Dry-Cleaning Franchise Bets Low Cost Will Mean High Volume

Small Business Spotlight: ZIPS, @ZipsDryCleaners

Who: Reid Bechtle

What: A dry-cleaning franchise

When: 1999

Where: Greenbelt, Maryland

How: CEO Reid Bechtle says the concept for ZIPS is based on a simple concept: Every garment dry-cleaned is $1.99 or less. “We don’t charge anything extra to clean women’s clothes,” says Bechtle, differentiating ZIPS shops from traditional drycleaners.

“The question is: Are we charging too little or are they charging too much?” asks Bechtle.

ZIPS, which was founded in 1999 by a group of seven founders, now has 36 locations cleaning in excess of 20 million garments annually.

Biggest challenge: Bechtle says the company is trying to balance the demand for new franchises with the ability to support them. Recently they had inquiries from franchisors in California, but Bechtle says ZIPS is committed to expanding closer to home first before going bi-coastal.

One moment in time: “What I’m most proud of is working with the group of founders who started this company. They’re by far the most competent, nice folks who want to do the right thing,” says Bechtle, who was brought on as CEO in April.

Best business advice: “Take care of the customer first,” says Bechtle.