Marty Moore looked down at the ruined pair of jeans in his hands, the jeans he had promised a first-time customer of D&M Cleaners to clean and just shrugged. “Looks like we bought these jeans,” he said as he stared at the black that ran all over the white designer jeans. “That’s the right thing to do.”
Moore promptly called the customer and told her what happened. She returned to the store and gave him the receipt, pleased with the service he was providing. “I was a bit stunned. They were $1,100,” he said. “She told me though that she got them for $580.” Moore offered her two options – a check for the total amount, or he would give her more than $580 in future credit. She chose the latter option, pleased with the outcome of the day.
“Our name, our credibility, was more important than $580,” Moore said. “She’s still a regular customer and her most recent monthly bill was $1,300. Doing what’s right is a smart move. It’s always the smart move.”
In the world of dry cleaners, laundromats and commercial cleaners, customer service is a priority according to the owners. There are so many “fly by night” places that just offer the basics, that working with customers and treating them right is what sets the successful places apart from the rest.
Moore’s dad purchased D&M Cleaners in 1976 and Moore purchased it three years later, partnering with his mom until her death in 1993. They have three locations – McAllen, Edinburg and Pharr. All the operations equipment, however, resides at the Pharr location. Not only does D&M provide dry cleaning, but it also provides laundry services, alterations, sewing, wedding gown preservation and more. “What sets us apart is our goal to try and put whatever you brought us back into its new condition – that’s manicuring it. And the wedding gown preservation is a really neat process.”
Having the industrial equipment all in one place helps Marty and his brother Tony maintain the highest possible quality – they strive to see and touch every single piece that comes into the store, which means 700-900 articles of clothing – daily. “As it goes out the door, one of us inspects it – we have our hands on nearly everything.”
What many people may not know – the mystery behind dry cleaning has absolutely nothing to do with “dry” cleaning. The process began like many great inventions do, accidentally. According to battisons.com, a fabrics specialty site, “The modern history of dry cleaning began with a happy accident caused by a clumsy maidservant. At some point in the 1840s, French textile maker Jean-Baptiste Jolly’s maid accidentally knocked over Jolly’s kerosene lamp onto a linen tablecloth. Jolly was surprised to find that the linen in that spot became much cleaner. Jolly quickly turned this revelation into an extension of his business, and the firm of Jolly-Belin in Paris is historically credited as the first dry cleaning business, using kerosene as its primary cleaning material.”
Since then the solvents/mixtures used in the dry-cleaning process have developed, working on a larger variety of stains as well as a greater variety of materials. There are more than one option but Moore tends to stay with the more environmentally safe products. He also finds that is has been safer for some of his customers.
“I had a customer who had been using other cleaners and had a skin rash,” Moore said. “He went to the dermatologist and they prescribed him a cream but it would go away. He started doing business with us and it has been cleaning up. We are always keeping up to date on the different products, especially when it is safer for the environment and our customers.”
Moore has seen the competition change over the years but his sense of customers first is what he says makes the company stand out, with clientele from Brownsville to Rio Grande City. In fact, he is a firm believer that when a new competitor comes into the market, it’s better to lend a hand than anything else.
“Competition has changed in the fact that we have so many more discount cleaners, the $1.50 stores,” Moore said. “We’ve seen them pop up and have seen them close. I believe its crucial that the business of dry cleaning have a good name, no matter who is doing it.”
Moore recently spent time with a new operator who had re-opened a store. They discussed pricing strategies, cleaning techniques and other business aspects.
“I tried walking him through it; he was as green as could be,” Moore said. “I tried to mentor him the best I could. It makes the industry look better when people are doing things right. When you are paying what you pay for your garments, it’s an investments. You might want to take care of it.”
And for Moore, who is at the store every day at 5:30 in the morning (“I like to get a head start and spend time in The Word,” he said.) it all comes down to customer service. Products may change, technology may change and clothing may change, but Moore said if you take care of people, they will reciprocate.
“Customer service never changes,” said Moore, whose other passion besides dry cleaning is a prison ministry he runs. “What I have enjoyed in the last 40 years is relationships with customers. We have made lifelong friends. We encourage our customer service people to make a friend out of customers. Lets not keep them strangers, lets make them friends pretty quick. I believe we do that better than anybody.”
For more information, visit D&M Cleaners on Facebook. D&M Cleaners’ main production site is located at 129 W. Park St. in Pharr.