1st Class Cleaners is conquering the dry-cleaning business one customer at a time.
The journey started when she was just 15-years-old. Sharon Graham was looking for a job, any job. She wanted to work, but always had a knack for clothes.
“I went to university and high school in Irvine and I walked down to look for a job in the shopping center because I wasn’t driving, and I went into Albertsons and they didn’t want to hire me as a box girl so I got a job as a dry cleaner on campus,” she said.
First Class Cleaners has been delivering excellent quality dry cleaning for 35-years. It prides itself on providing professional and affordable dry cleaning services. Graham stands out as she looks to bring in more customers to her business. One of her promotions includes giving half off of dry cleaning to new customers when they come in and ask for her. Graham is authentic as she talks about wanting to please the customer and getting to know each one by name.
“I try to be on the counter as much as I can to get to know the new customers, to give them the customer service and introduce myself when they come in,” she added. “They love to hear that.”
First Class Cleaners handles many types of orders. There’s quite a laundry list! Organic laundry, clothes tailoring, leather work, shoe repair, dry cleaning, laundry, pressing, wedding dresses, and even hotel and valet service. That includes going to the customer’s house or place they are staying and picking up or dropping off an order for them.
“I get a lot of wedding dresses because I specialize in doing cleaning and preserving wedding dresses,” Graham said. “If they need their box cleaned and preserved, I do all of that. I have a great tailor, he does great alterations, and he does a fabulous job.”
Graham bought First Class Cleaners in 2000, but has been working in the dry cleaning business for 35-years. She stated that in the beginning; she had a lot of work to do to turn around First Class Cleaners. Graham recalls the business only having one dry cleaning presser. She has 20 employees working for her. Graham has always enjoyed dry cleaning, but she had to endure some tough years early on before she could become an owner.
Graham worked for multiple dry cleaners for about six years before finally deciding she needed to run one on her own. She recalls the people she worked for not being good leaders and inadvertently pushing her toward running her own business.
“At that point is when I decided to start my own business 19 years ago,” she recalled. “I always said you want to treat your employees with respect and honesty because they are the backbone of your business. They are there to help you.”
With First Class Cleaners, Graham likes be on the frontlines. She starts her day by coming into the dry cleaning business at 7 a.m. That is also when the business opens, and people can come into First Class Cleaners and either place an order, or pick up an order that is complete. Graham’s day usually ends around 6 p.m., and she heads home and prepares for another day. She works right alongside with her employees, doing everything she would ask of them.
“Lead with example, you get the same respect back with your employees,” Graham said. “One of my employees I have had for 15-years. They tell me that they love working for me. I treat people with respect, I don’t scream and yell at them. I always want to hear what’s good and bad so you could figure out how to make your business better,”
The goal for Graham is to always keep First Class Cleaners busy, with everyone employed. But she highlighted that being happy and healthy are the most important factors in life. She offered some advice to small business owners who were starting a business.
“Work hard,” Graham said. “If you’re not at your work and working side by side with your employees, you’re not going to do well.”
Come to First Class Cleaners for top-notch service and unique offerings!
Located at: 18120 Brookhurst St # 17, Fountain Valley, CA 92708 714-378-2799
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