ZIPS Dry Cleaners CEO Talks Brand Expansion
Backed by strong leadership and a winning blueprint for success, ZIPS Dry Cleaners is poised to become a nationally known brand through its same-day, one-price business model and strategic franchising.
Greenbelt, Maryland-based ZIPS, with 54 stores in six states and 200 stores in the pipeline, has been busy refining and scaling operations under the direction of new CEO Andrew Ritger Jr., a proven franchise leader with over 22 years of development experience at Sonic Corp.
We checked in with Ritger to get his take on the state of the ZIPS brand and an update on expansion.
You have been on board since Dec. 1. What have you been doing internally since taking over the helm as you get set to grow as a national brand?
We have spent the last few months aligning our development strategy to ensure we have a solid plan in place for market selection and how these markets will optimize our growth. This includes revamping the franchise sales process, so that the strongest possible franchise candidates are entering our system. Considerable time has been spent reevaluating training support to ensure strength in teaching the dry cleaning business operationally--the "ZIPS Way." We are also building up our marketing efforts to bolster support for new investment in each trade area.
ZIPS is a proven business proposition with an excellent consumer offer. All these changes will ensure we have a winning financial model that delivers on our consumer promise and maximizes the return on investment for our franchise partners, ultimately, making everyone at ZIPS happy with the results.
What is in store for ZIPS in 2018 and beyond?
ZIPS is well poised for growth. Margins are solid and the new markets have generally performed well. ZIPS is a force in the market through our production system and pricing. This enables ZIPS to increase growth in the near term and sustain that growth over the next ten years. We can see the day, in the not so distant future, when 1,000 ZIPS locations will be serving our consumers nationally.
You bring a wealth of brand-building experience to ZIPS. In what ways are you looking to improve operations?
ZIPS is a high-volume concept that generates significant value to consumers and returns to our operators. That being said, we need to continue to improve service and eliminate any barriers to using the brand.
A faster consumer experience--mobile applications that allow payment, ordering, pick up, rewards, and customer transactional history--will benefit guests and improve investment margins. We also need to continue to innovate our production process to reduce costs and increase quality and capacity. These refinements are designed to improve guest satisfaction and boost the bottom line. ZIPS is known for innovation and we believe increased innovation in the business is our path to success!
Why is ZIPS such a strong investment?
I can't say it enough. The brand is simply a tremendous value to consumers and investors. ZIPS provides a high-quality product that can save consumers as much as 60 percent per transaction. We have cleaned over a quarter of a billon garments and saved our guests close to $1 billion dollars. The ZIPS system is designed to manage this volume profitably and the savings are incredible to consumers. This powerful combination of much above industry sales and high volumes creates a strong financial model that is a solid franchise investment.
Can you talk about your role as a franchisor to support the success of your franchise partners as they carry out the vision of the ZIPS brand?
We ultimately are a franchising business supporting franchisees as they continue to build a great brand. We are garment care professionals. Our job is to provide unparalleled support to our franchisees, build a valuable brand, and ensure that they have a great opportunity to have a successful business as a result. This requires us to challenge ourselves every day to think about how we can provide tools to our franchisees that improve the consumer experience, make us relevant to our guests, and be innovative in the outlook of servicing the business and ensuring profits for our operators.