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Sunday, Aug 14, 2022
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CLEANERS—Making A clean Sweep

Pressed4Time Core Business: Mobile dry cleaning pick-up and delivery service Projected Revenue in 2001: $40,000 Estimated Revenues for 2002: $80,000-plus Employees in 2000: 1 Projected Employees in 2001: Goal: Establish in-house dry cleaning plant; expand corporate client base Driving Force: To provide a service for busy workers An entrepreneur is hoping that extra time is worth a few extra dollars to Valley workers who still need to make sure their clothes are cleaned and pressed If Stuart Weinstein eventually has his way, you’ll never set foot inside a dry cleaner again. Eight months ago, Weinstein took $14,000 in cash and substantial experience in grocery retail sales and management and opened the first San Fernando Valley-based Pressed4Time franchise, a mobile dry cleaning pick-up-and-delivery service that also provides shoe and handbag repair. Weinstein hopes to make life a little easier for those 9-to-5ers who often spend their Saturday mornings running errands they don’t have time for during the workweek. “I once used a service like this myself when I was living on the East Coast and I thought, what a great concept for a business,” said Weinstein. “You give people a great service and, on top of that, give them something back they value most of all: their time.” Weinstein said he investigated other franchise opportunities, but this one was particularly alluring because the licensing fee (about $13,000) was within his budget, and he knew he would be pioneering the Valley-based P4T network. But after start-up fees, marketing costs and the somewhat unexpected expense of a new van for the business, revenues for the first year have not been exactly red hot. He anticipates gross sales for this first year should be around $40,000, but added, “I fully expect to double that in the next year.” “I’ve really spent much of this year slowly setting up the business and carefully mapping out where I wanted to go and who I wanted to target,” said Weinstein. “So, although I may not have brought in what I know I can do, I have managed to do a lot of work establishing myself and I anticipate the business to grow very rapidly beginning my second year.” By the end of the first year in operation, most P4T franchises are pulling in about $12,000 in sales, he said. All Pressed4Time franchises run on a two-day schedule, meaning they visit a company twice a week: once for pick-up, once for delivery. Customers are given their own laundry bags and order forms. Bills are sent with delivery two days later and can either be mailed in or paid on the next scheduled visit. Weinstein so far has no paid employees, but his father, who is retired, is assisting him with sales and marketing. He anticipates hiring his first employee in about six months. While anyone can use the service, corporate clients are a key target market because of the potential core of repeat and word-of-mouth customers. But getting past the gatekeepers is often a challenge as he pounds through Valley office buildings trying to drum up business. “I’m carefully putting together proposals for some big companies in the Valley, like Blue Cross,” said Weinstein. “It can be rough. I get reactions from people when I walk into a businesses that range from complete ‘no, not another salesman’ looks, to people jumping up and down and thanking me for being there.” The first Pressed4Time service was actually based here in the Valley. It was started by a Westlake accountant named Ken Levinson in 1987. In 1991 Kent Issenberg bought the business and the franchise headquarters are now based in Sudbury, Mass. Issenberg said Weinstein may have some minor competition from local dry cleaning businesses that will pick up and deliver on request. But his franchise is primed for rapid growth because, for now, he owns the Valley market. A second Valley-based franchise is set to open by Labor Day. “For the length of the business, he’s been pretty aggressive on the marketing side,” Issenberg said. Of the roughly 85 franchises spread across 32 states, Canada and Australia, only five are in Southern California. Franchisee territories are organized to include roughly 30,000 “white-collar” workers. Weinstein uses the services of a Valley-based dry cleaning plant and a local shoe and handbag repair business. But eventually he’d like to open his own plant where dry cleaning, alterations and repair work are all done under his supervision. “I’d ultimately enjoy and prefer having much more control over the quality of the work we stand by,” said Weinstein. “Although we are providing an excellent quality of service now, I would prefer to be more hands on in the future.” Issenberg said about 15 percent of the franchisees have moved on to own and run their own plants. Before they do however, he said, they must be sure they are ready to take on the additional challenge that goes along with the increase in control. “The complexion of the business changes dramatically once you go into providing your own plant services,” said Issenberg. Brian Millar, a branch client services representative with CharlesSchwab in Woodland Hills, said he and three other co-workers use the service regularly. Millar admitted the prices may be slightly higher than what he pays at the counter of a local dry cleaner, but for the time he saves, and because there is no charge for pick-up or delivery, he says it’s worth every penny. “I’ve used the company for about five months now and I can tell you that they do a very good job,” said Millar. “Stuart and I’ve gotten to know each other very well and he’s running a great business. And, aside from the convenience, anytime I need an alteration or something isn’t right and mistakes do happen sometimes he takes care of it right away.”

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