Koen: The joy and challenges of being a small business owner
I think every small business owner can relate to the struggles of getting through the days’ work when you are short staffed. This last week especially has been tough.
Summer is finally here so the heat in the plant has increased quite a bit and some of the presses have decided to be temperamental until they get used to it as well. Unfortunately, we’ve had several of our team members out off and on for different reasons so every day the employees, myself and my wife have had to jump through hoops to get everything accomplished on time.
I think every small business owner wishes they could overhire employees by at least 20 percent so when one or two can’t make, it you still have enough staff to get everything done. We are in the same boat as restaurants.
We have a back of the house that does the production. Cleaning and pressing the garments and we have a front of the house taking orders and helping customers with any questions or special requests. As I write this, my wife is pressing all of the dry clean pants and I have spent the morning working the stain board.
This is an incredibly frustrating job because you want more than anything to remove every stain from every garment and that is just not possible. Most of our customers come weekly or more often so you see the same wardrobe over and over.
We can tell most times whose clothes belong to who just by looking at them and having seen them before. Everybody has their own style and the clothes they bring in reflects that. The spotting board is a mixture of art, science and knowledgeable guesswork.
Knowing a garment has been worked on already and has now been brought back so you don’t have to try that particular stain again helps. I can usually look at a stain and know if it is food or grease but sometimes it looks like blood but is actually wood stain or some kind of paint.
I’m not there when the stain happened although many of our customers will tell us what the stain is when they bring the garment in, which helps tremendously. Thankfully, we have a great staff and they jump in to get the job done whenever somebody is absent. Many of our employees have been with us since the beginning of this endeavor and several of them have left and come back because they like the environment here better.
We still have several hundred button-up shirts to do and one more load of dry cleaning to press so I had better get back to it. I know if I don’t, eventually my wife will notice the stains stacking up, come into the office and yell at me for playing on the computer during a short-staffed busy day.
David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaders and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at dochecleanersamarillo.com