Data at your fingertips: Technology trends in the laundry and drycleaning industry

Ironing out the creases is the easy bit for textile care professionals, it’s the numbers and the ‘paperwork’ that keep the business running effectively and efficiently that can need smoothing out.

Owners and managers of operations from large scale commercial laundries to drycleaners and receiving shops, need the easy access pointers and solutions provided by the best management systems and data solutions so they can see just how the business is going. In this article our specialists guide you through the best ‘at your fingertips’ systems providing the information businesses need for day-to-day operational analysis, trends and future decision-making.

Whether it’s increased output, labour issues, pricing or other factors, this is where the right data can be like having a round-the-clock expert at your side.

Jean Anderson reports

Drystream

Question: “What’s the most valuable asset in your business?” It could be you, your presser, your brand or even your website. How about your data?

DryStream EPoS systems are designed to help their owners manage their businesses, maximise revenue, reduce costs and enhance customer service. DryStream stores information collected with each order and provides it back to the user in the most meaningful possible ways.

The company’s Jon Beach said: “With DryStream you’ll accumulate a wealth of data that tells you much about your business. What’s going on and where things are headed. Allowing you to make the correct management decisions for optimal results. “Every transaction forms a mesh that becomes the fabric of the business allowing you to follow each thread to understand how separate aspects of the business are operating: production, management, sales and marketing.” Here’s a small example of how DryStream addresses these three areas.

How much do you depend on production information? Customer is king so service is paramount. A single incident can jeopardise a relationship and future business.

“So even the smallest operator can benefit from production controls that say what’s needed and when, ensuring every job is processed correctly at a time that meets delivery commitments. DryStream provides reports to say what work needs to be done, when its due and if its late,” said Beach.

From time to time resources become scarce or over utilised. Workflow peaks and troughs, often at the most unexpected times. Knowing the demand on those resources allows for management and planning of work in order to meet customer expectations. Or to increase resources in labour or perhaps subcontractors if that’s required. That converts directly to customer satisfaction and loyalty.

“So within DryStream we provide overviews and snapshots showing the flow of work into the business, loads on returns to customers and the state of uncollected work. “And, with data being so easily accessible (by authorised personnel), DryStream allows the extraction of data in any required form. There’s no limit to the options available to satisfy any management requirement or particular key performance indicators (KPIs).” He continues: “But where DryStream data comes into its own is for marketing purposes. “Every business strives to maximise revenue, bring in new customers and maintain loyalty. Doing that requires an analysis of the information stored in your EPoS system. DryStream will report where business is coming from with the ability to analyse customer activity in dozens of ways. Which services are providing the most revenue. Which need promoting.” And the operation of in-built loyalty schemes enables a DryStream owner to implement activities derived from that information.

“DryStream adopts a policy of continuing product development to offer the best EPoS systems for drycleaners and launderers. From spring 2021, we’re rolling out new exciting software and complimentary products and services that will help drycleaners even more. ‘APP’arently this is very exciting stuff so watch out for more details coming soon,” said Beach. “The last year has taught us that drycleaners can no longer rely solely on the presence and position of their shops on the high street. We can’t depend on running a business on gut-feel, or notes and numbers scribbled on scraps of paper.

“Data is key. Ticket books, old-fashioned tills and simple EPoS systems won’t provide the information and support needed to survive in the years to come. A good EPoS system, like DryStream, is an essential tool to manage daily operations and guarantee future growth.

DryStream in operation at Mastercare Dry Cleaning and Laundry Services in High Street, Potters Bar

Happy DryStream customers Bobby and Raj Vadhia of Five Star Dry Cleaners in New Town Shopping Centre, Birmingham

American Dry Cleaners’ app enables them to arrange pickup requests, look up prices and order status

Home and Dry’s customer app enables them to arrange pickup requests, look up prices and order status

SPOT Business Systems

“It is no longer just about collection, cleaning, pressing, packing and delivery,” says Tabish Aiman, managing director of SPOT.

“It is about the brand values of the garment care professional and how they engage with their customers on a local level. This must be done in a high quality, professional and safe method.

“Though we are not out of the pandemic yet, and I fear those who are not adequately prepared will fail, the valuable digital tools SPOT provide give client partners a fighting chance to thrive in a post-Covid era. Trust and reputation management are key criteria.

“Garment care has been seen by the general public as distressed purchase. My stuff is dirty, I need to get it cleaned. I will go to whoever is cheapest or the most convenient.”

Aiman continues: “Our digital products change this mindset to one of ‘I need to look professional in this very competitive job market, my garment care professional is invaluable in getting me to look right. I can get my stuff collected/ delivered in a socially distanced way that is more convenient than ever before’. “The trends to visit local high streets was on the wane prior to the pandemic. The pandemic accelerated this.” People clean what they can see, Aiman advises. “Making the offering extend past garment care to household items, such as duvets and curtains, increases profitability and turnover. Direct email is the most cost-effective way to do this.”

Technology enables the entrepreneurial spirit of our client base, he said. “No one has dedicated more money research and talent, to getting the industry to embrace technology. The results are apparent for those using SPOT, their customers and the industry leading position our clients hold. SPOT’s new products bring our industry into the 21st century. “The divide between a small local cleaner and a national/ multinational retailer disappears. We have addressed the disruption that independent apps have created, reducing margins by adding another link in the chain, while at the same time matching the convenience of app based technology.”

Drivers no longer need to be contacted by mobile or SMS from their office to arrange additional collections during the day. They can concentrate on getting to their next stop on the route. Social distancing deliveries are enabled by the driver taking a picture of the location of delivery and sending it directly to the customer, all in real time.

Aiman said: “Brand loyalty, addressing true customer needs, and targeted exposure are only a few of the benefits of a structured email marketing campaign. Customers receive emails relevant to their personal circumstances. If they don’t know about a shirt service and only bring suits to a drycleaner, they directly benefit. On their birthday they get a custom-tailored coupon to celebrate.

“When a customer moves into an unfamiliar area, they benefit from receiving emails highlighting the local cleaners’ talents. This is marketing at the highest professional level but applied in a very localised way.” He concludes: “Garment care professionals can concentrate on what they are best at, namely, cleaning and pressing, leaving the repetitive thinking processes to SPOT. This is where their prof itability and business satisfaction come from. Customers have a deeper understanding of what is available, how modern and professional the garment care’s collection and delivery service has adapted to Covid and how they get better service as a result.”

SoCom informationssystemme GmbH

“ It makes procedures comprehensible, simplifies processes and helps the company to organise the workflow – we are talking about ERP (enterprise resource planning) software,” says SoCom’s sales director, Michael Wieser.

“If innovative app solutions are added, the package is complete. Data available in real time, from anywhere and at any time thanks to the digital companions: then we are talking about end-to-end digitisation.” It is also becoming increasingly important for medium-sized and smaller companies in the textile care industry to stay up to date and not to let themselves get left behind, says Wieser. “The introduction of an ERP software can help. And especially for industry-specific tasks, such as those encountered on a daily basis in the textile care industry, software tailored precisely to the needs of a modern textile service provider is the tool of choice.” This is exactly what the industry specialist SoCom has been developing for more than 25 years now, and accompanies its customers on the way to a modern and well-organised laundry.

Nowadays, processes must run optimally, be perfectly coordinated and deviations must be identified quickly. To achieve this, processes and data must be transparent.

“In the future, modern and futureproof production and logistics concepts will require a large amount of information, about the laundry item itself, the current product status, product quality and process progress. In consequence this means transparency in the entire operation. This is exactly what our software helps our customers to achieve,” says Wieser. “TIKOS, as a complete solution for laundry service providers, covers the entire production process of a laundry. As an industry specialist, we know the special challenges from working with our customers and can provide fast and competent help in the event of new requirements.” The process design begins with the customer. Thanks to innovative app solutions such as the SoCom app texScan, mobile inventory can be carried out within seconds via smartphone directly at the customer’s premises. With this app, the customer can scan his inventory or other movements himself.

With the app solution texOrder, orders or inventories can be made directly at the wards of hospitals, nursing homes or hotels by the customer himself. The application requires no special training. Information is transmitted directly and is also available offline. Wieser adds: “The texRoute app is available exactly tailored to the logistics needs of a laundry. With this app, mobile route management as well as container management can be organised comprehensively and profitably. “Forgotten or incorrectly loaded containers, which can ruin the entire profit of a tour, no longer occur. The topic of container shrinkage is also a thing of the past because, as with parcel delivery, the customer’s signature can be obtained for the container delivery for each customer.”

Live tracking is possible via a web portal – the current delivery status, set-up times, travel times and dwell times at the customer’s premises can be viewed at the touch of a button. And further more: the customer is informed via email even before the driver arrives. This means that the customer can prepare everything right away – the right containers with the right laundry items to the right pick-up location, thus reducing loading times. Because time saves money.

The texEasyPick app offers support in the field of picking. Orders can be picked easily and completely paperless, the stock is adjusted automatically. Production managers can see the live status of all open pickings at any time and change the prioritisation of individual pickings immediately. Due to the direct interaction of the individual app solutions, the additional container and parking space information stored in texEasyPick can be transmitted to the driver and displayed via texRoute app. While all the above mentioned apps are designed for special applications, the texUniScan app covers different fields of application. All barcodes or QR-Codes are captured by a smartphone or tablet camera or external scanner and transmitted directly to the TIKOS database.

“What the app captures and reports back in a processed form is decided by our customers – according to the operational requirements,” explains Wieser. Therefore the range of application of the texUniScan app is enormously comprehensive and absolutely flexible. Expensive PC-workstations are no longer necessary and smaller processes especially can be controlled directly in the production by the customer himself thanks to digital companions.

SoCom’s texRoute app is available exactly tailored to the logistics needs of a laundry

The Axcess Bronze drycleaning EPoS system has been recently installed at the eco-friendly cleaning service Zen At Home in Harringay

Axcess recently installed the Axcess Gold drycleaning EPoS system at Droplet’s new store in Balham

Axcess IT

Axcess IT has been developing and deploying customised solutions for drycleaners and laundries since 2001, says Zakariya Ahmed, business development manager, who adds that his firm has a well documented history when it comes to developing customised systems that serve the sector.

In the last 20 years, the Axcess IT team has seen a change in how decisions are being made, whether it’s to do with increasing prices at a drycleaner or how the production of a commercial laundry should be run. From experience, he explains that Axcess IT understand that there is a need for data to be at the fingertips of owners and managers, which is why “we are constantly involved in research and development with the aim of making the collation of data more accessible”. The company, he says, has also invested in new technologies such as RFID, mobile applications and web applications to allow for better data-driven decisions. In terms of what the company offers commercial laundries, one solution is the production management system which aims to take control of the operation from the moment the linen is picked up at the clients premises all the way through to packing.

“The system,” Ahmed says, “automates an entire factory, reducing workload for management and optimising efficiency of the laundry significantly.” It’s his view that “our systems are customised specifically to each laundry, giving the customer, more flexibility, and ensuring they have the perfect system fit for their plant.” But as commercial laundries grow into full-blown industrial laundries, so do the demands and necessity for automation, optimisation, transparency in data and an effective inventory control system. Here Ahmed points to the Axcess Laundry Management System which, for example, has been integrated with RFID technology at the Empire Laundry based in North London. As Ahmed explains, this has allowed the laundry to manage large volumes of textiles efficiently while knowing at any given moment exactly how many pieces are in circulation, whether those garments are at the customers’ site or at the laundry, where in the laundry cycle the piece is, how many pieces are being processed by the factory and how long the linen is lasting. He says: “All these elements of compiled data enable greater automation and allows management to measure profitability rates. It also allows them to identify areas in which improvements need to be made.”

Information gleaned from Axcess systems can help firms with data on trends. Specifically, the Axcess IT drycleaning EPoS system – says Ahmed – “gathers up all types of in-store data and analytics to allow owners and managers to understand what is going on so that they can make better data-driven decisions”.

The reports provided on Axcess’s EPoS systems allow managers to track how their business is performing and analyse customer shopping behaviours, such as at what times are busiest or quietest within the stores, which was proven to be vital for owners during the Covid pandemic. The benefit is noted by Ahmed: “This kind of data will aid in implementing staffing decisions – optimising employee rotas based on customer activity. Important decisions in marketing, such as when to release a campaign, what offers to give and which customers to target, are the fundamental notions of data which the Axcess IT drycleaning EPoS systems provide to owners.” It’s his belief that this allows managers to make more effective and tailored decisions for their business.

Ahmed describes the relationship Axcess IT keeps with the drycleaners and laundries they serve, he said: “We treat each of our clients’ businesses like our own and we provide customised system features and customised reports for individual clients, allowing drycleaners and laundries who use the Axcess IT system to have a system that suits their business and not just be given an off the shelf product.”

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