Sunday, March 30, 2008

A very good observation by readers

Just a reminder that all material is copyright of CCCC International, Egham, England.

Posting number 4:

We quote below an observation by a group who are well informed on dry cleaning:

1) 'While you were running the business your system worked for you because you constantly brow-beat the customer with convincing sales and confidence that the work was and looked cleaner. Take you away, and the system will have gone bust because the manager (your replacement) will not have concentrated on this important factor.'

2) Our e -mail address removed now. Thanks to all who contributed so valuably. While on e - mails, some recipients are no longer at addresses we had for them such as Ms Baine of The British Design Council that may have found blog contents of value. Others have auto - spammers, and had to be removed to accommodate other important links, potential investors and partners.

3) To those with in depth knowledge of dry cleaning, this is an exponentially huge observation that ordinary observations cannot reach. First, Let us expand the observation to consumers (end users), fashion and tailoring who read this blog. We can then argue that 'brow beating' had no room when we were running our business:

  • a) The observer may genuinely believe that good quality dry cleaning is indeed brow beating the customer
  • b) Salesmanship and staff with a generous gift of self confidence also reflect good quality dry cleaning
  • c) Practically, we are not offering a service different to whats out there already. We will offer more of the same
  • d) Our past success was solely dependent to my being ever present at the counter to come up aces all the hours in all the days. So, how can we possibly help 5,000 UK cleaners by making them profitable, if our technology can only be sold through me alone? How many replicas of myself can I produce to trial run each shop while managers/staff undergo training by me?

4) We will shock every one by saying yes to items 3a) and 3b), and even agree with interpretations in 3c) and 3d). In which case we have no new innovations to sell, and have nothing new to offer Which? and the industry either, in terms of giving them helpful tips. Moreover, why should any of you invest in us or become partners to do more of the same that every body is fed up with to their eye balls?

5) But what if our quality parameters were so radically different that we will turn an established industry upside down, and do much more besides? Then we will have had something to really boast about. We will also have amazed the world's academics and business gurus that we have solved a riddle half a century old.

6) Thanks to Which?, as fibre of gods), UN General Assembly (natural fibres), and FAO (natural fibres) for enabling us to really go to town on this one, and share the delights of our discoveries with you. In fact, it would not only be unfair, but selfish of us on a wholesale scale to keep our cards close to our chest, and deprive you from discoveries that fascinated us for years on end. Blogs are super note pads where one can say as much as one likes, and goodness me, here we go. You don't have to read it unless you are as passionate as we are about the subject matter:

Note: In the cash rich time poor world, natural fibres such as wool, silk, and linen have no place unless reliable dry cleaning after care proves capable of meeting strict consumer demands. So far it hasn't, and that is why a chain of businesses and industries face difficulties in keeping their businesses sustainable.

7) So, is our definition of quality any different than what you are accustomed to? The reality is far worse. As we said in an earlier posting, quality does not exist in dry cleaning! More to the point, customer driven or even derived quality parameters do not exist in dry cleaning at all any where in the world. Then, obviously, we will become a global business if we found quality parameters that fully met customer expectations and demands everywhere. We have, and hence we are global!

8) Back in the late 80s when we sat out to find out what customer demands and expectations were, we were shocked to learn that none of them knew what they were. We conducted a very cost effective consumer survey over our shop counter and asked 100s may be 1000s of customers what they wanted from us to make them happy and stop them from complaining about our services?

9) While getting no clear answers, we noticed one wish list in a single sentence that stood out and gave us a thread to get started: "I wish you could make my clothes look like new"! That was it! To skip weeks of thinking and analysing we realised that we had a tough one on our hands. Quality parameters in some other service sector businesses (we didn't know it would be called business modeling a decade later), would be tangible and measurable quantities. Dry cleaning is not one of these services. Take car servicing as an example. If filling up with the correct amounts of lubricants (engine, gearbox, brakes), service intervals, and changing filters made up some of the quality parameters, then these are measurable precisely by units of volume, length (mileage)/time, and area (surface, of filters), respectively. In other words the SI units of measurements or other equivalent yard sticks .

10) We should have mentioned that we broke down the "... look like new" customer demand to its constituent parts, using the 5 human senses. You cannot eat or hear dry cleaning, but you can certainly see it, smell, and feel it. None of these is easily measurable by conventional means. there are no simple units available. The easiest one is the smell that is measured by units of Threshold Odour Numbers! As you know, you have "noses" in the wine industry and they are expensive. There are not enough "noses" around to go nosing around dry cleaning shops, that's for sure.

11) Therefore, we assumed (still unsure of customer reaction) that if we examined the visual sate of appeal, the smell, and the feel and touch using our own modest senses along with my unimpressive nose, we will have some results for trials by our customers. My nose is a bit Mongolian, but did the job. Those interested in me may deduct that my designer stubbles are to make up for the nasal deficit. One tries his best you know, especially if one is trying desperately to fit in. I have not been successful so far, but hey, I've tried. Any way, without giving precious IP away, we can skip steps and tell you that we saw, felt and smelt room for improvements and sat out to achieve them.

12) So, after satisfying the 3 human senses, we assumed we had the 3 main stays of customer expectations and demands sorted. We were right and received fewer complaints. We further re engineered Perc Technology and made it to conform with our new (and expensive) quality parameters. We kept on working while trading, and today we have a list of 9 quality parameters for meeting customer expectations and demands. We sold the service for 1,000 of hours, with little or no complaints. The real exciting part is that our quality parameters also met demands and expectations of fashion designers, retailers, and tailors alike. Our priceless bonus to them is our compatibility with dry cleaning care labels they affix to garments for the consumer and dry cleaner's peace of mind!!!

13) We became so good that we were appointed Jaeger's dry cleaning trouble shooters and saved 1000s of pounds in solving their customer complaint cases. Karen Gray's department (early to mid 90s) was inundated with customer returns with reports from dry cleaners declaring the label as rubbish, and "token labelled". We received orders by courier/post, re cleaned and applied our exciting quality parameters. Our record of success was 100% over a 3 year period, with offending dry cleaners footing our bill, upon the customers' producing their reprocessed work to them by us.

14) With the hard work done, how are we going to devise a scheme that is fool proof and salesmanship and self confidence will play no role? (Answers in items 17 and 18 below). There is no role for 'brow beating' and salemanship to come in to play. When you machine wash your own clothes at home, you don't stand in front of a full length mirror, puffing your chest and feel on top of the world, do you? And why should you? You only washed clothes. You didn't design and make a rocket out of a bottle of washing up liquid that goes to the moon and back before you change young Chamalulu's nappy (brilliant Zambian name for a boy).

15) Neither did the dry cleaner do any thing amazing. He only cleaned clothes too. Why should he be praised so much? Not his fault, because he'd been given tools of trade and service philosophies unfit for purpose (earlier postings). In the absence of quality parameters, we build reputations of being so good, its literally illogical and deductably unbelievable. You know, when you recommend your dry cleaner to others, do you really make sense to yourself about his ability to clean your clothes? An American is reported it to have said his Chinese American dry cleaner is so good his kids pull straight As in high school! That kind of skill has not come here yet, because Afghan dry cleaners kids get all As too but their dad's dry cleaning is as crap as any one elses. A sort of a logic there, I am not sure.

16) Seriously, in modelling dry cleaning on potable water supply, we studied how much or how little impurities were left in laundered clothes. We matched that quality in Perc dry cleaning, and made dry cleaning to resemble laundry a lot closer than ever before. Even stains stopped being a nuisance.. Perhaps now you can imagine why the industry found our claims absurd and unbelievable. But what we do, works. One day, we will write the theory behind it, but right now, we've got the world to give a wider choice of what to wear, and farmers to grow and sell more wool.

17) The quality of tap water is known at least to water engineers. You wash your clothes in it across the world. National, European and International (WHO) quality standards are very similar across the board. It is good enough for you to produce acceptable laundry results in your own washing machines. We did things to dry cleaning that our cleaning with Perc resembled laundry results to some extent. Therefore our answer to our valued friends is that we will widely publish our quality list of 9 items to consumers so that they know in advance of what to expect and buy.

18) If they find our quality parameters acceptable before they try us, and find results matching to what we publicised, then they will have no complaints at times of collection from our shops or receiving work from franchisee drivers in the middle of the night and in the comfort of their homes. If our quality parameters are substandard, they will look for something better. Since better will not exist for years to come, they will come back. We won't brow beat consumers to meet their demands, just the same as they don't brow beat themselves when they machine wash their own clothes. As simple as that, and it is easy when you know how to.

19) We hope to have further convinced you to invest in us or become partners. You will be investing in a truly global business. Just imagine the IP potential alone, in our future role in having a decision making hand in sorting out the problems associated with care labels. Our expertise Will be found in high demand across the globe.

20) A note for the popular, electronic, and fashion media: If what you've read here does make sense, then imagine the bulk of new material you could fill your column - inches with in future. We have the knowledge, you have means to dispense it. We will make a good team.


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