Janice Raycroft reports on the latest systems that have been developed to provide data and intelligence to laundry and dry cleaning businesses of all sizes…
The laundry and dry cleaning sector has undergone its very own Industrial Revolution since the 1990s and start of this century. It’s been helped to grow with data management systems which work as a valuable ‘extra employee’, providing operations from large laundries to dry cleaning shops with valuable info on everything from what’s happening at that very moment to identifying growth areas to produce greater profits.
As you’d expect, those working on the technology have managed to keep pace and develop programmes and applications which are a perfect fit for the day-to-day operations of our industry, so that today’s tech is capable of handling far more than its predecessors, while becoming simpler to operate, often securely managing a huge range of processes in the background.
While data management systems are relatively ‘new’ in terms of the industry’s history, ‘long term’ relationships have been built over the past couple of decades, and some go back further. For instance, DryStream has been building EPoS systems for dry cleaners and laundries since 1993 but has never stood still and received the coveted LADAs accolade of ‘Most Innovative Company’ in November last year.
Angora Besco, the largest dry cleaning chain in the Channel Islands, has been using DryStream since 2000, and now reaches its branches throughout Jersey and Guernsey by remote app connection. Pauline Quigley in Jersey’s Angora Besco says: “Having the benefit to manage the system remotely saves a lot of time, particularly between the locations at our other businesses in the Channel Islands.” Meanwhile, Tracy Guille, based at Arrowsmith Marlowe’s in Guernsey, adds: “We benefit from managing stock control to price coordination, accounting and so on.
We can see how each location is operating on a weekly basis. We’re delighted with the functionality as an essential tool to help us run the business effectively.” But you don’t need a stretch of sea between parts of the operation to discover the benefits.
In Bath, a DryStream solution allows Regency Laundry to link its branches and headquarters comprising walk-in store, and CPU for laundry, dry cleaning and collection and delivery service. Companies such as Regency can host DryStream data privately and access each location over a wide area network to manage activities and workflow through the business. DryStream’s customers are a mix of single receiving shops, unit shops, agents and full-blown central processing operators.
The data needs are different, but DryStream is fully scalable to suit all platforms and can run on standalone platforms without any need for internet connections. This is great for the operator wanting to keep all data 100 per cent private and not to depend on external third-party internet services. And it’s cheap to run because an internet service is not required at the shop location.
Where connectivity is preferred, DryStream can be made to be accessible from authorised connections, stored centrally within the business or externally on a cloud platform for a wider accessible audience. “The primary advantage of a private server is control,” says DryStream’s technical director Daniel Wright. “We can configure data storage privately and use the internet as a communication tool to interrogate what’s required but the data remains secure and off line, which is what many customers request.”
For customers happy to keep their data in the cloud, DryStream can configure a database and arrange direct access to users and managers. “A cloud server saves on initial investment, but requires a running cost” says DryStream’s Jon Beach. “It’s all about customer preference.
A balance between initial cost, ongoing cost and data privacy. We can configure DryStream however they prefer.”
“We’re delighted with the functionality as an essential tool to help us run the business effectively”
Another good example of a long term relationship is the one between London’s noted dry cleaners Swan, who have been using Axcess IT dry cleaning point of sale (PoS) systems since 2002 and have installed them across all their branches.
Swan’s director Steve Ahmed sees it as key to him making decisions which have helped the business to grow and says: “The systems have enabled me to maintain records and keep transparency of all the different types of key information, such as daily sales, voids, new customer visits and much more, without being physically present at the stores.”