Increase Profits

Copyright 2006-01-09
Everett Childers
Tahlequah, OK 74464

An Easy Way to Increase Profits

I have been told, on pretty good authority that utility rates are not going to go down.  I also have heard that gasoline will remain at a nosebleed level and postage rates have already gone up.  I suspect that wages will creep up along with rent, taxes and supplies.  Price increases of virtually everything we use in business is taking place, or already has.  Just check last month’s utility bills.

The majority of cleaners are also experiencing a decline of business, for various factors.  It will be quite sometime before the business rebounds, as we knew it, if it ever will.

With the above statements we can still increase our profits by simply doing things we should have already been doing.  The easiest money we can make is what we save.  I would suggest that you look at the suggestions below and make a list of your own to add to them.  After you have scrutinized your operation to see what needs to be done, Do What is on Your List to reduce costs.

Have night lights and signs on a timer
Steam shut-off valves to equipment that is not being used
Use eyedroppers for spotting of garments
Consider spin disk or regenerative filters
Switch to a less aggressive solvent to reduce claims by color loss or damaged trim
Install low energy/high efficiency lighting
Recover heat from steam return lines
Capture final rinse water for use as the next wash water
Reduce tissue use in men’s garments
Look into more efficient boilers, or least have the gas company run an efficiency check for you
Insulate all steam and return lines.
Replace old presses with newer, low steam use, European finishing equipment
Have adequate production standards?  (And demand that they be adhered to)
Fix the vacuum so garments can be dried on the presses

Another way to increase your income is to get serious about staying in business.

I would suggest that you Hire a good marketing company to guide you.  When you do, get one that is industry specific.  There are several excellent companies or individuals available to you.  I would suggest that you look at it as you would a new piece of equipment and simply budget the money for their expertise.

Plan on doing some serious and effective advertising…and budget for this also.  It should project for two to three years to start.  After that the budget can be adjusted.

Think like a business person.
Perhaps billboards will give you excellent exposure.
Perhaps Frequent Flyer miles would go over big in larger markets.
Television advertising may not be out of the question.
Utilize really innovative promotions to excite customers & Potential customers.

Of course, without saying, your front counter is the highlight of the business and your brightest stars need to be there.  It is not a training ground for new hires or a place for dingy lighting and unswept floors.  Tattoos, Belly Button rings, Green Hair and the Grunge look is definitely out!

Consider hiring an industry consultant to look over your operation and make suggestions.  This can be a very low cost way of finding out how you can begin saving money Today!  I have heard
many horror stories of people hiring large “Business Consulting Companies” that have no experience in our unique industry.  Hire someone that knows what the industry is all about and what it takes to be profitable.

There are so many excellent ways of promoting your business that are fairly inexpensive.  A rule of thumb for marketing or advertising in the past was to spend 5% or your total gross income on promotion of your business.  To begin it may take more than that to really get the ball rolling.  The 5% figure is to maintain the business.

Procedural Changes to Reduce Expenses

Check on your marking-in area to see
if you are getting the up-charges you should be getting for difficult or expensive garments.  Scrutinize your tagging area for efficiency and method of tagging.  Garment retailers favor plastic strings used with a Dennison type gun for tagging because they do not damage the garment, care label, store label nor do they come off if inserted properly.

Tagging should also be done with the cleaner’s, finisher’s and assembler’s job in mind and not to place a garment tag where it will interfere with their jobs.  The cleaner really needs to read care labels; finishers don’t need the tag wadded up underneath a piece of fabric they will be working on and the assembler doesn’t need to play the game of “Let’s Find the Tag”.  There are definite places for tags to go on every garment that will keep them out of the way so the job can be done faster and more professionally.  I have seen customers want to commit murder when their favorite store label was ruined by stapling and putting holes in the label.

A garment should go one way through a plant and never have to back up during the process.  The plant should be laid out like an assembly line, and everything done to the garment for future operations should be done before passing it along to the next employee.  For example, the prespot garments should be hung over the side of a basket or kept separate from the rest of the garments in order to save the cleaners time while building loads.  After cleaning, the cleaner will inspect every part of every garment to make sure it is clean and free of spots and stains.  When he has prespotted a garment and verifies the stain has been removed then he can tear the prespot tag half way down its length and this is a non-verbal way of saying that the pressers do not need to check to see if it is gone.

When finishing instructions have been marked with a tag then if the finisher will also tear half of the tag lengthwise this will indicate the special instructions have been completed.  When garments are being inspected they should be thoroughly inspected for cleaning, spots and pressing.  Too frequently garments simply don’t have a final inspection because the inspector is also the assembler and the tag number is the most important thing they look for.  If this is happening then management should set the standard for inspection and demand that it be followed.  One of the reasons that business is down is because of the poor quality that customers are receiving from their cleaners.  They really don’t like “sorry Butt” tags, double creases, or pleats that are not pleated to the front crease in men’s trousers.  They also don’t like a jacket collar that has not been properly formed either by hand, a collar press or a tensioning multiform.  Most ladies garments should not have creased sleeves except some blouses.  Creased sleeves are a dead giveaway that the finisher either doesn’t know how to finish properly, or simply doesn’t care and can get by with sloppy work.  The excuse that “All of our customers want it that way” is pretty far fetched.

Customers do like to have buttons replaced and tags removed.  A lot of cleaners don’t remove tags and say the reason is that when they make a mistake in assembling it is easier to find.  Baloney, that is an excuse for not getting the garment ready-to-wear when it is picked-up.  If mistakes are made in assembling I would suggest that you either train your employees to do their jobs or replace them…Ipods, Cell Phones, Earphones and all.  A good way to do inspection/assembly is to first inspect, thoroughly, ten to fifteen garments then assemble them.  Then do it again to the next ten to fifteen.

It goes without saying that the cleaning solvent has to be maintained in top condition through distillation or some other means of cleaning the solvent and paying close attention to the detergent charge or injection.  It is thought that if a little detergent is good, a lot is better.  Not true.  Too much detergent can remove dyes, create odors, and hinder water-soluble soil removal.  Too many cleaners do not add a moisture injection or addition to their anionic detergent/solvent solution.  Most customers bring in their garments because of perspiration and odors in their garments.  If there is no moisture in the solvent/detergent mixture, there will be little to no water-soluble soil removal.

A proper cleaning solution can do wonders for time consuming spotting by removing the spots in the drycleaning machine and leaving only the actual stains to be hand removed on the spotting board.

That should be enough to get started on making your business as profitable as it should be.