Why are Dry Cleaners essential? by Kim Sekleski-Polley, Member of Board of Directors CFA (Canada)

Why are Dry Cleaners essential?  In the wake of a pandemic we are being tested daily on bacteria and dirty surfaces,  We have been programmed to change our undergarments daily from infancy, have a shower, brush our teeth and wash our face not only for appearance value in public but for our long term health and wellness.   Our society has also adopted the wash and wear, repeat until cleaning is necessary attitude.

As a recognized essential service in the wake of a pandemic on a “viral magnitude”  we have somehow become complacent in  allowing the family area rug to be cleaned once a year before a family get together or after a new puppy has an accident.  The number of microbial bacteria on our family floor “filters” has become the new standard of clean.  Not due to the lack of good quality services or even price, but due to the lack of education provided to the customers who frequent our counters.

During a time when we are fighting for new customers to visit our business’ is it too farfetched to reach out to and educate those who have already determined the necessity in our essential service to keep them clean and healthy. The cleaning acceptance standard has been adjusted by the way society has programmed our very consumers to invest their hard-earned dollar into a throw away product.   Manufacturers spend endless time, money, and resources to obtain a customer over a brand or product they want them to wear with continued success in marketing.   These customers then turn to a good service qualified and environmentally friendly local cleaner to do the job of keeping that garment clean for them.

For some customers they frequent our counter once or twice a season for this care.  If it is a winter coat that has been worn to multiple shopping centers, touching as many carts, hung beside other coats during an event, touched door knobs instead of a hand and the like, those customers wouldn’t think twice about cleaning it once every month or two instead of each season if they were cognizant of the amount of bacteria they were carrying on their garment.   As a skilled industry we should be providing our customers with the real science of why it is essential   to maintain the cleanliness of their garments instead of pushing a monthly coupon at them to that may or may not have them walk in the door of our establishment.

Reaching for the new customer during this time is going to be a challenge.  If we move toward obtaining the already established customer who frequently clean and provide education then we can successfully  change them slowly one at a time into educated customers over those who feel dry cleaners are out to grab a dollar, shrink a sweater and ruin the environment.  What we really need is to wake our customers up about the scientific backing associated with what our industry does and has been relied on for years and that is to keep providing an essential service for the sake of keeping our communities healthy.

Offering a different level of service at our counter by means of educating as to when to clean a duvet, coat, rug or drapery may help open the eyes of our customers to something they never saw before.  These mainstay items are filters for holding bacteria and our customers have no idea how unhealthy they really are.

Why are we okay with wearing pyjamas all week until a Saturday wash?  A duvet cleaning seasonally even though your dog is on it daily or your children with sticky fingers.    We need to recognize and turn the industry around to educate people and keep society and our communities at large much healthier.  Offer that rug customer a discount for a continual cleaning, it may begin a thought process in terms of the necessity of regular cleaning. This, in turn, will bring you an established happy and healthy customer who will return to you for years.

Kim Sekleski-Polley is the Owner of Wright Cleaners and Cotty’s Cleaners and a Member of Board of Directors at Canadia Fabricare Association (Canada)