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Dry cleaner bar codes on fine garments: Hop on the roller coaster
By: Stu Bloom
So you’ve been told that your cleaner is a true quality cleaner.
But have you ever noticed that their definition of true quality cleaning has very little to do with the quality of the product they produce?
And that their definition revolves mostly around their service and conveniences? Such as their friendly service representatives, same day service, their 3 day pickup and delivery service, their 24/7 bag drop off system, their 24/7 order retrieval system, their drive though service, etc..
No doubt they also touted the bar coded labels they heat seal or glue onto all your garments and household textiles as an indicator of true quality cleaning.
The real question here is not whether they heat seal or glue bar coded labels onto your fine garments and household textiles.
You know they do.
You’ve seen those bar coded labels glued onto the care labels, brand labels, waistbands, linings, side seams, and inside hems of your fine garments.
Why cleaners bar code your garments and household textiles
The real question to be answered is why cleaners heat seal or glue bar codes onto your fine garments.
The answer to that question will give you great insight into the cleaner’s overall philosophy to garment care.
One word of caution: when evaluating that answer make sure to distinguish between the disclosed motivation (the spin) and the hidden motivation (the reality).
Here’s our take on bar codes: a true quality cleaner would never heat seal or glue bar coded labels anywhere on your fine garments and household textiles.
- Because they’re your garments and household textiles. They don’t belong to us. You entrusted them to us for restoration to as close to like new condition as possible. Not to have bar coded labels glued onto them without your permission.
- Because bar coded labels are typically used by high volume/low price, highly automated cleaners where the operational focus is on getting your garments into a machine, onto a press and into a bag. ASAP. At lowest possible cost. They’re in by 9:00 and out by 5:00; or picked up on day 1 and delivered on day 3.
- Because a true quality cleaner moves and assembles your fine garments and household textiles by hand. Not by automated machine.
To understand exactly what we mean, visualize, for a moment, a Fedex or UPS sorting facility with a web of conveyor belts and bar code scanners strategically mounted above those conveyor belts. Further, visualize letters and boxes of all shapes and sizes, all imprinted with a bar code, shuttling along a conveyor belt from point to point.
Now, instead of letters and boxes, visualize your fine garments and household textiles, suspended on hangers, being roller-coasted around a dry cleaning plant from point to point on an automated moving and assembly system.
Bar coded labels are the foundation of such an automated system.
It’s a concept borrowed directly from the uniform rental industry.
Here’s some background …
We’re all familiar with the uniform rental industry. We see their products on every USPS, FedEx and UPS driver. To ensure that those uniforms are “cleaned, steamed/pressed, assembled and delivered” at the lowest possible cost, the cleaner must, among other things, bar code all garments and utilize a highly automated moving and assembly system to shuttle their garments from point to point.
Along comes the value cleaners, the ordinary cleaners and even some wannabe cleaners. They figured that if the system works for the uniform rental industry, it’ll work for them too.
But does it work for you?
Can you picture your fine garments and household textiles being shuttled around a dry cleaning plant from cleaning to steaming/pressing to assembly to bagging?
Can you imagine your easily wrinkled, delicate and/or fragile garments such as your silk, linen and cotton blouses and shirts being crushed between heavier coats, sport coats, blazers, trousers, slacks and sweaters?
All in the name of maximizing efficiency and minimizing costs.
So, next time you see bar coded labels glued onto your fine garments and household textiles consider this: Do you want your fine garments and household textiles to be treated like uniform rental garments?
Don’t think so.
Careful handling of your fine garments and household textiles through the entire garment care process is just one sign of true quality cleaning.
Bar code labels glued onto your fine garments and household textiles points to ordinary, “bang and hang” cleaning.
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