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Dan Eisen is the former chief garment analyst for the Neighborh
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Rey’s Cleaners finds ways of handling garments that are unique in the drycleaning industry
I spent a few days at Rey’s
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Cleaners on a training and consultation assignment. Rey’s Cleaners, which is located in Miami, FL, is well known for quality, expertise and the ability to handle high end garments and problems that are associated with them.
This high-volume quality cleaner has a 32,000-sq.-ft. production area and employs more than 50 people. The operation is run by Angel Suarez, his wife, Maria, and his children, Frankie, Angel and Christina.
Their employees are all well trained in handling customers, spotting and cleaning expensive high end garments. I spent a great deal of time with the spotting department and the customer service staff. The following is a summary of what we accomplished at the training session.
Solving problems
Superstars of the drycleaning industry
By Dan Eisen
Management and marketing superstar: Robert Shapiro
General manager, Milt and Edie’s Drycleaners in Burbank, CA.
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The drycleaning industry is one of the few professions that fails to recognize its talented people. We know the great talents in sports, cooking, entertainment and the arts. As a New York State licensed professional drycleaning and EPA instructor for over 40 years, I have taught and continue to teach America’s Best Cleaners and other high end cleaners. I feel that I have enough exposure to give a fair judgment to the talent on hand.
Robert manages a high volume drycleaning operation that is open seven days a week. All equipment is in perfect running order. He oversees a staff of 69 people, including 27 counter people and 12 tailors, all nicely dressed in store uniforms. I have observed Robert for many hours and saw him performing amazing management, marketing and customer relations that make him a superstar.
Accomplishments
Service: Milt and Edie’s Drycleaners guarantees two-hour quality service on garments or the customer does not have to pay for it. The spotting and finishing staff are all high technically trained people with no weak links. The same quality can be observed on the day and night shifts.
Incentives for new business
Robert has coupon programs that bring in 25 percent new business. He personally made a deal with Warner Brothers to advertise on Milt and Edie’s Drycleaners hangers. The studio promised to send their 2,000 employees to Milt and Edie’s Drycleaners for their drycleaning needs and will do television filming outside their store when possible.
Popcorn and other goodies are given to customers at the store.
Customer satisfaction
All customers leave the store smiling. Robert has a winning way with the customers and they love him. Robert says it is the combination of the warm, friendly service and the popcorn odor and other goodies that he serves all day long to his customers. One day a customer walked in because of ink on his car seat. Robert went out and personally removed the ink free of charge. The store also has a policy of recognizing loyal customers with calls, gifts and birthday celebrations.
He runs unique programs on Facebook with photo contests and other interesting programs. In spite of his dedication to his profession he finds the time to run, bike and climb mountains. Robert does private consultations and can be contacted at (818) 381-3586 or (818) 953-4627.
Removing tough food grease and oil stains on chef’s uniforms. Angel Suarez, Jr., had a problem removing these stains efficiently and economically.
Solution. It is not cost-effective to pre-spot these garments or handle them in drycleaning. We set up a wetcleaning program to handle these garments, introducing in the wetcleaning formulation strong non-ionic detergents with a great deal of mechanical action.
The non-ionic detergents work better on oil and grease and less efficiently on soil. We boosted the cleaning action of the non-ionic detergents by adding alkali to the formulation. We also decreased the water temperatures to avoid setting the oxidized oil stains.
This formulation worked very well in solving the problem.
Peeling of imitation leather and bonded leather in wetcleaning. Angel Suarez, Jr., was having a problem with these garments, also. In wetcleaning, the coating was peeling and separating. Two of the brands involved were Rag & Bone and J Brand.
Rey’s Cleaners has a very large volume, so hand cleaning was not the way to go.
Solution. I found that the wetcleaning system they were using contained non-ionic detergents and softening agents in the formulation. This formulation in wetcleaning will loosen the adhesive and bonding on these garments. This problem was solved by using just a small amount of an anionic detergent in cool water with no other additives.
Oxidized staining on colored silk fabrics. Angel Suarez, Sr., personally works on the more expensive and most difficult high end garments. Some problems that he encountered were removing difficult perspiration and oxidized staining on some of the silk fabrics.
Solution. We showed how the proper use of hydrogen peroxide can effectively solve this problem. Hydrogen peroxide can be used in strengths ranging from 3 to 14%. It is accelerated by light, heat and alkali.
We formulated some hydrogen peroxide mixtures and only used light and time to accelerate the bleaching action. On some fabrics we were able to increase the concentrations of the peroxide in conjunction with heat and alkali. The methods employed were dependent on the fabric, color and its sensitivity.
Counter spotting. Angel Suarez, Jr., wanted to create a spotting program at the counter. When stains were noticed by the counter staff they could pre-spot the stain to avoid setting the stain after drycleaning. This would also avoid the problem of the inspector who could easily miss the stain.
We had to use a safe agent to accomplish this. The pre-spotting agent must be neutral in nature, neither acid nor alkali. We also needed a pre-spotting agent with no odor and limited moisture that would rinse out in drycleaning.
Solution. We introduced Angel to Enzy-Spot, which is a liquid enzyme product. The spotting agent is also mixed with surfactants that were soluble in all drycleaning solvents. The water content of the agent is low, so it would dry quickly and avoid the problem of dye bleeding.
Customer service staff. We showed the staff how to inspect garments properly and to avoid customer complaints. We showed how a garment could be held up to the light to reveal damages not seen while just hanging.
We told the staff how to explain to the customer about invisible stains and why they occur. The example of cutting an apple in half and leaving it exposed to the air indicates to a customer the browning effect produced on the apple from the air.
The customer service staff was also instructed on using my “Spectralight,” which is a black light examination that detects invisible stains and fabric damages. Angel Suarez, Jr., ordered six more Spectralights.
Spotting staff. I spent a lot of time going over the principles and basics of spotting. We showed the proper use of chemicals and proper usage of the steam gun and spotting brushes. The spotting staff has a great deal of knowledge and absorbed all of this information readily.
Angel Suarez, Jr., is a go getter and constantly looks to expand his business. His current endeavor is on-site cleaning. I have taught many people who are in this type of business and they have agreed to help him in any way that they can.