How to start a dry cleaning business

Editorial Team

6 min read
Dry cleaning business owner looking at papers

Pretty much everyone will, at some point, need a local dry cleaner. That’s why starting a dry cleaning business can be a rewarding and lucrative venture, offering great potential for growth and profitability.

However, it also requires a certain level of expertise, upfront investment in equipment, and patience in building a loyal customer base. By understanding some key considerations and implementing strategic steps, you can establish a successful dry cleaning business that caters to the needs of your target market.

Choose your services and pricing

When starting a dry cleaning business, it’s important to determine which services you will offer. While dry cleaning is the core service, you can also consider additional offerings such as wash and fold, tailoring, repairs, delivery, and same-day services. Conduct thorough market research to identify the competitive landscape and identify a missing service in your area, or a niche that allows you to stand out. Offering a specialized service or targeting an underserved segment can help you carve a unique position in the market that can help make people choose your business instead of your competitors.

Pricing is a crucial aspect to consider here. Study the pricing structures of competitors in your area and aim to offer competitive rates without compromising quality. Striking the right balance between affordability and profitability can help attract customers and build a solid foundation for your business.

Write a business plan

Once you’ve completed your market research and determined your service offerings and pricing, it’s time to develop your business plan. Your business plan documents your strategy and offers plenty of details to help potential investors understand your value proposition, target market, and plans for business growth.

Your business plan should include lots of financial data, as well as a competitive analysis that outlines where you’ll fit within the industry, when you think you’ll start to be profitable, and how much funding it will take to get there.

Select a business name

Deciding on a name for your dry cleaning business can be one of the most fun parts of starting a small business. This is where you can show that creative side and appeal to your target audience.

Assuming you pick something other than your name, you will need to register the business as a DBA, or “doing business as.” Having a DBA can help establish credibility with lenders and suppliers, keep your personal tax filings separate from the business, and make it easier to franchise in the future if you decide to go that route.

Decide on a structure

Before you register your small business, you’ll need to select your organization’s structure. A sole proprietorship can be the easiest one to set up if you are a business of one. If you’re going into the dry cleaning business with others, then you might want to consider a partnership or a Limited Liability Company (LLC).

You will also want to obtain a business license. Requirements vary by state and local community, so make sure to check the current licensing requirements in your location. Some of these licenses and permits may also require certain professional certifications.

Pick a location

Selecting the right location is key to getting your business off the ground. Use your market research to understand where your key demographic lives and works. You’ll want to ensure that your customers can easily access your business, whether via car or by foot. Look for a location that offers enough parking or possibly has the capability to add a drive-through window for early morning drop-offs or late afternoon pick-ups. And, does the space have enough room for the equipment you plan to purchase? Does it have the proper plumbing and electrical hook-ups for your needs? If not, consider how that will affect your budget if you need to have the space updated.

Navigate equipment options

Dry cleaning requires specialized equipment and expertise to operate it effectively. Research the different types of equipment needed to start a dry cleaning business and consider the pros and cons of purchasing new versus used machinery. While buying used equipment may save you money upfront, be cautious as repairs and maintenance costs can accumulate in the long run. Assess the equipment requirements based on the range of services you plan to offer and consider also how this may impact your staffing needs.

Select a POS system

Before you open your doors, you’ll need a way to accept payments quickly to help move the lines and keep your customers happy. Choose the right POS system that offers multiple payment options to let your customers pay how they want to.

But, advanced POS systems for dry cleaning businesses can do more than process payments. They can help you run your entire operation–hiring and scheduling employees, managing inventory, tracking sales, and growing your customer base.

Build an informative website

In today’s digital age, having a professional and user-friendly website is crucial for any business. Design a website that provides detailed information about your dry cleaning services, including the range of offerings, pricing, and any unique value propositions. Keep in mind that your dry cleaning empire will lean heavily on repeat customers who are familiar and satisfied with the way you do business. So, your website is a good opportunity to highlight things like member benefits or unique promotions that can help build out your loyal customer base.

Invest in marketing and partnerships

Beyond pursuing individual customers, consider marketing your services to community centers, hotels, medical buildings, convention centers, apartment complexes, and other local establishments. Collaborating with these entities can help significantly increase your customer base and boost your profit margins. Establishing partnerships can help you tap into a larger market and attract recurring business. Additionally, implement targeted marketing campaigns through both online and offline channels to reach a wider audience.

Ready to get started?

Starting a dry cleaning business can be a rewarding endeavor with substantial opportunities for growth and profit. However, it is essential to acknowledge the high-skill nature of the industry, as well as the initial investment required. Building trust with customers takes time, but fostering strong relationships is crucial for long-term success. By carefully selecting services, pricing competitively, investing in appropriate equipment, building a comprehensive website, and exploring diverse marketing strategies, you can establish a thriving dry cleaning business that delivers exceptional service and cultivates customer loyalty. With dedication and perseverance, the potential for success in this industry can be limitless.

To learn more about how Clover can help you run your dry cleaning business, contact a Clover Business Consultant today.

This information is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial, or tax advice. Readers should contact their attorneys, financial advisors, or tax professionals to obtain advice with respect to any particular matter.

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