Avoid making these big mistakes with your dry cleaning business.
It’s been said that a smart person learns from his mistakes, but a wise person learns from the mistakes of others.
Dry cleaning can be a complex industry, and unfortunately there are many mistakes that new owners tend to make. Fortunately, you can learn from others and avoid problems before, during, and after you open the business…
Not Understanding Industry Regulations
Before opening your dry cleaning business, you need to be fully informed and educated on all regulations affecting your operations. Dry cleaning uses various chemicals and a lot of water, so for environmental and conservation reasons there are local and federal regulations that will impact your daily operations and budget. Become fully informed before you make a decision to invest.
Underestimating the Importance of Location
Even if you are the only dry cleaner in the entire county, location is still essential. When searching for a location to place your dry cleaner, it’s tempting to take the first spot that comes your way. It’s even more tempting to take the most affordable. However, price is rarely the most important factor to your success. The dry cleaner you select should be centrally-located in your area, not on the outskirts of town. When in doubt, try to find a place near your dry-cleaning customers, which are generally white-collar office workers and business professionals.
A location near other businesses, such as cafes, coffee shops, and grocery stores will also help your business flourish.
Not Researching Local Cost of Water
As a dry cleaner, your business will depend heavily on water. That means a slight increase in the price can significantly reduce your overall profits. Be sure to research the cost of water in your area and factor this into your potential pricing, as well as your potential future profits. Forecasting for any business will include many factors, but few will rely on the price of water as much as a dry cleaner.
Neglecting Local Marketing
It’s never too soon to start marketing your dry cleaner. If you have selected a good location, you will have community awareness by simply opening your doors, but you still need local advertising to increase initial business. Newspaper ads, local fliers, local SEO, press releases, and other sources will help you increase your future customer base.
Not Installing Garment Management Systems
When you prepare to open your business, you might think that you can keep everything organized by yourself. But when you start conducting business, you’ll inevitably learn that it’s actually quite difficult to keep everything organized. You need a little help, and you can get that help from a complete garment management system that has all the features you need for complete success.
Piling Up Too Much Debt
Starting a business costs money, and most people will need to utilized credit and debt to launch their dry cleaner. While borrowing money can be useful, taking on too much debt can drag down your finances. How much is too much? That will depend on many factors, but just be aware that the more money you borrow, the more risk you are taking.
Not Hiring an Accountant
Before you launch, you need to hire an accountant, preferably a local one who can sit down with you for face-to-face meetings. Having a CPA to help you stay organized, save for taxes, and manage finances could be the difference between a quick exit and long-term success.
Not Giving Staff a Reason to Stay
Now that the business is opened, you need a staff to run your operations. While the dry cleaning industry often relies on relatively low-wage, low-skill employees, you should still treat them like VIPs. Give your employees a reason to stick around and always remember that they are one of the keys to your success.
To keep employees happy and reduce turnover, offer better wages, flexible hours, and generous benefits. Avoid treating them like cogs in a machine and go the extra mile to keep them happy and loyal.
As a small business owner, you are generally wired to do everything yourself. You want to manage the dry cleaner, you want to be the contact point for customers, you want to drive the delivery van…the list goes on. However, effective delegation is one of the most important skills you can learn. You’ll need help running your business, so delegate responsibilities as often as possible so you are free to think about big-picture issues, such as advertising, new services, or expansion.
Not Saving for Machinery Repairs
It’s only a matter of time until machinery breaks down. As a dry cleaner, you should have a hearty emergency fund that helps you deal with dryers, washers, and other equipment that will eventually need repairs. Breakdowns will happen, so for the first year or so, dedicate a portion of your profits to a repairs fund.
If you avoid these mistakes, you can increase your chances for outstanding profits from the moment you open your doors!
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