National Clothesline
National Clothesline
Paying the price for procrastination
I was with my son at a family function a few weeks ago and talking about this column that I write. I told him that I was behind the eight-ball, so to speak.
I usually have three or four of these columns written in advance, but this wasn’t the case today. My deadline was looming and I hadn’t written a word. I was at a bit of a loss for subject matter, but that is a bit lame. Once I get at this keyboard, I always have something to say.
Frankly, I was procrastinating. My son, an amazing man, wise beyond his years, said, “Dad, go write a column about procrastination!”
He is in this industry and is well aware of the goings-on in a drycleaning plant. I told him that I would do exactly that.
There are too many of us that procrastinate. Much of that is associated with maintenance. We seem to put off the silliest things. Adjustments and minor parts replacements are put off.
We wait for the catastrophe that puts our shirt unit out of business. That gets our attention and we fix it. But we probably still don’t deal with the minor tweaks. These fall into a category that I like to call deferred maintenance.
The worst part of this maintenance that never gets done is that it almost always is something that does, indeed, make an employee’s job more difficult, costs us labor dollars and lessens the quality of our product.
Here are some examples. The person doing touch-up is using an iron that leaks water. I’m not sure which is the worst possible outcome, but I have seen the shirt with a wet spot sent along for assembly, I’ve seen the touch-up person struggle for minutes in a (sometimes unsuccessful) attempt at drying the fabric, or the water leaves a yellow spot that means the shirt needs to be rewashed.
Wait! I know what’s worse — the iron leaks water that the touch-up person tries in vain to dry, only to watch it turn yellow, but she sends it along for assembly anyway! (No, I’ve never actually seen that, but I bet it has happened somewhere.)
There is a clamping device on your shirt unit for the cuffs. There are a number of types these days, not just the old kind on the sleeve press.
In virtually every case, if this clamping device fails, it is, 1) a very simple adjustment, or 2) a very inexpensive fix.
Why do we choose to procrastinate and thereby allow our quality to suffer? In every case of a defective clamping device (the one at the collar too!), quality is affected. Instead, we wait in the wings for a catastrophe that is worthy of our attention.
There is a distasteful byproduct of deferred maintenance. Employees get the impression that you don’t care. This is not a good thing.
I have heard so many times, “They don’t fix anything around here.” I am sure that this is an exaggeration, but it does demonstrate that there are minor annoyances that the presser knows should be fixed, but is given the impression that “it’s good enough.”
And we procrastinate when it comes to training as well. Think of each employee on your payroll. Do they do everything perfectly, without exception? Of course not. But when will we get to remediation? Never might be as good a guess as any.
Perhaps your bookkeeper miscategorizes expenses, your CSR doesn’t greet customers properly, your shirt presser doesn’t dress the buck properly resulting in a lousy press quality, your washperson overloads the washers and your drycleaner goes through a heck of a lot of those “sorry” tags.
When is the right time to retrain them?
Why is it that we will always fight the fire at a second’s notice but continually put off the annoying little things that pile up and are often the root cause of the “fires”?
You don’t want your product to be evaluated as just “good enough.” Don’t settle for that around you. Only perfection is “good enough.”
“If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got.”

Don Desrosiers has been in the drycleaning and shirt laundering