National Clothesline
National Clothesline
You ought to be in movies
There’s a reason why people love movies so much. They often make life seem more colorful
and brighter, more exciting and glamorous. The sky’s the limit. In a way, drycleaners do
something similar, though on a smaller scale. They make clothes sparkling clean and beautiful
to help people feel better when they wear them. So, when the two worlds meet it can be the
start of a beautiful relationship. You can bet your bottom dollar that costume designers
appreciate when their exquisite creations are cared for and made to look as stunning as
possible by a cleaner. You can also bet your bottom line that that cleaner will also benefit from
the relationship. This month’s
story on Trotter’s Dry Cleaners is an excellent example.
The small Cleveland shop doesn’t seem ideal to tackle all of the costumes for a $220 million-
budgeted blockbuster, but that’s exactly what happened when the crew from The Avengers
rolled in to shoot major scenes in 2011. According to plant owner Victoria Trotter, many big
movies companies look to work with small mom-and-pop type businesses. “Companies like
Marvel are open to doing business with small operations like ours,” she said. “The catch is we
have to be ready, meaning we have to be up in the latest technology and be willing to go the
extra mile in terms of quality and performance.”
In the beginning, Trotter herself probably wasn’t as ready she would have preferred; the
project turned out to be much bigger in scope than she anticipated. However, the experience
taught her that her company and employees can be challenged to the limit and rise above for
the occasion. As the result, not only has she earned several lucrative cleaning jobs for other
films, but it has also elevated the popularity of Trotter’s with her customers and in the media.
“The publicity that has come from doing these movies has been extraordinary... to be able to
draw attention to our brand that way,” she said. “A lot of our customers love the fact that we’re
doing big budget movies.”
Obviously, big movie companies do not film in every city, but it doesn’t hurt to read the
newspapers to find out when they come your way. For Trotter, the trick was to position herself
well. She made contacts through her local theater costume jobs and those eventually expanded
to the film industry. So, even though you can’t control when Hollywood comes calling, you can
control what happens if they do. Diversification often starts small, but when incorporated
successfully, the sky is the limit to how far it can take your business.
It’s time to work your magic
As a drycleaner, you are a person of many skills — chemist, machinist, marketer,
psychologist, accountant, computer technician, plumber, electrician — the list goes on. Oh, and
don’t forget, sometimes a janitor.
To pull all the skills together into one functioning package that keeps your business running
smoothly, you really have to be a magician. Indeed to most customers, it all seems like magic.
They drop their dirty, rumpled clothes on your counter and you return them looking like new.
Maybe even better than new. How is it all done? Magic! Few people outside the industry really
know what goes on back there in the plant and most don’t really want to know. For all they
know, you take their clothes in the back lay them on a table, wave a magic want over them
and spots disappear, grime falls out and wrinkles vanish.
When a radio talk show host asked his listeners if they’d like to have a magic washing
 that would do all of the above in exchange for 10 points of IQ, many if then jumped
on the offer. They were apparently unaware that such magic is already readily conveniently
available just down the street or around the corner or even at their front door. And it doesn’t
require dealing with space aliens or giving up brain cells to enjoy the benefits of that magic.
Therein lies a challenge to this industry. We offer something that nearly everyone wants —
their favorite clothes cleaned and pressed, ready to wear again with minmal effort on their part
— but too many people would prefer to fantasize about strange offers from alien creatures than
to simply avail themselves of the services of the magician known as the drycleaner. We have to
make more people aware that drycleaners have the power to make the unpopular chore of
washing, drying and ironing disappear. Not only do professional cleaners do a better job than
most home launderers, they do it more efficiently and with less environmental impact.
Drycleaners, not space aliens, are the solution to the problem.