6 Ways for Your Dry Cleaner to Survive Tough Times—Part I

Despite how hard the pandemic has hit the industry, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room. The dry-cleaning business has been hit hard by the pandemic. You have probably seen for yourself stores closing down or at least seen news stories about the plight of the industry. But don’t worry, this is not a doom and gloom article. On the contrary, we want to share with you 6 strategies you can use to adapt to the changing times and by the end, you’ll see there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.


Find Alternatives to Walk-ins

It’s no news that people are more at home now than ever before. People are either intentionally limiting which businesses they visit in person to avoid unnecessary exposure or by now they’re used to having everything delivered and on-demand. 

These consumer trends have forced the dry-cleaning industry to find alternatives to walk-in customers. Here are a few:

Pickup and Delivery

This is a no-brainer. If people are less willing to leave their homes, you have to go to them. Before investing in a delivery van, insurance, and hiring a driver, you can ask your existing customers if they would use this service. Test out this new business model by using your existing personal vehicle and make a few deliveries yourself. You can scale the idea when the numbers make sense to you.


You’ve probably seen these around. Lockers are a great way to reduce human contact and to allow your customers to pick up or drop off their garments on their own time. Lockers are also a great way to create satellite locations because aside from having lockers at your own store you can have some strategically located at grocery stores, pharmacies, or other commonly visited businesses. 


We’re all familiar with the concept of the drive-thru, except your customers will be picking up clothes instead of hamburgers and fries. Although your customers won’t save themselves a trip, they save themselves from parking, getting out of the car, and doing business indoors. This is a great alternative that shouldn’t require much investment on your part. 


Keep “App” With Technology

A sophisticated POS used to be what differentiated dry cleaners. But as you know, times are changing. As you know, times are changing. Now, many customers are expecting every business to have an app—yes, that includes dry cleaners. 

With an app, a dry cleaner can:

  • Manage orders
  • Track pickup and delivery routes
  • Send invoices
  • Offer mobile payments 
  • Communicate with customers
  • Create loyalty programs
  • Manage multiple stores
  • And much more!

Having your own app sounds expensive right? Well, it used to cost tens of thousands of dollars for a business to develop its own app. Now there are cost-effective white label apps where basically all the heavy lifting has been done for you. You just have to add your logo, colors, and customize the settings to your business needs. 

Wash and Fold

One trend you’ve probably noticed is that office wear is less formal and more casual. This trend started well before the pandemic hit. That means that the usual suit-and-tie customer is not showing up at your dry cleaner as often. Instead, your customer is wearing a hoodie or even pyjamas while working from their couch.

Although this trend has meant a significant dip in sales for dry cleaners, it’s an opportunity to pivot and serve your customers’ needs. Although they’re not wearing as much formal clothes for work, they still have to do laundry and they’re still the same busy people they used to be—perhaps even busier.

Lend your customers a hand and offer wash and fold services to make their lives easier. Even better if you can offer this service with pickup and delivery, lockers, or drive-thru.

To be Continued…

We’ve given you three of the six strategies you can use to adapt to the changing times. Stick around for Part II where we’ll cover the remaining three—one of which might be a complete surprise to you. 

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