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Customers’ Paradigm Shift

by A.L. Wilson's Jeff "The Stain Wizard" Schwarz

Paradigm: A typical example or pattern. A model used.

If the ongoing business model is that a segment of the working population will continue to do so from home, the drycleaning community (us) can probably not recover to pre-pandemic sales numbers with the same business model.

Routes, wash/dry /fold and pick up-on-demand are all good strategies, but how do you change your customers’ paradigm to let your business do what they have always done?

Selling Time, Not just a Service.

Think about it...If you have a swimming pool, chances are really good that you have a pool maintenance person. Many people hate the thought of doing their own lawn care (mowing, weeding, edging, fertilizing, sprinkler repair, etc.). Many households employ some kind of maid/ house cleaning services as well.

Laundry Service

The average family of 4 will spend approximately 120 hours/year doing home laundry (socks, towels, underwear, sheets, etc.). The challenge is to entice them to let your business do the everyday laundry for them. It’s really not that far of a stretch. Lawn Service, Pool Service, Maid Service…Laundry Service. People simply can’t wash duvet covers, for king size bedspreads and heavy blankets as well as professional service cleaners and launderers can.

Once people sleep on professionally washed/dried and ironed sheets, they will revel the service.

Amin Bata, owner of Pepper Square Cleaners, Dallas, offered a special of 2 pillow cases, 1 fitted sheet, 1 regular sheet washed and pressed for $19.95. He had so much volume he had to make some modifications because he was too busy processing all the work. Today he is still doing the linens, but now charges $ 34.00 and up!!


A drycleaner in Arizona does area rugs for customers by simply renting a home improvement store rug cleaning machine. She sprays the dirty rug with a warm digester solution, allows it to penetrate into the fibers, waits 1 hour, then extracts and hang dries them over a rolling rack. The charge is $45-$150 per rug.

Tennis Shoes

Look at your customers the next time they walk in. Have you ever told a single customer that you can clean their tennis shoes?? Do you realize what some of these athletic shoes cost these days? $200- to over-$400.00!!!! I challenge you: take 1 pair of your old tennis shoes, clean 1, leave the other as is, make a display on your counter announcing, ”We clean and restore athletic shoes.” See what happens!!

Mike Monaghan, Continental Cleaners, Del Mar, California, told me just last week of a grandmother who brought in her 8 year old granddaughters expensive pair of tennis shoes and asked, ”Is there anything that you can do to save these”? She asked. “I‘ll take care of it,” Mike said - and he did. All that was required was pre-treat the shoes using A.L.Wilsons’ RiteGo, let them sit overnight and washed them. ”They came out perfectly!” His CSR staff are now competing on how many customers they can get to have their shoes restored!!! Whoever sells the most gets a bonus!


Think about how many purses ladies have and how filthy the bottoms and insides can be. Practice on your own items, then sell the service. If you’re not qualified, send it out to someone that is. (Your leather care professional is a good place to start. Chances are you don’t want to mess around with a $900 - $4000 Alexander McQueen, if you don’t know what you’re doing.)

What do I Charge?

Doris Easley always told me, “I don’t care what the item is a $50,000 wedding dress or a $500 pair of sneakers, if someone is bold enough to tell you what they paid for the item, you charge 10% of that price to clean it. Chances are the customer didn’t drive up in a 1982 VW bug. They drove up in a Porsche or Range Rover.”

This reminds me of a customer, extremely well to do, who came into a drycleaner in Midland,TX with very old, embroidered napkins and a large tablecloth, stained from a recent New Year’s Celebration. Upon inquiring how much it would take to clean them, the Owner replied, ”$25 per napkin (there were 10) and $150 for the tablecloth.” That seems a little high, but I trust you’ll do a good job, said the customer and left.”

After the customer was gone the CSR who witnessed this exclaimed, “You can’t charge $ 25.00 for a napkin, and 150.00 for a tablecloth!!” “Well I just did.” And so began the lesson...

“These are monogrammed napkins, these old yellow stains are probably heat set, old oxidized oil stains that have been there awhile. These look to be a family heirloom. My time, my chemicals, my expertise to remove these stains and return them “like new” what the customer is paying for.”

Good Luck In 2021, and Let’s Press On.

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