RAVE FabriCARE: Position Papers

Our brief discussion of various issues related to
fine garments, household textiles and accessories

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Does your dry cleaner substitute glitz for true quality cleaning?

 

Does your dry cleaner substitute glitz for true quality cleaning?

By: Stu Bloom

Maybe, at some time in the distant past, many ordinary cleaners did a fairly “decent job”.

But as competition from new market entrants and economic pressures on labor cost have increased over the past few years, they’ve increasingly resorted to glitz to deflect their clients’ attention away from the only matter that really counts for the owners of fine garments: the quality of their product.

The shift to image and style

 

Instead of focusing on quality of product, many ordinary cleaners shifted their focus to image and style. Using cues such as color coordinated uniforms, multicolored brochures, logo printed tissue and poly, straight/thin/cheap wood and chrome hangers, granite countertops and recessed lighting, boutique- style fashion posters and picture wrapped delivery vehicles to promote the illusion of true quality cleaning.

So why do ordinary cleaners invest in image and style?

For 2 reasons:

  • Image and style deflects attention away from the quality of their work and fools most of their customers into believing that the quality of their product is somehow “superior” to other ordinary cleaners.
  • By substituting glitz – the illusion of quality – for actual product quality, they’ve been able to significantly reduce production costs. Primarily by substituting aggressive, fast turnaround processes and relatively low skilled machine operators who are paid by the piece for gentle, time consuming processes and well-paid, technically skilled craftspeople.

The image and style formula worked well for a while. Then the recession hit and many of their customers sought out cheaper alternatives.

Much to their chagrin, these customers discovered that, apart from image and style, there wasn’t much difference in the quality of product. And that, over the past few years, they’d been paying relatively high prices for ordinary cleaning.

Clearly, the cubic zirconium strategy wasn’t working any more.

The shift to a 3 tier quality/price business model

 

So some ordinary cleaners adopted a new approach. They introduced a three tier pricing system, typically dubbed their “everyday”, “expert” or “couture” service. Or their diamond, platinum and gold service, their classic, deluxe and signature service, or their basic, classic and artisan service.

The rationale was simple.

We’ll tell our customers that they can continue to receive our “existing quality” at a reduced price. We’ll call this our “everyday” service. We’ll also tell them that we’ve been able to introduce this lower priced service for their “less fancy” garments by eliminating the fancy packaging.

Further, we’ll tell our customers that they can continue to receive our “expert” service for their   “fancy” garments at our current price levels.

Of course, what we won’t tell them is that, apart from the price and the packaging, there’s no real difference in quality between our “everyday” and our “expert” service. And we’ll gain by charging a premium price for what is essentially an “everyday” garment dressed up with fancy packaging.

And, for their “most fancy” garments, we’ll tell our customers that we’re now offering a “new” service – we’ll call this our “couture” service – that’s a cut above our “expert” service – a service where everything is “cleaned by our best cleaner” and “pressed by our best presser.”

Of course, what we won’t tell them is that, apart from the price and the packaging, there’s no real difference in quality between our “everyday” service, our “expert” service and our “couture” service. And we’ll gain by charging a premium price for what is essentially an “everyday” or “expert” garment dressed up with fancier packaging than our “expert” service.

It follows that when you question these cleaners about each of their 3 levels of “product quality” and the detailed processes that produces each of those 3 levels of product quality, they have no choice but to misrepresent what they do and what they don’t do.

What they’re overlooking, of course, is that clients with a significant investment in their wardrobe tend to be quite savvy and aren’t easily fooled. These clients know that glitz and premium packaging has it’s place: as a complement to true quality cleaning, never as a substitute for true quality cleaning.

It’s the equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig.

 

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Filed Under:

General,Position Paper

Author

Stu Bloom

Stu Bloom is Founder and President of RAVE FabriCARE. RAVE FabriCARE, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, cares for fine garments, household textiles and accessories and serves clients throughout the USA and Canada. Stu is the author of various ebooks on these subjects, all of which are available from www.ravefabricare.com/freestuff. He is an evangelist for true quality cleaning and is a contributor to and editor of True Quality Cleaning, RAVE FabriCARE’s blog. You can find Stu on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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