Every time I visit my local dry cleaner, I wonder why they, and most other dry cleaners, don’t seem to do anything proactively to brand and market their business. And then a writer for Fabricare magazine, a publication of the International Drycleaning & Laundry Institute, contacted me to ask about that very question.
“Dry cleaners, like attorneys and accountants, take what they believe to be the safe route and follow those around them,” said Petri Darby, owner of darbyDarnit Public Relations in Houston. “They look the same, feel the same, and act the same. In doing so, they only get the business that comes to them based on geographic proximity.”
Small mom and pop shops will face increasing pressure from regional, national and environmentally friendly dry cleaning brands, like MW Cleaners, that recognize the benefit of a strong brand image, consistently good service, personalization, communicating and marketing through every point of contact (including the clothes bags), community relations programs, and more. Those chains will eliminate proximity and price from the equation as they challenge the notion that dry cleaning is just a commodity service.
This is an important lesson for all small businesses that think that business is usual will be fine going forward. Industry consolidation will happen and many stand-alone shops will disappear. There’s still time for those businesses to reexamine the way they operate and present themselves. But many current owners will be taken by surprise when they start losing business and have to make the difficult decision to close.