Dry cleaning: should I make my customers pay at time of drop off?
Thoughts and feedback from past experience
6 June, 2018 by
Dry cleaning: should I make my customers pay at time of drop off?
SARL INFORUM, Elsa Kopp

We will talk here about the sinews of war: the cash drawer…

The market situation is more or less the following:

- Dry cleaners in shopping centres and national chains require nearly systematically to pay at time of drop off.

- Independent “neighbourhood” dry cleaners allow to pay wholly or partly at time of pickup. Each person has often a clear opinion on the subject. 

We will share our expertise as a supplier of POS cash register solution well-known in the profession.

Personally, I managed my first store in 1979. It was a neighbourhood store with an image of high-quality service. At this time and for this positioning, it was a no-brainer. Customers paid at time of pickup, once the work had been done, and sometimes even later for some good customers…

Everything seemed perfect, but not that much finally!


Over time, volumes of non-picked up garments increased alarmingly and caused real storage and treasury difficulties

The advent of IT was a major trigger event to choose to change our operating mode. IT allowed us to “know” from day to day the true value of work done but not paid.

Besides, the arrival on the market of the low cost fashion phenomenon didn’t make things better. Why should customers pick up clothes they didn’t pay for already, when they can easily find a new equivalent at the price of the cleaning?

A management decision had to be taken. We needed to answer these questions:

- How would our neighbourhood customers react, as they were always used to pay at time of pickup?
- How not to lose them?
Was this operating mode an important feature? Even a competitive advantage to allow us to stand out from all big dry cleaners of shopping centres and national chains?

Like most dry cleaners, I had some nerve-racking nights before taking the plunge…
And finally, everything went well! Putting aside several reluctant customers who ended by accepting the new operating mode and (few) others who never came back.

Little tip between us!

You may explain this change of operating mode by blaming the new software you have just installed! ;)
From the start, IT has always been a convenient scapegoat for everything that doesn’t work like before… For once, this might be helpful!

"My tip: make your customers pay at time of drop off"

As you probably have already understood, my advice is to make your customers pay at time of drop off. Not to do like everyone else, but to improve the following points:

Your treasury
- The inventory turnover on hanging rails, which allows to increase your storage capacity without expanding your storage area
- Your collected turnover: no more work done not paid.

Other advice: no matter which solution you choose (payment at time of drop off or pickup), be firm: it is all or nothing!

Key factors of success: rigor and coherence to avoid conflicts between you customers and your staff.

Important reflection: payment at time of drop off raises also several questions about price setting when taking the order. This must imply simplifying your prices.

Regarding prices, I invite you to read (or read again) our article about price setting: are my items and services well defined?

We think that payment at time of drop off goes hand in hand with prices resetting and simplification. You should keep in mind the following rules:

- The less possible prices there are for a same item:

> the higher the final average price will be
> the shorter the order taking time will be

- The more possible prices there are for a same item:

> the lower the final average price will be
> the longer the order taking time will be
> the longer the waste of time due to conflicts and discussions with customers will be

What matters at the end is the global point of sale profitability, not the profitability by item sold. And finally, you should always keep in mind that prices don’t depend on the work done at all, but on the value of the item dropped off.


Dry cleaning: should I make my customers pay at time of drop off?
SARL INFORUM, Elsa Kopp
6 June, 2018
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