National Clothesline
National Clothesline
Editorials
Finding the answer that’s best for you
Drycleaners are always trying to come up with the perfect solution to clean clothes as effectively and efficiently as possible. Which spotting chemicals work best on which stains? Which temperatures are appropriate for the various materials out there? What is the best cleaning time and method? What is the best equipment? What is the best solvent?
Ultimately, there is no universal formula for drycleaning, though certain methods and materials work better depending on the specifics of each situation. Because there is not one cleaning technology that is perfect for all garments and items, cleaners will often disagree over which solvent is the best choice in which to invest. A compelling case may be put forth no matter which solvent you advocate.
This notion is true when it comes to being an entrepreneur and managing your business. There is no sure-fire recipe for running it successfully. There may be certain factors that can help you steer in the direction toward profitability, but there is no silver bullet guaranteed to make your company thrive no matter what industry you’re in.
Every business is different. Every market is different. Every client base is different. So, even though you know there is no one faultless solvent for all businesses, there may be a more perfect solvent for your business. Only you know what you are trying to accomplish with your business model and only you can decide which tools and resources will put you in the best possible position to convert that model into reality.
That’s where knowledge comes in. Predicting the future is a tricky prospect. Drycleaners face a particularly tough challenge with the potential obstacle of government regulations that only stand to be more stringent with time. Choosing the right solvent for your plant may be compounded by having to factor in whether the solvent you choose will be a feasible option down the road. Fortunately, cleaners have a perfect forum to gather as much information to make that decision. An Alternative Solvent Summit in Denver is coming on March 9 and it is an excellent opportunity to gather intelligence on all solvent options in order to make a more informed decision pertaining to your business and its solvency. If you haven’t made plans to attend yet, reconsider. There’s no time like the present to start plotting out your future.
Coming clean about being green
Whatever one may think of cleaners who fly “green” banners, be they organic, natural, nontoxic, or environmentally friendly, one thing is clear: they are giving customers what they want. The “green” movement appeals to much of the public these days. The appeal seems to be especially strong in upscale areas, at least according to a recent New York Times article. The Times noted that cleaners advertising themselves as environmentally friendly are most prevalent in the more affluent areas. One cleaner interviewed by the Times has been in business for decades and said he adopted the “green” marketing tact because that is what his customers want.
Sometimes these “green” claims are questionable, or at least possibly misleading. Is a cleaner who call himself “organic” because he uses hydrocarbon any greener than a competitor who uses another solvent? Not necessarily. Solvent choice alone does not make a cleaner green. How that solvent is used makes a difference. So too do other factors — recycling hangers and poly or using reusable bags instead make a good environmental presentation to customers. Energy efficiency of equipment, lighting and vehicles used in the business have as much impact on “greenness” as what’s running through the cleaning machine.
The good news is that implementing these practices can have a positive impact on the bottom line. Who wouldn’t like to have lower bills for gas, electric and water? With rates for all of these in a permanent upward trend, the only way to cut costs is to use less.
The bad news is that cleaners who just slap a green banner on their windows are asking for trouble. Can they explain why they are organic and why that makes a difference? What do they mean by “natural?” And is anything truly nontoxic? When cleaners in Santa Monica, CA, were asked those questions by city officials, they couldn’t provide answers and thus became the subject of city action and newspaper articles about their failure. And they were forced to take down their green banners.
Do indeed tell the public about your efforts to be environmentally friendly. The public wants and needs to know. But play it straight. Make sure your claims are factual and defensible. Be ready to come clean about being green.

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