We provide extraordinary care for fine
garments & household textiles
Back in June 2010, I commented on the entry into the dry
cleaning market of a new franchise concept pioneered by Procter
& Gamble called Tide Dry Cleaners.
that post, I speculated on the flawed
strategic thinking behind the concept, questioned why P&G would
choose the franchising route instead of the direct ownership route,
and listed some of the recent, well-funded operators who similarly
believed that the dry cleaning industry was ripe for consolidation
- and then failed in a spectacular flameout.
According to a recent
article in the Los Angeles Times, the owners of
Panda Express are betting that they can apply, to the dry cleaning
industry, the same standardized operating principles they applied
to Chinese fast food.
And what are these principles?
The ability to open multiple, cookie cutter locations and to
deliver - in a quick fashion and at moderate cost - sugary, greasy,
warmed up Chinese fast food, spooned out of large, cafeteria-style
In the Los Angeles Times article, there are two quotes that I
found quite fascinating....
First, the CEO of Panda Express is quoted as saying: "There
isn't any consolidation in this industry. There is no McDonalds of
dry cleaners. We see this as an opportunity."
Second, the CEO of Agile Pursuits (the P&G subsidiary that
franchises Tide Dry Cleaners) is quoted as saying: "The
standardized nationwide system will provide better service for
customers. They've generally been dissatisfied with the poor
physical environment, routine errors with garment care, and
unremoved stains common at many dry cleaners."
Am I the only one who sees the inherent contradiction in the
respective visions of these two "partners"?
Panda Express was built on physical environment, speed, price
and quality of product - in that order. Clearly, the
owners of Panda Express are betting that their potential dry
cleaning clients will similarly focus on physical environment,
speed, price and quality of product - in that order.
I'm not so sure. Anyhow, we'll know pretty soon as Panda Express
plans to open their first Arizona location in Chandler on January
Based on their PR hoopla, client expectations regarding speed,
quality of product will be sky high. But I'm betting
that the quality of the product they produce will probably be quite
And why do I predict that the quality of their product will
probably be quite ordinary? For three reasons....
First, their clearly expressed intent to become the
"McDonalds of dry cleaning".
Second, the Los Angeles Times article indicated that Panda
Express had acquired a small dry cleaner in Colorado in order to
"provide trainers for the new venture."
Third, a job posting on Craig's List for a "dry cleaning
presser" for their Chandler location stated that "we're
looking for production staff, experienced or not. Paid training
begins the week of January 23rd with store opening on
I, for one, couldn't care less if Tide Dry Cleaners opened one
breakthrough-technology facilities right across the street from
Truth is, the more cleaners that open up around us, the more
opportunities we have to showcase the quality of our product
relative to the quality of their product. And this applies to
all cleaners, irrespective of whether they call themselves
a discount cleaner, a middle-of-the-road cleaner or a self-styled
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