your items check for spots, rips, holes and color loss. Attempt to pre spot then clean. Afterwards the items are pressed. 

How are prices created? Well now that is very tricky. But these are items that the company must pay for in order for your item to be done. 

Personnel: 

counter person: that took in your items, 

check in person: that looks your items over and puts them into the system and sends them on, 

dry cleaner: this person double checks the items for any additional spots, prespots any stains,  sorts the items by carelabel and color, put the items through the cleaning process, checks the items after to see if any additional work need done, the item is then sent to be pressed.

Prefinisher: this person steams out or tops the items for the presser to finish. Sport coats for example have formers put into the sleeves and clamps are out on vents if any and then steam and hot air are pushed through the items gently.

Presser/finisher: this person looks over the garment for any touch ups needed for the upper body of the item. Looks for pleats and Ruffles and steams and/or presses them back into place.

Inspector: this person inspects the items to make sure that there are not spots or missing buttons or seams that need repairs, and make sure they are pressed up to that companies standards, assembles the item on the correct order, when the order is completed the order is sent on to the bagging station.

Bagger: this person looks over the order to insure that the customers preferences are done (I.e. creases or no creases in pants, bag or no bag for the order). Puts the items in proper order and tries to insure all items are there and accounted for, items are connected together by whatever means that cleaners uses (string or twisty ties).

Hanger: this person attaches the tag onto the item and puts the order on the line or conveyor by whatever order that company uses (numerical or alphabetical).

Pickup: the person that gets the order/orders for you when you pick up and takes your payment.

Management: person or persons helping in all areas and overseeing the entire process helping to ensure the quality you are expecting. 

Then there are the other items involved in processing your item/items. 

Utilities, rent or building payment, cost of equipment, hangers, plastic for bagging, computer software or paper products used for the tagging process, phones for communications, And the chemicals used for the spotting and cleaning process. I am sure I am missing some of the smaller items involved in the process. 

Trying to come up with pricing is a very very tricky process because the cost of supplies and utilities is constantly going up and down. And as expecting wages goes up that doesn’t make it any easier.

What is the most important thing to a dry cleaners? Making their customers happy and return customers. 

Admittedly dry cleaners cannot please every customer every time. They try to do the best they can but they are human like the rest of us.

What is my PURPOSE?

Well I have been trying to figure that out over the past few months. I have listened to several people’s podcasts. Chalene Johnson, Mariah Coz, Dr. McKayla…and more. Passion, purpose, hobby, job, career.  I am still confused. I cannot figure this out…I am not an unintelligent person but this just has me baffled. Let me try to explain.

I manage a dry cleaners. I love what I do. I work too many hours so sometimes I feel burnt out but somehow I get re-energized. Most of my employees are awesome but there are a few that challenge me. And there are some positions that seem to have a revolving door and there is always a new person in the mix. I want to spend less time at work and more time at home and with my grand children. But I feel more needed at work. Now my work kids are always asking my advise about well a lot of things. I am like their mother. They come to me about their personal lives and what to do in all kinds of situations. I always tell them what I truly think no sugar coating it. And they get mad at me sometimes but respect the fact that I am most of the time right on the money. They think I am great. (Their words). Now with my own children I speak my mind with my youngest, mostly speak my mind to the eldest…but my middle child I walk on eggshells. That situation is shall we say not a stable one. 

People come to me for advice on 

Boyfriends, girlfriends, stains on their clothes, where to buy this or that, self esteem issues, anxiety issues, love, hate, parents, children, exes, how thei item was or was not cleaned or pressed correctly or how they requested. How to press this or that, can you print me this or that, how do I log into this or that, how do I operate my phone, where can I find a replacement????

Now I am not saying I have a degree in any of these areas… But people ask me about these things and more. And I answer to the best of my ability and knowledge or I Reccomended them to find another person and how to go about doing that. 

But there is no one or even two things in that for me to focus on to even begin to figure out my purpose or passion. Heck I out together a greenhouse a few weeks ago and loved doing it. Just a few days ago I put in a cement floor in it. Really loved doing that too! I enjoy computer stuff as well. I am so all over the place it is crazy. 

And yes I am a people pleaser. I love making everyone happy and smiling. It really drains me when I let someone down. Even if it really wasn’t me but I didn’t double check that one thing and it didn’t get done right…bugs the heck out of me!!! I know I cannot make everyone happy. I have come to terms with that. “Sorry I really tried everything I could but that spot just isn’t coming out” I don’t like saying it so if I do say it you know I tried everything but literally cutting the stain out to remove it. I am far from perfect and so is everyone on my staff most of us try real hard but mistakes happen. And I try to not make excuses just solutions if there are any to be made. If you are still unhappy then you can be on your merry little way and I hope you can find someone that can make you happy. 

But is all of this there is more. I love being outdoors. I love photography and playing around with the photos I have taken and making something new and wonderful out of them. I really swear there will never be enough hours in a day for me to do everything I truly enjoy doing. But the fact remains I enjoy my career. I enjoy most of the people I am around there. My favorite part is 1) seeing the smiles on my customers faces and 2) after hours when the magic happens that creates those smiles. I do personally work on the specialty items and antique items. I have two people now in training helping we with those items. An employee for a couple of years now and recently (sort of but some over the years) my daughter and now employee. Training my art can only be done in a dry cleaners and that limits me. I do not want my competition to have my knowledge. Other towns and cities I don’t mind but I am a working manager. So I work Monday through Friday 6:30 am until at least closing. Although recently I have been trying to take off early at least one day a week. But that happens almost every other week. The weekends are for my husband. 

So still figuring out what my purpose is and my passion and the difference between them. 48 and still going strong!

Workaholic 

I am (admittedly) a workaholic. I do love my job and there never seems to be enough hours in the day. You see I manage a dry cleaners. Now the first half off my day consists of getting the items due that day cleaned, pressed, inspected, bagged and put into place. Now while I am trying to make sure that is all happening with a nice flow I get interrupted… Not always a bad thing but can get a little like this…

I am bagging an order of say 12 pieces… Which takes 3 to 4 bags normally…I get one group bagged I have a phone call…while on that call I have 2 to 3 employees asking me questions…after the call is over I have a customer wanting to talk to me in the lobby…done with customer and an employee needs me to come and look at their press something isn’t right…done with that the owner wants to ask me a question in the office…I am coming down from there and the Libby is full of customers so I help get them waited on and on their way…done and come back to start bagging again to find that for the past hour no one else has bagged one item. So joe the bagging line is much much longer. 

Now not everyday is like this but more often than not I get pulled in 5 different directions at the same time. I love the challenge but I do have to gather my thoughts sometimes. Which is hard because even if I run to the bathroom real quick it never fails that as soon as I get in there I hear…” Kim, are you in there? You have a customer in the lobby waiting for you.” Lol

Now for the last part of my day is where I do all the little things that the customers pay extra for me to do personally. Yes, I am good at what I do…but if my dry cleaner was more customer friendly and patient he could do some of it and at times I have given items to him with specific details as to how I wanted them done for him to do it his way anyways. He is good at what he does. His patients isn’t always there for spotting in items. We both read care labels and sometimes you cannot go by the care label. And I won’t go by the care label if I know that there is a chance that something attached to the item could be damaged by the process. I will use an alternate process. If I feel any process will harm the item I will make a call to the customer and discuss the different processes and let them make the call they would like for me to do. 

Now I get to work at about 6:30 am and most of the time I don’t get out until at least 7:00 pm at the earliest. I am trying to train others in what I do and show them the exact reason as to how I decide on the process to take with each item.  This is an art. And I am great at it. But I also make mistakes like every one. I have gotten rushed and made rash decisions that cost me in the end. But my record is far better because I take the time needed on every piece I touch. Most items are easy and you can make a split decision on them but when they have anything attached either by glue or sewing makes an item much more difficult to clean properly. And care labels will often say excluding embellishments  (Which really cannot be removed) or they are mislabeled completely. Leaving the dry cleaner the one to blame for any errors made. 

I care so much about retaining and making our thousands of customers happy I get lost in time in the afternoon trying to get everything done that I have on my plate. 

Now I love my family very much! I work hard to make the money needed to provide for my family! And I am working on a way to leave work earlier so I can spend more time with them.