How to Start a Drop-Off & Pick-Up Dry Cleaners Business

A good business model is one that can make consumers' lives more convenient at a reasonable cost to them. A drop off and pick up dry cleaners is a business in which you go to your customers' homes or workplaces to save them a trip to your store. The success of your drop off service lies in your ability to find ways to make your customer's lives more convenient, provide great prices and conduct smart marketing.

Obtain a dry cleaner's license, as offered by the Dry-Cleaner Environmental Response Trust Fund Council. Contact your state government's office to apply for your license. Unquire about any additional licenses or permits, such as a sales tax permit, business permit and fire department permit. Contact your state's EPA office about air and water pollution control permits, which may take as long as 2 weeks for you to obtain. Contact your health department to see if you are subject to sewer connection fees.

Choose a locale in a moderately high traffic area, such as one near downtown, condominiums, apartment buildings or popular business parks. If you will be open late, your locale should be safe and well lit. A dry cleaning service needs at least 1,200 square feet. You will need a break room and restroom for your employees, a small waiting area, and room for one to two cash registers, as well as room for any vending machines and a large main room for your equipment, rails and dry cleaning materials.

Set your prices. Offer discounted rates for employees or groups who go in on a weekly service, where you pick up all of the participants dry cleaning at one location. Otherwise, you can request a minimum amount, such as $12, or charge a fee of $7 if the minimum is not met.

Determine if you will offer any specialized cleaning (such as leather items or wedding gowns), alterations or repairs.

Set your hours, keeping in mind how late you intend to have your vans out. Also determine how quickly you intend to return the customer's items. When setting these business parameters, ask yourself how you can make your customers' lives that much more convenient.

Purchase heavy duty equipment such as dry cleaning machines, dry-wet cleaning machines, presses, puff irons, spotting boards, air vacuums, air compressors and conveyors (see Resources section). Visit Crystaldrycleaners.com to purchase used dry cleaner equipment. Make sure to ask about warranties when purchasing equipment.

Purchase item stickers, overhead guns, sweater bags, assorted clips, ID stickers, computer receipts, invoices, fabric guns (to attach the tags) and hangers to catalog the clothing (see Resources sections).

Purchase an eight-passenger or more utility van or shuttle. Register your business vehicle under your business name. Purchase auto liability insurance for your van, which protects your business and your drivers. Visit Customonlinesigns.com to purchase signage to advertise your business, such as your name, website, area of coverage and phone number, on your van.

Purchase liability insurance, such as product liability, general liability, worker's compensation and auto liability (see Resources section).

Set up a merchant account online at Merchantexpress.com (see Resources section). This includes purchasing the necessary POS system so that you can accept credit cards. As a partially mobile business, it may be beneficial for you to take credit cards over the phone via wireless processing.

Tips

  • Consider offering gift cards or neat package deals that customers could purchase for new or overworked moms. A drop off dry cleaning 3 or 6 month package might make a great gift for a working parent.

    Advertise on bulletin boards at local restaurants that are near corporate businesses.

    Get to know a reliable handyman who can repair your equipment quickly.

    Consider purchasing a website for your business.

Warnings

  • If you have employees, be sure you have the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards posted in your back room.