By Jim Gilligan
Are you curious about the distinctions between bargain and high-end dry cleaning services? If so, you’re not alone. With so many different types of dry cleaning services available, it can be difficult to know which option is the best fit for you and your wardrobe. As with most goods and services, “You get what you pay for” applies to dry cleaning and laundry services as well.
I thoroughly understand the complexities of running a dry cleaning operation, and over the last 40 years, I have intentionally positioned Snedicor’s to serve customers that demand a premium level of cleaning quality and customer service. At the same time, I’ve helped hundreds of dry cleaning and laundry customers decide whether low-priced dry cleaning services or higher-priced dry cleaning services are their best option.
In this article, I’ll explain the differences between low-priced and high-priced dry cleaning and help you understand the trade-offs you’ll be making in terms of quality, convenience, and customer service.
Once you’ve read this article, you’ll know the key factors to consider when choosing a dry cleaner, and you’ll be able to make a decision that aligns with your garment care needs and your budget.
How drycleaners structure pricing
Like so many businesses, the cost of labor, supplies, and equipment are three big expenses that every cleaning operation must manage to remain viable. Other expenses, such as rent and vehicles, vary between operations, but those three, labor, supplies, and utilities, affect all dry cleaning/laundry operations.
As with many businesses and most service businesses, labor is far and away the highest expense.
Discount cleaners need to keep labor costs at a bare minimum in order to deliver a cheaper product. This seems like a no-brainer. Until you understand the complexity of managing all the different pieces that dry cleaning operations process daily.
Unlike a factory that stamps out widgets that are uniform in every way, each garment we process has a different cleaning need, is made of a different material, and is a different size than the last garment.
Low-priced cleaners must pay employees less and demand higher production to keep prices lower.
This strategy usually results in the following outcomes:
Little attention to maintaining the cleaning chemicals in which your clothes are cleaned.
Lack of pre-inspection of each garment before cleaning.
Less attention to spots and stain removal.
Less attention to pressing quality, such as making sure creases are straight.
Little to no hand ironing.
Little or no post-inspection for stains, lint, broken buttons, and that customer special requests have been met.
Employees that are more focused on speed and less focused on customers’ needs.
Poor employee retention and poorly trained, less engaged employees tends to be a recipe for a lower-quality product.
Higher-priced cleaners tend to pay employees more and require higher standards to achieve premium quality.
This strategy usually results in the following outcomes:
Greater attention to maintaining cleaning chemicals, so clothing is cleaned in fresh, clean solutions.
Thorough pre-inspection of each garment, including following customers’ instructions.
Expert attention to spots and stain removal.
Greater attention to pressing quality, such as making sure creases are straight.
More hand ironing to ensure each piece is ready to wear right off the hanger.
Each item receives rigorous post-inspection to ensure stains and lint have been removed, broken buttons are replaced, and that customer special requests have been met.
Employees that are solely focused on delivering premium quality and service.
Greater employee retention and a better trained, more engaged staff are far more likely to produce a premium product.
Going through thousands of hangers, garment bags, and dozens of barrels of detergents and other cleaning solutions adds up in a hurry!
Choosing cheaper soaps and detergents, hangers, and other packaging supplies can save a significant amount on costs, as can eliminating products like sizing (starch) entirely. Of course, the cleaning, as well as the quality of the final package, will be diminished.
Believe it or not, there is not one machine in the back of each dry cleaning operation that magically cleans and presses your clothes to perfection.
There are many (usually dozens) large pieces of equipment needed to return your garments to like-new condition professionally.
Cleaners can save money and keep prices lower by neglecting to maintain their equipment or even by continuing to use outdated equipment to clean and press your items. Over time cleaning and pressing quality will be diminished.
Key Differences Between Low-Priced and High-Priced Dry Cleaning:
Cleaning process: Low-priced dry cleaners may use cheaper, less effective cleaning methods that can result in lower-quality cleaning and may even damage your clothes. High-priced dry cleaners tend to use more advanced cleaning technologies and techniques that provide a more thorough and gentle clean.
Customer service: Low-priced dry cleaners may have longer wait times, less attentive staff, and fewer amenities. High-priced dry cleaners often provide a more personalized and convenient experience for their customers.
Long-term value: Choosing a discount dry cleaner may save money in the short term, but you may end up paying more in the long run if your clothes are not cleaned properly and require additional cleaning or repairs. Investing in premium dry cleaning can save you money in the long term by helping to extend the life of your clothes and avoid costly repairs or replacements.
Choosing the Right Dry Cleaner for You:
Consider your priorities: Do you prioritize price above all else, or do you value quality, convenience, and customer service?
Think about your budget: How much are you willing to spend on dry cleaning?
What is your time worth? Is one service more convenient than the other, saving you time to focus on more important things in your life?
Weigh the pros and cons:
Consider the factors listed above, as well as the important considerations below, to help you determine which type of dry cleaner is the best fit for your needs.
Are there hidden charges?
Some cleaners “upcharge” some garments based on the amount of work needed, accouterments such as beads and sequins, delicate fabrics, and designer labels. Be sure to check this since these charges can increase your bill in a hurry!
Some cleaners also add an Environmental Fee to the cleaning price and or a Delivery Fee (If they offer pick up and delivery service). These added fees can be an unpleasant surprise.
Is the work guaranteed?
What if you are unhappy with the cleaning or pressing of an item or items you receive back from the cleaners? Will they offer to redo the item for free without hassle? Do they offer a money-back guarantee? Is it in writing?
What if one of my items gets damaged in the cleaning process?
We have items that cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars cleaned and pressed at our Process Lab every day.
One thing to consider when choosing a cleaners is, what is the value of my garments or household items, and what happens if something is damaged or lost while in the care of the cleaners I am considering.
Some, but definitely not all cleaners, pay claims without hesitation, even if the cost for the customer to replace the item is 100s of times the price that was charged for cleaning it. Buyer beware, it’s a good idea to check the reviews of any dry cleaner you are considering.
Discount or Premium. Which is the best fit for you?
When you arrived at this article, you may have been unsure about the differences between low-priced and higher-priced dry cleaning, and were struggling to make a decision that best fits your clothing care needs and your budget. In this article, you learned about the key differences between these two options, including the cleaning process, customer service, and long-term value.
Now you have a clear understanding of the trade-offs you’ll be making when choosing between low-priced discount dry cleaning and laundry services and higher-priced premium dry cleaning and laundry services. With this knowledge, you are well-equipped to make an informed decision that aligns with your needs and values.
If you have any additional questions or concerns about your dry cleaning options, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Snedicor’s Cleaners. As experts in the industry, we are here to help you find the best dry cleaning solution for your specific needs. Whether you choose low-priced or high-priced dry cleaning, we’ll be here to support you every step of the way.