National Clothesline
National Clothesline
Editorials
The starting line of the race to the future
Perhaps businessman Andrew Grove said it best: “Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.”
As Clean 2013 fast approaches, now is not the time to be complacent. It’s time to make your plans to be in New Orleans this June, whether you are looking for the tools and resources to become successful or you already are successful and wish to remain so. Sometimes, a healthy dose of paranoia serves as an excellent motivator. With that said, you should get your plans set and reservations made before the clock runs out.
Of course, if paranoia is not your cup of tea, perhaps words of wisdom will suffice instead. Attending the Clean Show is the smartest decision you can make, either as an attendee or an exhibitor.
Exhibitors will be out in full force because they know it is an excellent venue to introduce new products, demonstrate new technological features and capabilities on older models and to obtain and develop valuable sales leads. Speaking to customers firsthand means better customer service, an opportunity for helpful, informative feedback and a way to add a personal face to your brand name.
As for attendees, there is no better time and place (at least not for another two years) to discover the latest and greatest industry trends, products and resources. By the way, chances are your competition will be there doing the same whether you opt to go or not. Regardless, if you have questions about what you need for your business right now and what you will need to succeed in the near future, Clean 2013 is the best place to find the answers. Where else are you going to have access to all of the most brilliant thinkers in the drycleaning industry?
Speaking of which, there will be over 35 hours of educational sessions offering clever strategic business tactics as well as advice on dealing with professional, regulatory, environmental and technical issues from the likes of the Drycleaning and Laundry Institute, the Coin Laundry Association and other cosponsoring associations that are easily worth the price of admission. And while there is certainly no shortage of things to learn, cleaners will have less time to do it this year. With Clean dropping its format down from four days to three, cleaners are advised to map out a detailed game plan ahead of time in order to get the most out of the experience. After all, you don’t want too much down time. That may lead to complacency and it will be a long, long time until the show returns in the summer of 2015.
Ready to serve that last customer?
Amidst the day-to-day concerns of serving your business’s next customer, it’s easy to forget about your business’s last customer. That customer won’t be coming to you with a bundle of dirty laundry. No, that customer, you hope, will be coming with a bundle of money to buy your business.
That day may seem far in the future, but you never really know. Besides, whether it comes next month or next year or is a decade or more away, it’s something to think about now. And while it’s a different proposition than serving customers day to day, there are some similarities.
Cleaners are often advised to step outside their role as owner/manager and look at the business from the customer’s point of view. This involves the curb appeal of the storefront, cleanliness of the counter area and other “first impression” factors. Those will be important for that last customer, too, but there’s more. Step back and ask, “Would I buy this business from me?”
Would your business look like a solid investment to a buyer or would that new owner be buying your old problems? Perhaps the reasons for selling are the very reasons that would make a potential buyer back off. If you hope to receive maximum value for your business, consider what that buyer will be looking for, not just some “rule of thumb” value based on a formula of X times annual sales.
Here are a few things that ideal buyer will want: equipment in good operating condition with a life expectancy of seven years (the length of most business loans); a long-term lease; increasing sales; financial records that are accurate and can be verified; employees who are paid “on the books;” a point-of-sale computer.
All of these are under your control and are issues to address now as part of your exit plan. Your mission to maximize the value of your business before putting it on the market begins today no matter when that search for the last customer begins.

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