Shirt finishing is a profitable addition to a business11 January 2016
Offering a shirt service as part of the full drycleaning package should help to secure loyalty of regular customers. Tony Vince reports
Shirt finishing continues to be a very useful service for the professional textile cleaner to provide. Even in these days of increasingly casual dressing and the development of the non-iron shirt, there is still a market for the professionally laundered shirt.
When a business is cleaning suits to a consistently high standard, it makes sense to offer the full package and help to secure a regular client's loyalty. Additional income can come from providing a service to businesses, such as hotels or airlines, where staff wear shirts as part of their uniform. So in total there could be plenty of opportunities for adding extra, regular revenue.
A shirt service could be attractive for cleaners using a wetcleaning system such as Miele Professional's WetCare, based on a system originally developed with detergent manufacturer Kreussler. Miele's aim was to develop a cleaning process that was effective on all garments used water and safe, biodegradable detergents and was truly green.
The Miele WetCare System requires specialist finishing equipment as part of the whole process.
Renzacci UK is able to provide a high quality range of finishing equipment from the Italian manufacturer Pony that allows both wetcleaned and drycleaned garments to be expertly finished.
"Renzacci UK has seen a growing number of businesses offering a shirt service in recent years," says managing director Jason Alexander. He adds that quite often businesses reach a critical point where their workload is increasing but they don't have enough capacity or time to keep up with demand. "This is where a Pony shirt machine becomes a shop owner's best friend."
Renzacci UK offers a range of shirt machine packages to suit every budget and can offer finance packages so each system becomes self-funding. Customers are able to have the equipment installed quickly into their business to relieve the pressure and boost their profits at the same time.
One of the benefits from a Pony shirt machine is that even unskilled operators can use the equipment and achieve outstanding results every time, says Alexander.
"That can save on labour costs and build capacity within the business, while at the same time ensuring a consistently high quality."
Alexander says that the Pony Angel is one of Renzacci UK's most popular shirt finishers as it can produce a perfect finish in under 30seconds. This single-buck shirt press is also equipped with a "touch screen" computer, allowing the operator total control over all the machine's functions.
The Teflon coated plates prevent shining even on dark garments and are easy to wipe clean to remove starch residue. When the Angel is teamed with the Pony collar and cuff press, a single operator can process up to 60 shirts an hour.
Quality control was one of the main attractions for Amanullah Khaliqdinsa of Serena Dry Cleaners in Surrey when he decided to invest in a Pony Angel shirt finisher. Previously he had outsourced all shirts but was unhappy with the quality of the cleaning. He says: "With help from Renzacci we were able to bring the service in house and keep tighter control on the quality. We are able to get a superior clean and pristine finish on shirts.
I am now taking in work from other drycleaners and am looking to increase productivity and revenue by an extra 20% in the next few months."
Renzacci UK also supplies the Pony Eagle shirt finisher with Hot Air Recovery System (HARS).
The Eagle builds on the Angel's success. It features heated, Teflon-coated shoulder pads and allows a blown finish for the shirt body rather than a pressed finish. The built-in heat recovery system is said to save 30% on energy costs. This system, like the Pony Angel, works perfectly when combined with the Pony collar and cuff press (CCP) and is capable of processing around 35 - 40 shirts an hour.
At Jem's Dry Cleaners in Essex, Jemal Hasan was looking to expand his already thriving business and recognised that he needed extra capacity in his shirt service.
A Pony Eagle machine was quickly installed on a Sunday morning in one of Hasan's shops, based within a Sainsbury's supermarket.
"I decided that I needed a shirt machine because the shop was so busy drycleaning garments that the shirts were always getting left to last and I had to come in on a Sunday to finish them all off," says Hasan. "The Pony Eagle has allowed me to speed up my processing time as well as giving me a pristine finish."
He had been hand-pressing shirts for years but the quality of finish that the Eagle produces is, he says, "outstanding." "Customers have commented about the quality and my growing reputation is having a positive effect on my revenue."
The HARS hot air recovery system allows Hasan to save energy but he particularly values the compact style of the machine.
The shop is quite limited for space but the machine can be placed anywhere. He adds that the Eagle is so easy to use than any of his staff can produce a pristine result every time, even counter staff and those that mainly operate the key cutting and shoe repair equipment.
"This has allowed me to build capacity within my business and I have increased my shirt revenue by at least 25/30% since the installation of the Eagle less than a year ago."
An option for all cleaners
All professional cleaning outlets should consider the latest finishing equipment to extend their services, according to Corinna Mapelli at Trevil. Alex Reid distributes Trevil's shirt finishing equipment in the UK.
She says that 40 shirts an hour is a good benchmark on which to base an investment decision. Automatic shirt finishers must be able to produce at least 40 an hour, without any need for
Otherwise the time spent would reduce total productivity and cancel out any profit from the service.
"A shirt service has low unit margins, so it can only prove profitable if volumes are very high and production very efficient so that fixed costs are covered," says Mapelli. She explains that usually a shirt service is seen as a way to attract customers, therefore profits are intentionally kept to a minimum. The aim is to get the customer to bring in other garments that have a higher charge.
Trevil's experience with business models around the world allows the company to advise those starting a shirt service. "As manufacturers, we do not have a daily contact with final customers," says Mapelli.?"Local dealers often provide marketing packages to support their customers. They are also able to spread ideas, using "best practices" as a reference for others."
Promotion is the last step of this process. The means can vary depending on the location of the shop and the neighbourhood.
"Usually the service is promoted by means of aggressive price promotions on volumes - for example, an extra discounted price for cleaning ten shirts."
Ways of promoting the service can include banners in the shop window or leaflets distributed locally but more cleaners are turning to social media, updating their website with a mailing list or a Facebook page that can be used to advertise new services or temporary promotions.
Trevil's range includes a full line of shirt units, encompassing all the technologies available.
The three main products are the Presto FC hot-plate unit, the Trevistar blown shirt unit and the multi-garment tensioning form finisher Princess Ultra.
The Presto FC is the latest addition to the Trevil line of hot-plate units for shirts.
Hot-plate units provide a crisp finish, and high productivity. The Presto FC features a full length rear plate to make sure of an even result at the back. The tail of the shirt is pulled down by a tensioning mechanism that is built into the form, and which does not leave an impression on the shirt. The machine has, as a standard, a sleeve tensioning system for both short and long sleeves. The tensioning arms are adjustable in both height and angle. Cuff placket presses are designed to provide a crisp finish on both placket and pleats.
The Presto FC can finish up to 60 pieces/hr with one operator.
Princess Ultra is a utility tensioning finisher that finishes men's shirts, ladies' blouses and other garments such as jackets, coats and dresses. Its versatility makes Princess Ultra the "entry level" for shirt finishing. It is ideal for cleaners that do not yet have the volumes to justify the investment in a dedicated shirt finisher. As volumes increase, so the customer can add a dedicated shirt finisher and use the Princess Ultra as a form finisher and for "odd size" shirts.
Trevistar is a dedicated blowing shirt finisher. One operator can process 50 shirts an hour with a very high quality finish, virtually without any need for touch-up.
Sheila Higgs at Dane Realstar says that the professional textile care industry is cost conscious. The latest drycleaning and laundry machines have many cost saving devices but there are other factors that the business must look at when purchasing finishing equipment.
"A customer looking for a new piece of equipment will sometimes be driven by the sale price, but should remember the importance of the back up from the supplier," says Higgs.
She continues: "The customer's first impression of the cost to purchase, for example, a Fimas 296 and 387 might be to ask "how much" but if leased, the initial outlay would be relatively minimal and the overall cost would be the equivalent to that of processing seven to eight shirts per day." There are the tax benefits to be considered too. "Savings can be made on labour costs and the quality of the finished shirt will be consistent over the day rather than declining if the operator gets tired from working on an ironing table.
Dane Realstar distributes equipment from Sidi and Fimas in the UK.
The Fimas 296 pressed shirt unit is specifically designed for producing quality results on high volumes.
It can finish wet or dry shirts and on both it gives a high quality crisp, firm finish to the body, yoke, shoulders, long or short sleeves and sleeve placket.
Capable of processing 45 - 60 shirts per hour with one operator, the machine has a touchscreen control and 10 pre-set programs with adjustable settings.
The Fimas 296 is now joined by the double-buck 298 which also uses a pressing technique. The two formers rotate at 180degrees and the finishing station includes both hot-plates and hot air blowing.
Both machines can be teamed up with the Fimas 387 collar and cuff press. This has a steam-heated and
easy-to-clean polished-head top buck and safety rail. Pads prevent pressure marks from buttons.
The collar and cuff press can be connected to central steam services or supplied with an optional 36kW boiler capable of producing sufficient steam for both this machine and the 296.
Dane Realstar recently carried out an installation at Riverside Laundry Services, in Brunswick Business Park in Liverpool. Riverside offers a comprehensive choice of drycleaning and commercial laundry products and services on Merseyside.
The business looked at several suppliers and chose Dane Realstar for the quality both of the Fimas finishers it could supply and its back-up service. Riverside says the finishing system and the collar and cuff press combine to provide the standard of finish that customers expect.
Dane Realstar also offers the top-of-the-range Fimas 389 blown shirt finisher, which Higgs says has
high-tech features but is easy to use and with only minimum training.
The finance cost is said to be equivalent to the cost of finishing three to four shirts per day and the machine includes energy-saving features.
Dane Realstar also supplies the Sidi Mondial Easyform range of steam finishers for drycleaners looking for quality result at an economical price.
The Italian company's Easyform 2000 relies on manual stretching and the Easyform 3000 has a pneumatic stretch function.
Both machines can finish shirts from either a wet or dry state.
There are available for connection to central steam supplies or can be supplied with a built-in boiler.
They can be combined with the Sidi collar and cuff press AT-770/CT-CP to provide a fast, and functional shirt finishing system.
EAGLE FINISHER: Jemal Hasan was looking to expand his already thriving business. He ordered a Pony Eagle shirt finisher with Hot Air Recovery System (HARS) from Renzacci UK