True Quality CleaningStraight talk about caring for fine garments & household textiles from an expert who calls it like it is. In plain English.

RAVE FabriCARE welcomes Procter & Gamble to the drycleaning marketplace

Tide drycleanersProcter & Gamble (P&G), the folks who brought you "at home drycleaning" (Dryel) are now rolling out "away from home drycleaning" (Tide Dry Cleaners).

Tide Dry Cleaners will feature the orange and blue Tide logo and use Tide products wherever possible. New franchisees also get access to computer systems, training and other support.

And the investment required?

$54,000 for the initial franchise fee, $650,000 to $900,000 for a stand-alone building, 7% of sales as a royalty fee and 5% of sales for mandated advertising. That's, of course, before equipment and start-up costs.

So what does this all mean for the quality of their product?

Simply this: if their prices even remotely reflect the highly competitive drycleaning market, each location would have to push an incredible number of pieces through their system just to cover these "fixed" costs. And it's axiomatic that high piece volume translates into poor product quality. And that poor product quality translates into ...

P&G's hope, of course, is that, unlike Dryel, this concept might actually work.

I can just imagine the thinking behind the concept ...

P&G knows drycleaning; after all, consumers use their Dryel at home drycleaning product. P&G knows the franchise/service industry; after all, consumers use their Mr. Clean car washes. Consumers trust Tide detergents; consumers will trust Tide Dry Cleaners. Tide detergents are used by consumers; Tide detergents can be used by a drycleaner. Tide detergents are produced on a production line; ordinary cleaners operate a garment cleaning and pressing production line. Tide relies extensively on coupons; drycleaners love to market their services with coupons.

Given the confidence engendered by this thinking, here's what I don't understand: if P&G truly believed in the drycleaning industry (a $9 billion per year industry), why go the franchising route? Why not utilize their vast financial resources and technical skills to develop the first national drycleaning brand and reap all the resultant profits for themselves?

Clearly, P&G believes that they're going to revolutionize the industry, that their business model is very different, and that they can quickly achieve economies of scale with multiple, cookie-cutter stores in a specific geographic area. In other words, P&G believes that they know better than everyone else who preceded them into the drycleaning market.

P&G, say hello to US Dry Cleaning Corp., National Dry Cleaners, Purple Tie (the smart guys from autoweb.com) and Zoots (the even smarter guys from Staples). Much to their chagrin these folks found out that the simple business of drycleaning is actually quite complex.

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