Everything changed as Spring was starting. The novel coronavirus epidemic bloomed into a full-blown global pandemic and the economy stalled. Drycleaning sales across the U.S. and world dropped as much as 85% virtually overnight. The industry has since been in a long, slow recovery. This downturn is lasting longer than most drycleaning business owners first imagined.
From the start of the pandemic in mid-March, DLI began an ongoing effort to offer a host of COVID-19 updates and links to all professional cleaners DLI could reach, members or not. DLI quickly decided that COVID-related information was too important to the public health to restrict to members only and should be openly shared with the entire industry.
Almost immediately after regional shutdowns started, DLI worked with others and advocated to public officials that drycleaning and laundry services are essential and should not be closed as industry services help destroy viruses. Health and safety guidance on handling items for cleaning was quickly collected and shared through all of DLI’s communications channels.
DLI’s efforts did not stop there. The association moved to mobilize all available resources to create a constant flow of vetted and verified information and business assistance tools.
“This has been like no other time in our history,” said Mary Scalco, DLI’s CEO. “The industry as a whole needed DLI more than any other time I can remember. We understood pretty much right away that the only way to get through this is by pulling everyone together. Our mission at DLI is to help cleaners succeed and we’re proud of what our team has accomplished in just a few short months.”
Knowledge is Power
By the end of March, when “normal” became a thing of the past, DLI launched a new initiative to help industry professionals share ideas. DLI also started producing a stream of management and training videos, conference calls, employment guidance, video updates, and more.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, DLI produced and archived the following resources:
- Over 60 member-to-member Zoom meetings for sharing ideas, challenges, and opportunities
- 57 ready-made social media and print marketing designs (three more added weekly)
- 25+ COVID related links and bulletins on DLIonline.org
- 19 business development webinars ranging from marketing and branding to critical maintenance
- Developed an online Facebook Community connecting 850+ DLI members
- 16 webinars sifting through small business relief programs including PPP, EIDL Loans, Main Street Lending Program, Employee Retention Credits, and Workforce opportunity Credits
- 8 live technical training webinars on spotting and finishing
- 5 live stain removal trainings webinars in Spanish
Recordings of each DLI webinar are available on DLIonline.org. Each week, DLI continues to produce and share more webinars and ready-made marketing materials. “Business is recovering slowly,” Scalco said. “DLI is focused on helping cleaners survive until we start seeing better days by banding together and sharing as much information as we can as quickly as we can. And as we move into those better days and they will come we will continue to be there for industry.”