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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Meet Bryan Cabler

I find myself sometimes being surprised by folks.  Not in a bad way.  It’s just that when you work with someone, and that someone is at a different location than you so most of your interaction is business related and telephone based, you really don’t get to know them that well.  As I interviewed Bryan Cabler, Manager of the A Cleaner World at Golden Gate in Greensboro, for this blog and got to know him a bit better, I found that we like lots of the same things.  So normally when I profile a manager, I paraphrase the answers to my questions and try to tell their story.  But Bryan tells his own story way better than I would.  Here are a few questions I recently asked him:

How long have you been in the business and how long with A Cleaner World?

This year is my fourteenth in the dry cleaning business. I worked for Chapel Hill-based Carolina Cleaners for several years prior to that company being acquired by A Cleaner World in 2008-- my official first day with ACW was coincidentally my birthday also, July 12.

How did you get started and what keeps you going?

When I first got into this industry, it was as a counter clerk. I'd had a long history at that point in counter sales; I'd worked for businesses my family owned and always loved being around a business environment as a kid growing up in Alabama. When I moved to North Carolina, one of the first job openings I saw advertised was a CSR position for a dry cleaning store, and I felt at home right away because the focus of that job was simply knowing the customers, giving prompt service, and being organized-- all of which were things I'd been doing as long as I could remember.

Tell us a bit about yourself - family, likes, and hobbies.

My wife, Wendy, and I recently celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary. She's a first-grade teacher who loves nothing more than hanging out with a roomful of rowdy six-year-olds. We have an English springer spaniel, Abbey, as well as whichever creatures Wendy brings home from her classroom for holidays and summer break-- those have included everything from lizards to fish to a Praying Mantis, Monty, who I admit was fascinating to have around. We like to play chess, search for the mythical perfect restaurant, and endlessly discuss American history. I also play guitar and read a lot, and tend to my collection of MP3s, which runs to around 30,000 songs (including almost every popular recording of my favorite decade, the 1960's, although I wasn't born until 1974).

Given how long you've been in the business, I'm guessing you have a number of instances.  But can you share a couple occasions when you went above and beyond for a customer and really blew them away?

It's always nice when you can completely exceed a customer's expectations. I've had cases where someone needed something cleaned and pressed inside an hour, and, 'oh, by the way, there's a huge food stain on the front', and been able to deliver, which requires a lot of things to go exactly right. I also have a good memory for names and faces, so I pretty quickly learn who new customers are. There are times when I can tell by the way a customer pulls into the parking lot that he or she is in a huge hurry, and we'll have an 'all hands on deck' moment: by the time the customer is in the lobby, we've got his clothes hanging at the counter, his order pulled up on the computer, and he's on his way in record time.

What do you like most about what you do?

I really enjoy both people and details, so I'm really in the perfect business. I supervise eight or nine great employees, some of whom have worked in this very building for nearly twenty years and some of whom are college students. I'd say I have a minimum of fifty interactions with individual customers each day-- often more-- and I enjoy each one of those. Managing a dry cleaning shop is the ultimate multi-tasking experience: in the space of five minutes, I might start a load of dry cleaning, wait on a drive-thru customer, touch up a shirt collar, answer a series of detailed questions about wedding gown preservation on the phone, and settle a dispute over what we're going to order for lunch.

What tips and advice can you provide to customers so that their garments always look their best?

My biggest tip is to handle your garments with care; a lot of garments I see show signs of being handled carelessly by their owners. Some men have a habit of yanking dress shirts over their head, undoing the minimum number of buttons to get out of the thing, and causing unnecessary damage. It’s important to unbutton those cuffs before you pull your hand out. Also, putting a jumbled handful of hangers into your express bag with silk blouses is mighty risky. I'm thrilled when people recycle our packaging materials, but please let us give you a free hanger caddy to put them in.

I’m so glad I got the chance to interview Bryan.  I already knew that he was detail-oriented and that he could remove a wide variety of stains from my child’s clothing.  Now I am excited to also know that he too loves 1960’s music, American history, and is a foodie!  Most important for you, you can see that he knows what he’s doing, he likes what he’s doing, and he wants you to leave his store happy.

To visit Bryan or any one of our other great managers, here’s a link so you can find the A Cleaner World closest to you.

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