You DON’T know it all

Kevin Marois

According to the internet, human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. That is a lot to learn. Are you keeping up? Not likely. Think about the facts and knowledge that you DO have. Is that information increasing?

Who’s on your team?

As a business owner, you need a team of experts that you can count on. You need technical experts like plumbers, electricians, welders and technicians, to name a few. You also need a professional team. Lawyers, accountants, marketing people, bankers, etc. You might also consider Health and Safety consultants, human resources, payroll. The list goes on.

It is no longer possible to know everything and do everything. You have to have a team that knows about your business and will help you as you need it. These are professional people who are trained in their field and whose advice is most valuable.

Expect to pay for good advice

Dry cleaners most often ask friends, family or other dry cleaners the same question until they get someone who has the same opinion as they do. Then they move out confidently in whatever direction they first wanted to. Everyone has an opinion. Generally free advice is worth exactly what you pay for it. Most often this kind of research is just a pooling of ignorance.

A professional is removed, or distanced, from your business. They are not emotionally involved in this decision. They feel the weight of responsibility when they give professional advice. Their opinion is not the same as a neighbour leaning over the fence and babbling.

They are giving you their professional opinion and advising you what to do. And for their professional opinion, you should expect to pay a fee. Their advice will be valuable to your business – even if they advise against whatever you wanted to do. They are on your team and they want to see you succeed.

Are you increasing your knowledge?

You are an expert in your field. You are a fabric care professional. What are you doing to increase your knowledge? How are you training yourself? How do you demonstrate your ability or skill to customers?

DLI (and others) offers courses to increase your skill. They have exams to demonstrate your knowledge. They offer professional certifications. DLI is an independent body that will certify to your customers that you are an expert in caring for their garments.

Another source of knowledge is conventions. The Clean Show offers many seminars that are valuable to you and your business. And at those seminars, you can often meet people who are glad to share knowledge with you.

Fabrics and fashions keep changing. We recently had a discussion with Richard Reese from Unipress about handling shirts with spandex in them. That was not a problem 10 years ago. Are you keeping up? Most cleaners learn something when they have to write a cheque for a claim. Why not pay the money and learn something so you don’t have to pay a claim?

But it is not just you that needs training. Your staff need it too! Training someone is a good review for you, as well. Make your staff the experts and then the business is bigger than you are. The more knowledgeable your people are, the better your business is.

You are your customer’s expert

When one of your customers has a problem, who do they turn to? The internet? Social media? Friends? Hopefully they come to you. You need to let people know about your training. You have educated yourself so let people know about that. Build relationships with retailers. You can help one another, but they need to know you ahead of time, not just when there is a problem

If you are an expert, then you need the tools to do a job properly. Do you have tweezers and a magnifying glass on your spotting board? Maybe a UV light to help see stains? Do you have the proper brush to card out that sheepskin rug? Do you have all the stain removal agents to care for any possible stains?

Every couple years my company has to buy the latest ASME code book to stay up-to-date on boiler repairs. That book is about 100 pages and costs over $600. But it is one of the tools we need to do our job properly.

If you are not an expert, customers will find someone who is, and they will stay with that cleaner for a long time. Can you discuss different solvents? Can you discuss instructions on a care label? This is your field of expertise. You should be ready to show it.

Lifetime of learning

You need to have a team of experts and you need to be an expert. Make the commitment to spend your work lifetime expanding your knowledge and learning. Improve your skill and your business will improve.

Kevin and Paula Marois founded Calgary-based Integrity Mechanical in 2003 to service plants in western Canada. He writes on issues related to equipment, its purchase, maintenance and use. You can reach Kevin at or via his website

Before you go...

Give us your email and we will notify you
each week when we post fresh content.
We don't want you to miss a thing!