The majority of today's window treatments cannot be cleaned with the traditional in-plant method. Where does that leave the people who create and sell these window coverings? Well, you can keep selling them with no problem, but you certainly don't have a decent answer for your customers when the inevitable question comes up, "How do I clean these?"
Your only choice has been to give one of two insufficient answers. If the window coverings are removable, such as pleated draperies, you tell the customer to take them to the cleaners (and hope they don't come back shrunken or damaged). If they are any other type of window covering, you tell the customer to vacuum them. Customers who have just spent a fortune on beautiful new window treatments are not pleased with these answers-and can easily blame you for the lack of options.
Wouldn't you like to have a solution for this cleaning problem and, better yet, be able to provide it? Fortunately, the solution does exist: dry cleaning on location.
Dry cleaning on location means you can clean any type of fabric window covering in any configuration, right where it hangs. There is no need for your customer to remove draperies and live in a fish bowl for several days or to settle for vacuuming. You can offer cleaning for window treatments like balloons, swags, jabots, valances, cornices, shades, sheers, blackout shades, fabric verticals and even sun-damaged or fragile materials.
Within a few hours the entire cleaning job is finished and there is no shrinkage or damage. Home owners love the fact that the draperies never leave the rod, and large institutions such as hotels, theaters and offices save thousands of dollars in the cost of labor, loaner treatments and ruined draperies.
Dry cleaning on location is gentle and efficient. Window coverings are thoroughly cleaned with a waterless solvent that stays in contact with the material only long enough to clean it. With this method you can guarantee against shrinkage, damage and loss of sizing, resins or flame retardants so customers do not have to sign any waivers.
The equipment used for this method is capable of wet or dry cleaning practically any fabric item including upholstery, lamp shades, pool tables, car interiors, boat and airplane interiors, floor mats, Oriental rugs, box springs, mattresses and much more.
Why is portable, on-location dry cleaning relatively unheard of when it is the only effective means for cleaning most of today's window treatments? Because it still is considered a new technique. The fact is, the process of dry cleaning on location has been around for quite a while and has become so easy and safe that, with the proper set up, anyone can obtain professional results.
What does this mean to you? If means an untapped market that is wide open for window coverings professionals, interior designers and other professionals to offer this service as an add-on to their existing businesses-a service customers have been asking for, but up until now, have not been able to find.
The equipment and solutions for on-location dry cleaning can be purchased or leased relatively inexpensively and the potential customer base is huge-made up of every person who has ever purchased or ever will purchase window coverings.
Customers need this service and don't want to search for it. They would be thrilled to have their window coverings cleaned by the same people who provided them. As the supplier of these custom treatments you will have an added advantage because your credibility already has been established, and most customers would prefer working with a known professional.
This is a sleeper market that is easy to enter because competition hardly exists and the service is always needed. The average profit range from on-location dry cleaning is $70 to $100 per hour, minimum-a very impressive addition to existing business profits.
On-location dry cleaning equipment already is being used successfully to clean window coverings and upholstery in many major hotels including Hilton, Hyatt, Bally's, Stouffer Resorts, Holiday Inn, ITT Sheraton, Trump Taj Mahal, Westin and Lawrence Welk Resort.
A small investment and a little training is necessary, but with that a window coverings professional also can become the source for window treatment cleaning. Anyone can learn the raw basics of dry cleaning draperies where they hang in a short time-it actually is safer and easier than cleaning upholstery or carpets. Many expert training videotapes are available as well as complete packages that include training, equipment and solutions.
The need to diversify in business to avoid putting all your eggs in one basket should be enough incentive to make most window covering professionals consider this lucrative add-on. Why not offer the cleaning alternative your customers already are looking for and profit by it?
Ben Weller is president of On-Site Drapery Cleaning and More, Hayden Lake, ID. He has several years of experience in the drapery cleaning industry.