Let’s look at our quality and see if we can raise the bar. Or, in the words of my famous cousin Emeril Lagasse, “Let’s kick it up a notch!”
When we justify higher prices to ourselves or our customers, we say we produce a higher quality product than the discounter around the corner. However, we render ourselves speechless when we mystery shop that competitor and learn they do a darn good job.
I have seen this many times. Many clients admit openly: “The discounter does a heck of a nice shirt for $1.25!” or the one-price cleaner who charges $1.99 for the pants you price at $8. If your defense is “quality”, sometimes, you don’t have much to stand on.
It’s not that you’re doing a bad job, it’s just that the quality is indistinguishable. If you mystery-shop the competitor, you secretly hope to find double-creased pants with a broken zipper, broken buttons, and shirts with horizontal creases across the backs. If you find that, you take it to the bank. You never forget it. You share it with your customers as though such defects happen with every garment (and you know they don’t). When you don’t find that, you’re disappointed because the discounter actually does a good job.
Well, stop worrying about your competitor and take your quality up a notch. It’ll be minor things. Afterall, you do a good job now but you want your customers to feel that if they try a competitor, they won’t know exactly what the difference is, but it won’t feel right. The attention to detail will be missing.
Let’s start with shirts. Cuffs have become two-sided objects. Look at Figure 1. It will be a chore to get these right, especially when they have been pressed incorrectly dozens of times but the errant creases on the cuffs have got to go! On a new shirt, you will need to press both sides of the cuff so that one side doesn’t relax while the other side stretches. A well-worn one like the one pictured will take some effort. I encourage you to tell your customer what you have done afterwards. There’s no sense going through all of that work and not getting credit for it.
Figure 1 – Cuffs have become 2-sided objects. You need to press the underside.
Figure 2 – No crease means… no crease
No crease means no crease. This one always gets to me. When a customer requests no crease, it doesn’t mean “put the crease on the side of the pants leg so I look like a dork.” That is called “flat press.” Flat press is used for navy sailor uniform whites and I don’t think anything else. When a customer wants “no crease”, the leg of the trousers should be finished on a Cindy Lou. There should be no crease on the leg. Your customers will be impressed that someone finally gets it!
Figure 3 – Part of this cuff isn’t pressed!
Look at figure 3. Half of the cuff isn’t pressed. This is just plain sloppy and careless. This gets by touch-up and inspection. The customer will see this defect more than any other defect on the shirt. Every time he goes to look at his watch, he will wonder why the cuff looks only half pressed. It is just too easy to do it right and it doesn’t take any longer to do it right. Maybe the discounter will do this, but don’t you dare!
Figure 4 – There is no reason that we should tolerate these wrinkles on the front of a shirt.
Look at figure 4. When you press a light-weight cotton shirt, you may get wrinkles in the front of the shirt, as shown, right near the button placket and buttonhole placket. A customer may wonder what that is all about. Afterall, he paid you to press the shirt and there are wrinkles in it! What’s up with that? This happens because the shirt does not have enough moisture in it – it’s too dry. Modern, blown-sleeve shirt units require a higher moisture retention than you think (50%-60%) in order to produce a perfect shirt. In fact, you can probably eliminate half of your touch-up issues if you increase your moisture retention today.
Figure 5 – No attention paid to the pockets!
My personal pet peeve is when the pockets of trousers are left all crumbled up and then the pants are pressed that way. Often it is much worse than what is pictured in Figure 5. You will really distinguish yourself as a professional if you flatten out the pockets and iron them out before putting them on a topper. And while on the subject of pants…. If you button all the buttons and pull up the zipper, you will assure the customer that there are no broken buttons and that the zipper works. Remember: the goal is to produce a garment that is ready to wear.