BY ADAM PERKOWSKY
Known for its “same-day service for a single low price,” the company started as eight dry cleaners in the Baltimore-Washington, DC, area. Today, it has expanded to more than 65 locations across the country and claims to have cleaned more than 20 million garments.
Hotels can choose ZIPS as the preferred provider of garment care for their guests, their employees and their commercial items (such as uniforms), or they can host a ZIPS Locker on property.
“This serves as a value-added service to their guests and employees, as well as to their neighbors, by providing convenient, secure, low-cost, high-quality and quick care for their garments,” said Bob Barry, president/CEO, ZIPS Cleaners.
Hoteliers can also become ZIPS franchisees and branch out into another business segment within their existing—or new—markets.
“We think members of the hotel segment would be naturals as ZIPS operators because of their experience with and appreciation for service,” said Barry. “They don’t actually have to become day-to-day operators to do this, however. We can find operators to run the business for them, or they can align with an existing full-service, on-premise processing plant franchisee and open up to two satellite stores per plant.
For those hotels that would be interested in choosing ZIPS as their preferred launderer, Barry believes there are advantages to selecting his company over others including “our one-low-price, in-by-9-out-by-5 for dry cleaning; high-quality garment care service; the convenience of multiple access points where they can drop off and pick up their belongings, including an easy-to-use mobile app to track their belongings; and a 24/7 EZ Drop program at every location.”
ZIPS offers five services out of a single operation: dry cleaning, wash ’n fold laundry, pressed laundry, alterations and the cleaning of comforters and other household items.
“There are no surprises about what you’ll pay at ZIPS, either,” Barry said. “We have one low price to dry clean any garment, and comparatively low, straightforward prices for all of the other services we provide. We continue to invest in technology that makes it increasingly easy for any customer to interact with us and also tracks where their items are in the cleaning process.”
He also pointed out that ZIPS is environmentally responsible by using hydrocarbon solvent DF2000, an odor-free product that is more environmentally safe than PERC. It also captures the by-product of its operations within clay filters that are disposed of through a third-party government-compliant specialist, and also uses 90% less water than other systems. ZIPS’ dry-cleaning machines also employ a patented jet spray technology that cuts cycle times in half and uses less energy. Its natural gas boilers are cleaner and also use less energy than electric or oil-heated equipment, according to Barry.
The ZIPS Locker is a new program that, Barry noted, provides the conveniences of time and place to those seeking cleaning services.
“With the lockers set up on a hotel property, anyone in our system can get an access code and drop off their items on their own schedule and without having to make the trek to one of our stores,” he said. “When the items are clean, we’ll return them to the locker and notify the customer, so they can retrieve their belongings again at their leisure and without having to travel out of the way or worry about getting to us during open hours.”
Barry took over the reins at the company in May 2021 after being a board member for more than five years. During his time in the C-suite, there have been some changes at ZIPS, including a brand refresh.
“We’ve made changes in virtually every corner of our operation,” he said. “We’ve made changes to our corporate team with many new positions, including new directors of marketing and procurement/innovation, a new instructional designer and additions to our existing operations team focusing on training and the development of our team members. We have just completed a brand refresh, changing our name from ZIPS Dry Cleaners to ZIPS Cleaners to better convey the breadth of services we offer. In line with that we are updating our store design, using bolder, brighter colors and bringing more light into our interiors by opening up window space.”
Like other companies, ZIPS is having staff issues, something Barry is addressing. “We have just announced a new partnership with Worksteam, a hiring platform and mobile app that streamlines the sourcing and onboarding of hourly workers, to help our franchisees source, screen and onboard candidates more quickly and cost-effectively,” he said. “We also have just completely overhauled our training program, creating multilingual modules covering every position within our stores to make new employees feel more confident and capable as they get started on what we hope will be a long-lasting relationship with us.”