About Don Holecek

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far Don Holecek has created 10 entries.

It’s good to know

Recently Crown Cleaners unveiled a new feedback program called ReviewMyDryCleaner.  The folks at Kona Cleaners in California developed this software a few years ago that allows current customers of a cleaner to give almost instant feedback to the cleaner on how they performed.  The way this is done is by emailing the customer once they pick up an order from Crown.  In the email, the customer is given a few options on how to rate the cleaner and if they want to post their review to social media websites.  Of course, this can only happen if the cleaner has collected the customers’ email address and entered it into their software.

There are a few objectives for a cleaner in implementing the ReviewMyDryCleaner program.  The obvious objective is for the valuable insight on the many facets of the business that is provides.  The quality of cleaning, spot removal, pressing, packaging and customer service feedback are just a few of the things that a cleaner is looking for.  Turn-around time, communication and value or pricing are some of the others.

Because social media is playing such a big part in how a consumer chooses to spend their money, drycleaners have been a little late to the table.  Not anymore.  The ReviewMyDryCleaner software automatically posts the reviews it receives to social media sites such as Google, Yelp, Facebook and to the cleaners’ own website.  The reviews, good, bad or indifferent, get posted.  The reviews provide critical feedback to the cleaner to make changes to improve their services.  The emails also serve as an opportunity to keep the lines of communication open between the customer and the cleaner.  The logic built into the software prohibits the customer from getting too […]

By |April 6th, 2017|Community, Crown News|Comments Off on It’s good to know

Finding and Keeping Quality Employees

It is important to me that Crown Cleaners provides great customer service, and I believe the path to customer satisfaction really begins with finding (and keeping) quality employees. Unfortunately, dry cleaning is an industry that often has high employee turnover, but I do what I can to attract ideal employees. For example, starting pay at Crown Cleaners is well above minimum wage and more than our competitors offer. I provide good benefits, including life insurance at no cost to employees, six paid holidays each year, three annual “family days” (days when Crown closes – such as Good Friday – so employees can be with their loved ones), and a pension plan that matches employee investments dollar for dollar. I also try to create a pleasant work environment, and the company buys lunch for all employees every month.

I do these things because I care about my employees and my customers, and I hope they feel the same.

Unfortunately, all of the above doesn’t safeguard a small business owner from staffing concerns. My “right hand woman” unexpectedly left Crown for a slightly better paying job in another industry in August. I’d come to rely on her and had spent quite a bit of time and energy molding her for a career position, so it felt like a kick in the gut. It had me wondering if I’d made a mistake investing so much in her. I sought advice from a trusted consultant in the industry, who reassured me: quality employees are important for great customer service. From this experience, I’ve become a bit wiser about what makes a good employee and when development is appropriate. I’m happy to say I’ve found a great replacement for that particular […]

By |November 25th, 2015|Crown News|Comments Off on Finding and Keeping Quality Employees

Take an Employee Fishing:

One Perk of Being a Small Business Owner

For the past three years, Crown Cleaners has sponsored a boat in the annual Bill Williams Fishing Tournament. The event is a charity tournament, and this year proceeds benefitted Friends of Tennessee’s Babies with Special Needs, Boy Scouts of America and the Cerebral Palsy Center. It’s presented by the Greater Knoxville Sertoma Club, of which I’m a member, and is always held the last Saturday of March.

Crown’s sponsoring started when Bill Freeman, a customer, came in with fishing apparel. We struck up a conversation about the sport, and I offered to sponsor him in exchange for taking me along that first year. It was very interesting. Each boat is allowed to have up to two fishermen, so he was the experienced one and I was the novice.

This year, I bowed out of being Bill’s partner after I noticed one of my employees, Cat Bennewise, had fishing poles in her car. I asked if she’d be interested in partnering with Bill, and she was. As it turns out, she caught more fish than he did, but who’s keeping track? (Crown: 1, Bill: 0.) There was a lot of competition this year – 73 boats entered the tournament – and Bill and Cat didn’t place in the top ten. But from the sound of it, they had a wonderful day out on the lake. Look at the smile on her face! I love that owning a small business allows me to provide a customer and an employee such experiences while supporting a great charity event.




By |June 23rd, 2015|Community|Comments Off on Take an Employee Fishing:

Yes, There’s an App for That!

I embrace technology. More often than not, technological advances improve our lives, sometimes by making a difficult task easier, other times by keeping us connected. Crown Cleaners uses modern technology in a number of ways to create a better experience for our customers.
Our most recent technological addition to the company is the Crown Cleaners app, available on iTunes and Google Play Store. This free app provides important information and it saves you money. Customers who download it will be able to learn more about our Pick-up and Delivery Service, have access to coupons, monthly specials, store information, and receive notifications about unexpected events, such as closures due to weather. What I really love about this app is its built-in rewards program. The more you use it, the more money you’ll save!

About 300 customers downloaded the app in its first 60 days, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Finding the app is easy. Just search for Crown Cleaners on your Apple or Android devices. For more information about it, visit the iTunes description page.
The app isn’t the only way Crown Cleaners utilizes technology. We also use an industry-specific point of sale system, designed to capture the minute details of the service you need. For example, when a customer brings in an item for cleaning, our POS can capture what kind of item it is as well as its fiber content, color, brand and if there is a stain that needs to be addressed. In addition, each article of clothing is barcoded to create a sophisticated tracking system. This means fewer missing pieces! The barcode also creates a historical record for each item, allowing us to better care for your garments. […]

By |May 1st, 2015|Crown News, Services|Comments Off on Yes, There’s an App for That!

Abandoned Items: Bad for Business, Good for the Community

One of the challenges of owning a dry cleaning business is dealing with dozens and dozens of abandoned items each year. It’s not unusual for a certain amount of ties, button-up shirts, expensive suits, and even wedding dresses to hang on the racks for months without being picked up. Sometimes it happens because the owner has moved. Other times (s)he simply forgot about the garment. Or, sadly, our customer has passed away. Whatever the reason, abandoned items tend to accumulate in this business if they’re not addressed.

So where do all of those clothes and household items, such as comforters, go? They’re almost always donated, but only after the item has been left for at least 30 days and after several attempts have been made to contact the owner. Over several weeks, we make phone calls, send emails, and mail postcards asking that the item(s) be picked up and providing notification that the property will be disposed of if no response is received. After we have exhausted all methods of contacting an owner, our employees have the option of purchasing the item at cost of the dry cleaning bill. This might take care of a few items each year, but not many. Everything else is donated to a variety of organizations, including Goodwill and Ladies of Charity off Baxter Ave. Sometimes a small production company stops by and requests clothing donations, which will be turned into costumes for an upcoming performance. Sometimes a local restaurant will ask for white button-up shirts for their new wait staff. Abandoned property is NEVER thrown out. We do our best to find homes for anything that isn’t picked up.

The loss in sales for this abandoned property averages to be […]

By |March 12th, 2015|Community, Crown News|Comments Off on Abandoned Items: Bad for Business, Good for the Community

Theft, Breaking & Entering, and Vandalism

(aka The Trials and Tribulations of a Small Business Owner)

Crown Cleaners has been the target of a thief. Perhaps the same thief because each time the break-in is so similar.

The person or persons strike only after the store has closed and employees have left for the day. They seem to know exactly where the cash drawer is stored and take all the money that had been left for the next day. The vending machine is raided. If something of obvious value is nearby, such as a laptop, it will also be taken. To my great surprise, a bag of unopened candy was taken one time. The building is never trashed. And the equipment doesn’t appear to be touched. Each time, the only major damage sustained is a broken door and/or window so the criminal(s) can enter the closed store.

When I share these details with customers, friends, and family, everyone always asks the same question: “Why would someone break-in to a dry cleaner?”

To be honest, I’m not sure I understand it myself. It’s true dry cleaners used to deal in a lot of cash. But debit cards have dramatically reduced our number of cash transactions, so there is very little money on-site at any given time.

I am very grateful the break-ins are relatively minor in comparison to what some other small business owners have to deal with; however, there is a cost involved for both Crown Cleaners and the community. In addition to the monetary cost of replacing the cash and repairing or replacing the door and/or broken glass, there’s also a loss of many people’s time. I spend at least a couple of hours on various tasks each time this happens. Police officers are […]

By |December 3rd, 2014|Crown News|Comments Off on Theft, Breaking & Entering, and Vandalism

Tired of pancake breakfasts and car washes?

The kids are back in school, and for many families that means a sudden bombardment of fundraisers. Your evenings and weekends are filled with commitments such as attending (and maybe organizing) the football team’s pancake breakfast, selling coupon books to everyone you know, and scrubbing tires at the band’s car wash. As a father of school-aged children, I know how quickly these activities accumulate, eating up valuable family time and, quite often, money.

Did you know Crown Cleaners offers an easy way to donate funds to your favorite program?

Crown for the Classroom is a fundraising alternative that requires little additional investment of your time or money. The program is a way for me to partner with local schools and organizations, but it also allows our customers to “give back” to their favorite school, club, or nonprofit. All you have to do is submit the completed form in this brochure to either Crown Cleaners locations, and we’ll donate 5% of all of your pre-tax sales to your school or organization. Important things to note:

1. The sooner you sign up, the sooner funds begin to accrue and more money will be donated! Completed forms need to be submitted when you drop off your dry cleaning in order for that particular transaction to be included in the donation. Previous transactions are not included in the donation, so be sure to sign up at your next visit.

2. Customers who take advantage of our free pickup and delivery service can also participate in Crown for the Classroom.

3. Donations will be made at the end of every semester (or every 120 days if your funds are being donated to an organization that isn’t associated with a school).

4. Unlike other programs […]

By |October 3rd, 2014|Community|Comments Off on Tired of pancake breakfasts and car washes?

Crown Helps Your Kids Stay Active This Summer

Have you heard about the Kids Triple Crown Challenge?

It’s a triathlon series for kids in East Tennessee and is sponsored by Crown Cleaners. The first event, the Salamander Splash & Dash, was held June 21 at Knoxville’s Westside YMCA and was a great success! Seeing those kids’ faces when they crossed the finish line was inspirational! The above photo was taken at this event.

The remaining series events are the Sharks & Seals Kids Tri on July 19 at Springbrook Pool in Alcoa and the Dragonfly Kids Tri on August 16 at the Knoxville Racquet Club. For both events, late registration and check-in will start at 7 a.m. Kids between seven and ten years old will begin racing at 8:30 a.m., while kids between the ages of 11 and 15 will begin racing at 9 a.m. Awards will begin at 10 a.m.

Registration is $70. Athletes do not have to attend every event in order to participate and will receive a 22-ounce water bottle and a t-shirt with the series logo. At each event, racers also will receive race shirts and finisher medals.

This is a great opportunity to fight summer boredom and to try something new. Your child doesn’t have to be an amazing athlete to participate in a triathlon. As a former triathlete, I know from experience. Kids don’t have to be strong at all three components – swimming, biking and running – in order to do well because each one is just part of the overall race. Give it a shot!

If you’d like more information about Kids Triple Crown Challenge or want to register, visit racedayevents.net/events.

By |June 30th, 2014|Community|Comments Off on Crown Helps Your Kids Stay Active This Summer

What’s This Dry Cleaner Doing With a Llama?

Would you believe marketing?

There are traditional ways of advertising a small business such as television, radio, newspapers, and direct mail. Advertising on social media and other websites has become very common. But I want my money to do more than just market my business, so I keep my eyes open for ways it can make a difference at the same time. Recently, I was able to do both by sponsoring a llama in Knoxville’s first Great Llama Race, held at World’s Fair Park on Saturday, April 5.

The Great Llama Race was a fundraiser benefitting local schools, Southeast Llama Rescue, and Casa de Sara, a Knoxville non-profit that organized the event. Local celebrities were paired with a Knoxville school and a llama to form teams that raced against each other in heats. The event also included food, entertainers, crafts, games, and music. It was a lot of fun. More information about the race and Casa de Sara can be found at www.thegreatllamarace.com.

The Crown Cleaners Team didn’t win the race, but we had a great time while supporting a few good causes and spreading awareness of the business to an estimated 5,000 people. I call this a win-win-win situation, and I’d spend my marketing dollars on opportunities like this over traditional methods any day.

Community involvement is one of Crown Cleaners top priorities, and I thought The Great Llama Race was a chance to be part of something unique. We’ve sponsored plenty of teams in golf tournaments over the years, but never have we sponsored a team in a llama race. I loved the originality and synergy of this event, and the team is overflowing with creative ideas should Casa de Sara hold the event again.


By |April 24th, 2014|Community, Crown News|Comments Off on What’s This Dry Cleaner Doing With a Llama?

To Close, or Not to Close: Crown’s Inclement Weather Policy

Inclement weather causes problems for everybody. It’s not fun to slide up steep hills in the snow. And no one wants their automobile to be pocked with dents from a hail storm. But only recently did I understand such weather conditions present unique problems for small business owners like myself.

This realization came to me during Knoxville’s last major snow event. I had to decide whether Crown Cleaners would remain open despite the 6” of snow or close our doors until the roads were clearer. There were many factors to consider: the safety of my employees, the safety of my customers, the costs associated with closing during a normal business day, and the cost of remaining open when dry cleaning was probably the last thing on people’s minds. Closing, unfortunately, also meant customers who needed to pick up their garments would be unable to do so.

Ultimately, I decided to close for the entire day. But something unexpected happen. Unlike the previous snowfall, which stuck to the roads for a few days, this snow melted quickly. The roads were nearly clear halfway through the day. I considered changing my decision and opening both stores for the afternoon and evening. In the end, it didn’t feel right to request my employees, who had been told to take the day off, to come in to work. It was better that they, and myself, enjoy this extra time with our families.

Now, if Crown Cleaners was the Wal-Mart of the dry cleaning world, this snow wouldn’t have been an issue. We would have a large enough employee pool to draw from that someone would have been able to make it in. We could afford to stay open even if a […]

By |February 20th, 2014|Crown News|Comments Off on To Close, or Not to Close: Crown’s Inclement Weather Policy