By Mike Astorino, Owner of Fabricare Cleaners
Would it surprise you to know that your dry cleaner knows how many times each piece of clothing you have has been worn? Its first and last cleaning? Would it surprise you if I told you that your orders are assembled, bagged and sorted without humans and that a picture is taken and time stamped before it goes back to you? Don’t worry. Once it leaves our hands, we are not tracking you!
From the outside, it would appear that dry cleaning is not a very tech savvy business but what happens behind the scenes, invisible to the customer, is not much different than many other industries.
When I entered the dry cleaning business 29 years ago, like most cleaners, Fabricare did not have a computer system. Once we computerized, we started to collect data and were able to run our business based more on numbers than our gut.
Data allowed us to connect with our customers. Direct mail soon changed to email and now, many of our customers text us. The iPhone introduced the world to apps and we developed our own “Fab App” as even an easier way for our customers to connect to us. Since the pandemic, our app usage skyrocketed and is now a major way customers request pick ups and communicate with us.
One of the more significant technologies for the cleaning industry is the use of barcodes on clothing. A tiny label placed where you can’t see it on a garment provides a tremendous amount of data and allows us to track the piece from the minute it gets picked up from the customer to the minute it gets dropped off at the customers house which is then time stamped by location. As well as telling us the first and last visit, the bar code allows us to track the brand, the color and of course, the owner. With our latest equipment purchase (referenced in the opening of this), the bar code allows for the garment to get assembled, bagged, and distributed to its proper location without touching a person thus eliminating labor while also eliminating errors.
Like many businesses, Covid has shown that some of our work can be done remotely. Our point of sale system can be logged on from anywhere and customer service, accounting, business analytics and many other aspects of the business can be done outside our retail and production facilities. While writing this, we have a fabricare staffer working in Florida and Istanbul as well as New York and Connecticut.
I’m often surprised when I make a purchase from a business and they don’t even know who I am. Businesses that don’t use technology are missing out on not only servicing their customers but improving their business as a whole.