D&WC: What exactly is On-Site and how did you get started in the industry?
Ben Weller: Ten years ago, after selling my company, I was interested in starting a business that was unique, profitable and would provide a service that few others could offer. I discovered that the window coverings industry was producing window treatments that could not be cleaned using traditional in-plant methods and no one was taking up the slack!
I did some investigation and discovered an on-location wet and dry cleaning system that, with a few modifications, could clean any fabric window covering right where it hung in the customer's home or business. Better yet, this system could be guaranteed against shrinkage, damage and loss of sizing or flame retardant. I found my market, the perfect system and voila, On-Site was born.
D&WC: Why should people in the window covering business be interested in this system?
Weller: First, profit! There is more money in maintaining the window treatments they install than in the initial sale itself.
Then, there is the added bonus of providing a cleaning service the customer needs and is asking for instead of telling them to just vacuum their expensive, custom window coverings. The dry cleaning industry has dropped the ball in this department and window coverings professionals might as well profit from it.
Lastly, who do you think these customers will think of first when it comes time to purchase new items, the professional who installs and maintains their window treatments or the one who leaves them with costly non-cleanable window coverings?
D&WC: Who are your customers? What parts of the country do you serve?
Weller: Our customers primarily have been from the window treatment and interior design businesses for all the reasons I've just stated. They recognize a gap in service and are starting to fill it. We have sold the On-Site system to professionals wanting to add profit centers to existing businesses, as well as to individuals wanting to start up a new business.
On-Site has been extremely successful and the word has spread worldwide. We not only have sold to all areas of the United States, but have sent the system to the Philippines, Singapore, Panama, New Zealand, Europe, Australia, Russia, the Caribbean and South America, as well.
D&WC:How has the industry changed since you first began?
Weller: As we predicted, the market has continued to move toward more intricate and unusual window fashions with pinch pleated draperies making up a very small percentage of the whole. Without the On-Site system, there would be virtually no safe way to clean most of these window treatments.
We do not simply sit back and let the system stand as it is, however. We keep abreast of all the latest styles and fabrics so we may continually improve the system to suit the new products being designed. For example, we created a proprietary cleaning head and process for the Hunter Douglas Luminette Privacy Sheers® that surpassed all others in a recent test, successfully cleaning this beautiful window treatment without stretching, shrinking or damage.
D&WC: What are some key factors in your growth and success?
Weller: Amazingly, there still is little or no competition when it comes to providing cleaning service for today's window treatments. What was true 10 years ago when I started the business is true today. People need a way to clean the window coverings the dry cleaning industry can't, and On-Site is the only one providing it.
To prove my point, I often ask two questions of the audience at my seminars at the International Window Coverings Expo: 1) How many of you have ever had a customer ask how to clean the window treatments you've just installed? (Everyone raises his or her hand.) 2) How many of you have answered that question with, "Vacuum them"? (Everyone raises his or her hand again).
With so much need and so few providers, On-Site can't help but keep growing. We never take our success for granted, however. As I mentioned above, we always stay on top of new developments and continue improving both our product and our service. In fact, we have just moved to a new, larger facility where we were able to open the first advanced training center for cleaning window fashions in the United States, the On-Site University. (See D&WC, October 1999.)
D&WC: What type of training do you provide for your customers?
Weller: While the package has always included exclusive training videos and manuals, with On-Site University we now are able to offer in-depth, hands-on training using the equipment on all kinds of window treatment styles and fabrics. Included are special tips, techniques, our new spot removal method and proven marketing strategies.
The weekend seminar is taught by professionals who have experienced firsthand what it is like to use the system successfully out in the field.
D&WC:Is the On-Site University open to anyone?
Weller: The training center was specifically designed for On-Site system users. We intend not only to provide the best cleaning system in the window coverings industry, but also to thoroughly train the professionals using it. In this way, we hope to ensure that any customer asking for the On-Site service, in any part of the world, will receive the most professional cleaning service possible.
We also give new owners a jump-start so that they can hit the ground running and earn big profits right from the start.
D&WC:What do you see in the future for On-Site?
Weller: In the near future, I see a second On-Site University on the eastern side of the United States and others to follow, possibly overseas. I also feel every window covering dealer will eventually own the On-Site system. It is such a natural addition to their businesses and so badly needed by customers that I think it will eventually be a must to own this equipment in order to remain competitive. If your neighboring window fashions professional is offering On-Site service, you certainly want to offer more than just vacuuming!
Other than that, we plan to continue upgrading both our system and our services to suit the industry as it changes and evolves.
On-Site Drapery Cleaning & More
9297 North Government Way
Hayden Lake, ID 83835
Fax: (208) 772-5604