So You Think You are Paying Too Much at the DryCleaners . . .

I was at a party recently, and a friend of mine commented on how they stopped using our drycleaning service several times.  He felt we were too expensive.  However, each time he very quickly learned that price and value are very different things.

We are known as the most expensive cleaners in town (to which I could make an argument to the contrary. However, that would be another blog post).  I will say that with 4 generations of drycleaners behind us, the true question here is the discussion of PRICE vs. VALUE.

80% of the items we take care of at the cleaners, are items that our clients could clean and finish themselves, at home.  Silks, rayon and cashmere are all (usually) hand washable.  The majority of items we recieve are cotton items - shirts, blouses, dockers, sheets, tablecloths etc.

What is the difference between Value and Price?
ONE NOTE: Clothing is one of the best values we have right now!  The cost of that Kirkland sweater is likely the same price you should pay to clean it locally.  Offshore production and big box retailers have changed the consumer habits around retail items.  Our Nordstroms has dropped the St John Knit label and our Saks is now selling dresses for under $200!  
Unheard of value (and fodder for a future blog on the deterioration of quality in retail garments). 
  • What is your time worth to you.  We are all busy these days. As I get older, I notice that my time is becoming more and more valuable to me. We are all looking for ways to get more done in less time.
  • If you currently do not use a drycleaning service, how much time do you spend cleaning items, and finishing them? I have yet to meet someone who can finish a man's cotton shirt in under 15 minutes (if you can - I would consider offering you a position!)
  • How much time do you spend driving back and forth doing errands each day?  How many of those errands are actually necessary?  There are small ways to organize your life so you can enjoy more of what you like and experience less of what you don't.
A typical drive to the drycleaners is 10 minutes each way with 5 minutes in the shop - so just under 1/2 hour.  But you have to go twice; one to drop off and once to pick up.  That is about an hour of your time spent in the process.  What else could you be doing in that hour?
How much time do you spend doing laundry?  Folding, sorting, and then discovering that you missed a stain, or worse, your daughter somehow snuck a crayon in your load, or a lipstick, and all is ruined!
What if you could automate this task?  How much would it be worth?  I would reason that the time and gas money would make the service worth a minimum of $20 per week - and do you realize many fine cleaners offer this service at no additional charge? 

Peace of mind -  
  • What is the result of your purchase?  Are you certain the work has a satisfaction guarantee?  That if anyone could get the stain out, or the pressing right, it was the person who is providing that service?  (that would include you)
  • Does the finished product make you look good?  Is it clean, and wrinkle free - Showing your style and personality instead of a loose seam, discoloration or last weeks lunch?  Missing buttons are another standard problem - replacing a button can take longer than finishing a shirt!  Who has a needle and thread these days.
  • What percentage had stains or other damage after cleaning that made them unusable?  Or more common these days, embellishments (like wood beads, sequins) that bled or were damaged?
  • Drycleaned garments last longer.  Water is the most aggressive solvent there is, even more so than traditional drycleaning solvent.  Just look at the way the power of water formed the Grand Canyon!  More than 90% of items give up the farm during the cleaning process, it is the natural progression in the life of a garment.  But did you know that a drycleaned shirt will have a life at least twice as long as a hand washed shirt?  The colors will last better and with drycleaning you can clean more often to protect the garment from perspiration (a silk killer), sun damage, fume fading ect! 
  • And when something does "die" is the problem addressed honestly and fairly?
This blog began as an explanation of why the right drycleaner is often a better choice even when they are a little more expensive than the alternative.  It is true - the cost of ruined clothing can be expensive AND (even more importantly) stressful. 

I also have clients that split their orders.  They send the cheap stuff to the cheap cleaner (who doesn't pick up and deliver) and save their favorite items for us to care for.  While I understand this, I often wonder how much effort it takes to manage and recall where all their items are.  Every week we take calls from people looking for clothes that we never received.  Often, we can locate the clothes by calling our competitors!

The right cleaner will save you time and money - both the kind you can quantify like I did above, and also in ways you will never know - because that's what we do.  We provide a convenient service that appears effortless to the consumer - that in reality takes experience and intense attention to detail.

So how do you find a great cleaner if you aren't lucky enough to live in Santa Barbara?  Well, quality knows quality. . . so ask at your quality retail stores and, of course, always ask you well dressed friends!


1 comment:

star whites said...

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Kind regard
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