Business Tips: Plans For Starting A Dry Cleaning Business

What to consider before opening a dry cleaning store: how to plan and research methods, equipment, customers and location.

A dry cleaner is a service business that depends on production to turn a profit. Customers breathe life into this type of business each time they return with their trust and their beloved garments. The owner, the employees and the customers have to communicate their wants and needs to each other on an ongoing basis to continually produce the professional results that are expected by all. This delicate balance is what makes dry cleaning such a diverse business. Keeping this balance requires the owner and or manager to care about people and to have the ability to coordinate tasks and to keep the proverbial "balls in the air". They need to be as comfortable with adversity as they are with praise.

A dry cleaning plant does not spring up overnight. Planning and research are necessary to fulfill legal, personal and customer needs. The prospective owner, a franchise company or a professional research company can determine the past life of a prospective location, which is often as important as its future. A booming area today could be off the beaten path tomorrow if a new highway is built nearby. Even the part of the country matters. For instance, customers in central states tend to like starch in their blue jeans. People from the other parts of the country could not imagine wearing stiff jeans.

Elements such as local city ordinances, the dry cleaning equipment that will be used, available space for customer parking, security, employee availability and potential customer base are necessary to make the decision of where to locate a dry cleaning plant. In addition there are federal and environmental regulations imposed upon businesses that have to be closely followed. Information about dry cleaning is available on the internet as well as in trade publications. Be aware that the information found from these sources could be slanted towards one belief versus another. Always look beyond the sales pitch. Search out information that is provided by people already working inside the dry cleaning industry.



Various methods of dry cleaning require various types of equipment. The clothes are actually cleaned in one of a variety of liquid solutions. Whichever one a dry cleaner chooses to use - the results are pretty much the same. The finishing equipment chosen will largely depend on the method of dry cleaning used. A piece of finishing equipment can be very general in its design or it can be very specialized to perform specific duties. Your location may dictate which method you use due to the property owner's legal liabilities. For instance, a freestanding location may have fewer regulations and liabilities than would a location placed in a strip mall.

Often the best way to get a true feel for the dry cleaning business is by working as an employee of an established dry cleaner. Time spent getting "on the job training" will pay great dividends while training your own employees. Ask questions and compare what you are shown with what you are told and with what you read. Industry-insider publications are readily available to you, as an employee, through a member of a dry cleaning association. You can also receive hands on training through a dry cleaning organization.

Working capital is the most important item that has to be in place before opening a dry cleaning plant. Operating capital has to be sufficient to purchase supplies, to pay day-to-day expenses and to cover payroll until the income catches up. Typically the customer does not pay for services until they return to pick up their garments. Managing customer turn around time is essential in managing cash flow.

Managing production time and costs will determine the prices that you charge for your services. The prices will also be determined by the needs of your customer base. Individual prices can be adjusted as you find what works and what does not. If you are in the correct location for your level of services, the mix is a good one.

Other professions work well side by side with, as well as within a dry cleaning business. People need their garments repaired, altered, and sometimes picked up and delivered. Your employees can perform these services or they can be outsourced to someone else. Your customers will look at these services as if they are performed by your business. Their relationship with your business may depend on their satisfaction with the companies that represent you and your services. A survey filled out by your customer base will keep you advised if all is going well.

If you are a person that enjoys a variety of duties blended together to make a business successful - you should consider a dry cleaning business. Purchase an existing dry cleaning plant or build your own. Either way you will find that your own style has much to do with the ability to draw in the customers. Hard work is to be expected and multiple areas of satisfaction are to be the rewards.

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