Fabrics like silk, suede and leather — and some linen and wool garments — simply can’t be put in the washing machine. That’s where dry cleaning comes in. Dry cleaners use filtered solvents and specialist machines to remove stains from delicate and hard-to-clean fabrics. If you’re an entrepreneur with a passion for clothing and you want to know how to run a dry cleaning business, this is the Countingup guide for you.

In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of running a successful dry cleaning business — and we’ll give you tips on how to track your company finances, too.

  • How to start a dry cleaning business
  • How to run a dry cleaning business

How to start a dry cleaning business

Successful businesses begin with a plan — a business plan, to be precise. If you’d like to start your own dry cleaning business, you can use the following five-step process to get your venture off the ground:

  1. Write a business plan: Business plans are broken up into several distinct sections, beginning with an executive summary. Among other things, you’ll write about your company, your services, your marketing strategy and your financial strategy. A well-written business plan can help you get funding.
  2. Register your business: You’ll need to register for self assessment with HMRC. You can choose to register as a sole proprietor, a limited company or — if you’re going into business with another person — a partnership. If you choose a limited company structure, you’ll also need to register with Companies House.
  3. Obtain funding: When you write the financial strategy part of your business plan, you’ll get a better idea of the amount of funding you’ll need to start your dry cleaning business. Factor in rent, dry cleaning equipment, dry cleaning supplies and other expenses. If you need to borrow money, you might be eligible for a government-backed startup loan.
  4. Get a business license: You’ll use chemicals — some of them powerful — every day in your dry cleaning business. As a result, you’ll need to register with your local authority and get an operator’s permit. Other activities, like playing background music and advertising signage also sometimes require permits. Visit GOV.UK’s licence finder to find out more.
  5. Track your finances: To grow your business, you’ll need to track things like incoming payments, outgoing expenses and profit and loss. Countingup is a bank account and a suite of accounting tools rolled into one app — and many small business owners find that it fulfils most of their accounting needs.

How to run a dry cleaning business

You know how to start a dry cleaning business — but what about running a business from day to day? Here are four tips you can use to impress customers, grow your client base and grab a bigger market share.

1) Keep your premises clean

As a dry cleaning business, your primary mission is to clean clothes — and clean premises set the stage for excellence. If your shop is spotless, your customers will notice as soon as they walk through the door. They’ll feel reassured at first glance, and they’ll assume that an eye for detail runs through your entire business.

One of the easiest ways to maintain clean surroundings is to create a cleaning routine. Everyday cleaning tasks might include sweeping and mopping your shop floor, cleaning countertops and dusting window sills. Seasonal tasks could include floor buffing and repainting. 

2) Create a great garment-management system

Garment management systems, or GMSs, help to organise clothes and streamline the dry cleaning process. Really big dry cleaning companies have enormous GMSs; small dry cleaners use less expensive scaled-down systems instead. A simple QuickSort conveyor system, for example, can handle between 300 and 2,500 items a day. 

Before diving into dry cleaning technology, consider what your needs are. How many items do you typically handle per week? Do you need a multi-station system, or can you make do with a single station? If you decide to opt for a GMS, choose only the features that are most likely to benefit you from a cost efficiency perspective.

3) Promote your business properly

To build your customer base, you’ll need to promote your dry cleaning business. There are lots of different organic and paid marketing techniques — but to create an effective strategy, you’ll need to learn about your customers. Insights based on data — who your customers are, and what motivates them — can help you craft an impactful plan.

Organic marketing strategies include SEO content, optimised blog posts, social media posts, link building and word of mouth. Paid strategies include pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, paid social media advertising, banner adverts, affiliate marketing and paid newspaper or magazine ads.

4) Connect with customers online

Accessible, responsive companies often do better than their less sociable peers. You can connect with your customers online via social media — Facebook or Twitter, for instance — and via review sites like Trustpilot. Social proof can make a huge impact on sales: when people see other people speaking or writing favorably about a company, they’re more likely to trust that business. 

Keep on top of your finances with a simple app

As the owner of a dry cleaning business, you’ll have a lot on your plate — and hopefully your garment rack, too. That’s where the Countingup app comes in. It is the business current account with free accounting software, which can help you track your business finances. You can create customised invoices, record expenses, and get profit and loss insights instantly to see how you’re doing. You can find out more about Countingup here.