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Ever held off on purchasing a garment because the "Dry Clean Only" tag scared you? Between the cost of cleaning a silk blouse or wool sweater and actually getting to the dry cleaners during their business hours, that piece you're coveting might not be worth the maintenance.
Enter FlyCleaners, an app based out of Brooklyn that's looking to alleviate these problems with the dry-cleaning business model. From on-demand delivery to a simplified price scale, co-founder David Salama has thought of just about everything to make dry cleaning as hassle-free as possible for the customer.
The idea for FlyCleaners actually came from Salama's friend, Seth Berkowitz, who's best known for founding Insomnia Cookies. "He's created this business that really is focused around the customer—giving people exactly what they want, when they want it, how they want it," Salama explained to us over the phone recently.
But how do you go from cookies to cleaning clothes? When Berkowitz went to a dry cleaner's, "he felt like he was walking into the past." Unlike Insomnia Cookies, dry cleaners were all about the business owners and not the customer. "The hours were based upon what was convenient for the dry cleaner, and the customer service was terrible. The entire thing was a drag."
So Berkowitz and Salama, whose background is in technology, came together to figure out how to solve these issues. "We see companies taking technology and creating very customer-focused businesses, using technology as a tool to make that happen." And boom—FlyCleaners, which has been serving Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick for the past few months, was born.
Salama, at right, with a FlyCleaners van; Image via NY Daily News
Well, it took a little bit more time than that. First, they approached dry cleaning and laundering facilities in the outer boroughs—where most stores send what their customers bring in, since they don't clean on the premises—and asked to be added to the mix. "In fact, they actually liked us because we had our own trucks," he said, which eliminated the need for pick-up and delivery.
Then they went about figuring out how to best serve the customer, and that meant offering both pre-scheduled and on-demand pick-up and dropoff seven days a week, from 6am to midnight. "It just doesn't make sense to be off when people are often able to deal with this type of stuff," Salama said.
For example: If a customer is leaving for work at 8:15am, she can schedule a Fly Guy (yup, that's what they call their delivery guys) to come between 7am and 8am to pick up her "convertible garment bag" that the company offers. Then after a day of work and an evening at the gym or a company happy hour, she can come home, open the app, and see how long it would take for someone to drop off her stuff at that instant.
"You hit that button, and you can basically track us in real time," Salama said. "So if we get stuck behind a sanitation truck or something, and we lost five minutes, you'll see that there. If we catch three green lights in a row up Sixth Avenue, then you'll see the number go down by five minutes."
The "Hamper;" Image via Flycleaners
If that's not simple enough, their pricing structure lets you know exactly what you'll pay for each garment, a luxury not afforded at most dry cleaning businesses. When you're detailing the items that need cleaning, you simply drop them into a virtual "hamper."
"It's 99 cents a pound for wash and fold"—yes, there's wash and fold, too!—"and $1.99 for laundering and pressing dress shirts," Salama said. "Then in the $3.99 price hampers, we include scarves, ties and all [other] shirts. $5.99 would be things like sweaters, pants, skirts, basic jackets, or sport jackets, and then the $9.99 hamper is for your basic dress or suits."
If you compare those prices to the neighborhood dry cleaners in Manhattan, it's actually extremely, extremely competitive pricing," he added. There's also no fee involved for using the app or the delivery service.
And speaking of Manhattan, FlyCleaners is launching in a few of the borough's neighborhoods next month—specifically, Flatiron, Union Square, and "east of Washington Square Park," Salama said. "It's a gradual rollout. We don't want to overextend ourselves because we want to keep the waiting times down."
"We're going to just grow out from there to Midtown East, Midtown West, and then also the Lower East Side and Tribeca. We expect to be in all of Manhattan, from FiDi to Inwood, in six to twelve months," he said. Check out their website at the link below for more information.
· FlyCleaners [Official website]
· The UES Just Got a High-Tech Drop-Off Locker Service [Racked NY]