Q2 2019

Dreaming of Clean in New Orleans

By Don Desrosiers, Tailwind Systems

I’ll be off to New Orleans for the Clean Show soon.  It’ll be my 16thconsecutive show, dating back to the legendary Dallas snowstorm of 1989.  Too many in the industry opt out of the opportunity to attend the Clean Show.  When I ask why – and I always ask – the answer is almost universally “I don’t need anything.”  Here’s a tip:  The best time to go is when you don’t need anything!  I promise!

Suppose you need a POS. It is difficult to comprehend all a POS can do during a DEMO at a Clean Show, but assuming you are able to do so, in order to be fair, you will need to do this for all of the competitive brands. You will need to compare them side-by-side.  This could be overwhelming.  Furthermore, you may be expected to make a decision right away.  Price may play a role where perhaps it should not.


Cost vs. Value

Sometimes something is more expensive and the additional cost is very much worthwhile.  If you go to the Clean Show because you “need something”, you might buy based on a show floor deal.  Dealers and manufacturers offer these deals because it makes sense for them.  They pay a lot of money to get equipment to the show floor in New Orleans.  (Let’s say that’s $500)  If they don’t sell it off the floor, they have to ship it back to their warehouse and it will cost them another $500.  When they sell it later, out of their warehouse, they will charge someone $500 for shipping, but they have already spent $1000 on it.  If they sell it off the show floor and charge you $500 for shipping, they can give you $900 off and still be ahead of the game! The problem is that this might be a great deal for someone, but not necessarily you!  And that is the most important point of all!

This does not mean you should not buy anything at the Clean Show.  But do your research first.  So armed, you’ll be in the best shape.

If you don’t need a shirt unit, by all means, go to the Clean Show to look at and learn about shirt units.  You learned all you need to know about Unipress, Sankosha, Itsumi, and others If you can get a deal that means you should buy now rather than wait until 2020, then by all means, pull the trigger and celebrate at Commander’s Palace.   I can think of three clients off the top of my head I spent time with at one Clean Show or another evaluating shirt units. Not one of these gentlemen bought a unit at the show.  But each of them needed a shirt unit and bought one within a year.  They were fully armed with all the facts, figures and data they needed to make an informed business decision – not a panic-based knee-jerk response. When each of them needed a shirt unit, there was no panic involved.  They each knew exactly what shirt unit they wanted (it was a different unit for each person), so, at that point it was a matter of dollars and cents.  The dollars and cents should never come first. This is certainly true for any piece of equipment you need.


Your Clean Show Assignment

The Clean Show is probably the single best place to learn. You cannot afford to squander it. Here is your assignment – a universal hit list of things to accomplish at the show, no matter what you’re doing and no matter what else is on your agenda:

  1. Pressing equipment (Even if you feel you don’t it)
    1. What does the new equipment do that your current equipment doesn’t do?
    2. Does new equipment make it easier to train new employees?
    3. Would your employees be more comfortable with new equipment?
    4. If your equipment is new and trouble-free, will your employees enjoy their jobs more, making them more likely to stay?
    5. Does the equipment do a higher quality job that may enable you to charge more for your product? Would this increase offset the cost of the equipment?
  2. Drycleaning Equipment – Do you know all you need to know about alternative solvents?
    1. What is involved in training employees on the new solvents?
    2. Are cycle times longer or shorter than what you’re currently using?
    3. Are there any licensing Fees?
    4. What is the true cost of use including hazardous waste disposal, spotting chemicals, training, longer hours, longer cycle times, utility costs?
    5. Is the new equipment landlord friendly?
  3. POS Systems
    1. What is the predicted learning curve?
    2. Monthly fees?
    3. How many stations do I really need?
    4. Are the fees negotiable?
    5. Cloud-based or self-hosting?
    6. Am I paying for features I will never need or never use?
  4. New Products
    1. Will this product help me be a better drycleaner?
    2. Will this product enhance the customer experience?
    3. Will this product make my customers want to come back to me?
    4. Will this product make my customers think of me more often?
    5. Will this product cause my customers to talk about me to their friends and neighbors?
    6. Will this product make me a more desirable option as a neighborhood drycleaner?

So you may not need pressing equipment, a new POS, a washer, a drycleaning machine or any of the multitude of new products you will see at the Clean Show, but they are there for your consideration.  Checking them out is well worth your time.  If you don’t need one right away, then the information will be useful at some key minute in the future. I promise you will feel like an absolute genius on the day you do need a new pants topper and you know exactly which one you want – brand, model number, exactly – because you took a picture of it at the Clean Show and labeled it with the price.


How to Make an Equipment Price Note

On an iPhone, open ‘Notes’ and type “Clean Show 2019” at the top as the title.  Click on the ‘+’ at the bottom to open the camera.  Now snap a picture of the machine you find interesting or wish to compare.  Click on “use photo” to insert the picture into the notes page.  Take another picture of the price placard, model number placard, or just type them in. I prefer taking a picture of the price so I cannot make a mistake.  Now you have a permanent record of the equipment.  Remember, just because equipment was offered at a certain price at a certain time, does not guarantee this price will be guaranteed forever. In fact, you should use your phone maniacally for this at the Clean Show.  That way, you will be an encyclopedia of knowledge.  At least until the next Clean Show!


Don Desrosiers has been in the drycleaning and shirt laundering business since 1978. He is a workflow engineer and a management consultant who provides serves to shirt launderers and drycleaners in the United States, Mexico, and western Europe through Tailwind Systems. He is a member of the Society of Professional Consultants and the 2001 recipient of DLI’s Commitment to Professionalism Award. He can be reached at 186 Narrow Avenue, Westport, MA 02790 or at his office by fax (508) 636-8839; by cell (508) 965-3163; or e-mail at tailwindsystems@charter.net. He has a website at www.tailwindsystems.com. The author’s views are his own and do not represent official Drycleaning & Laundry Institute positions.

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