Editor's comment

Raising the standards

9 May 2012

The recent Guild/TSA conference’s panel discussion on ways to improve the drycleaning industry’s image was much needed in the wake of yet another adverse report from the consumers’ champion Which?.

The discussion raised some useful ideas, such as a minimum standard of service to qualify for trade association membership and more promotion and use of online training – such as the European, E-dryclean project – and better marketing.

One audience member raised the possibility of legislation. This was not felt to be feasible but the idea some more formal monitoring or regulation could seem tempting because surely the underlying problem is that the industry is unregulated. Anyone can set up a drycleaning business and, as a result, there are a lot of businesses with only minimal skills.

There are good drycleaners out there but we need more and more promotion of those good businesses.

Self-regulation seems to be the only answer so it is encouraging that TSA is setting up a working party to investigate the concept of a minimum standard for its drycleaning members, but wider involvement is needed.

One suggestion was that the minimum standard concept might receive support from the insurance sector. Such support, perhaps with discounts in premiums as an incentive, would be valuable for it is clear that if standards are to be raised, then one organisation acting on its own is not sufficient.

We need to draw in not just trade associations but also related business sectors such as equipment suppliers and service organisations to work with cleaners who might never consider joining an official body.

Discussions at conference largely talk to a converted audience, those good drycleaners who will continue to keep their skills up to date.

Raising industry standards means reducing the number of poorly skilled cleaners, preferably by getting them to improve.

Any organisation that does business with drycleaners should be encouraged to contribute the standards debate.

From the most recent Which? report, it seems that some basic skills are lacking. That situation needs to be remedied and ways of doing this need to be explored.

Janet Taylor - Jtaylor@laundryandcleaningnews.com

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