I want to tell you a story.
It’s a story about a dry cleaner and a smile—the Sudsies’ Smile.
It’s about how kindness, service, and a smile can have a butterfly effect on the rest of the world around us, radiating outward to touch people we haven’t even met. It’s about how seemingly small things can really have a much bigger significance—like a comfortable golf shirt becoming a symbol for the time we spent with our son on the green, or how a favorite dress becomes a reminder of the first time we held our granddaughter and marveled at her darling face. It’s about how we should all hope to show up in this world, and about how we should all do our best to positively influence others in our daily lives.
What does this have to do with a dry cleaner, you might ask?
And the answer is everything.
I won’t lie. When I was first hired to write for Sudsies, I thought to myself, writing for a dry cleaner is simply about how they clean people’s clothes, right? Wrong.
From the moment I walked into my first Sudsies boutique, I understood that there is something different here. Something that every company on Earth needed to bottle up and study and replicate. There was something curiously special, something wonderfully contagious that touched every person and every item of clothing, including that golf shirt and that dress, that came through the doors.
The boutique was absolutely humming with happiness from the way I was greeted when I walked in, to the energy the valets had as they got into their vans to deliver clothes, to the way technicians were carefully caring for every garment with the utmost attention to detail—whether new or old, couture or big box, expensive or not.
The next Sudsies boutique I visited was exactly like it; they all replicated the positive energy of the company itself, and most of the employees that work there had been employed for years and even decades, because they knew this was the place they wanted to spend their careers. Some of them had even left temporarily just to discover what I was learning: There wasn’t another company out there with the same level of care and dedication. And they told me their stories of how they’d come back.
This was not your typical dry cleaner—I thought to myself—this was not your typical business at all.
How could a dry cleaner operate so differently from similar businesses?
It starts with the owner of Sudsies, Jason Loeb. He is ecstatic about providing excellent service, and his motto (and something he repeats several times a day) is:
“We are in the people business.”
It shows. He guides his team toward making sure every single guest has an incredible experience whether they show up in person, have a valet pick up their clothes, or if they drop them at one of Sudsies’ convenient 24-hour Automatic Dry Cleaning Machines (ADMs).
Jason cares how the guest is treated as much as he cares how the clothing is treated. And he makes sure this approach is consistent at every boutique and replicated by every employee. The Sudsies’ Smile, then, isn’t just a logo. It’s a way of life.
They say like attracts like, and it seems like Jason’s enthusiasm isn’t his alone. Every employee at Sudsies is what could be referred to as an “A-team player.” Everyone contributes to the overall feeling of eagerness to provide the best possible service; they remind each other daily through their words and actions about their shared mission.
And it’s not just me who recognizes this.
The first week I was there, we received several calls from happy guests who wanted to thank us for the way we handled the clothes (and really for the way we handled their business). I got the chance to talk to a few of them, and their stories are all similar. They wanted to thank us for the care of their important garments. They wanted to thank us for the level of service we provided, the cleanliness of their clothes, and for how different we were from other dry cleaners they’d done business with.
Michael Leake, a long-time Sudsies guest, has a son attending the University of Miami. He told me how his son had taken his clothes to a different dry cleaner only to have them returned with more stains than they started with. So Mr. Leake added his son’s clothes to his Sudsies garment bag, handed them to his valet, and was able to give them back to his son a couple of days later in excellent condition, sans stains.
But it’s more than that, Mr. Leake told me: “The level of service was impressive…the care of the products, the amount of time Sudsies takes to work on garments that may have a stain of some sort on it, the way the items are packaged and delivered…Sudsies has delivered excellent service every single time.”
Word about the care Sudsies provides seems to spread as quickly as the smile—Mr. Leake also told me, “The building that we live in had recommended Sudsies, and then when we were shopping, we were at Loro Piana, and they said please take all our clothes to Sudsies; we use Sudsies here in the store as well.”
“When you have a high-end vendor like Loro Piana that says we recommend Sudsies, that says a lot to me,” Mr. Leake said.
I’ve felt the effects of the Sudsies’ Smile, too.
Just a few days after I started work, I received a call from Jason. He was with Jerry Delince, Sudsies CMO, and they were on speaker. I expected them to give me instructions about something they wanted me to write.
Instead, Jason said: “This will only take a few seconds. I wanted to tell you to have a great day!” I laughed, they laughed, and I carried that smile for the rest of my day. I was spending it with my son, and he felt it, too. The smile had spread. These calls and check-ins are regular, welcomed reminders to all Jason’s employees about how much he values them.
The smiley face you see on every boutique and every van that carries the Sudsies name isn’t just a smile. It’s a representation of what the company and Jason hold important: An honest, true desire to make every person that comes in contact with them happy.
And if you’re still skeptical about the power of the smile and believe all dry cleaners are the same, take a moment to consider how important our clothing is to our identity, the way we represent ourselves in the world, and how we feel as we conduct our daily business.
Who handles that garment is very important.
If that’s the first item you put on in the morning, and it’s not only cleaned to a level of excellence, but you feel good about how your experience was as a customer, isn’t that how you want to start the day? And if your family, your friends, your concierge, and your household manager all have the same great experience with Sudsies, can you imagine the positive influence that starts to affect your entire community?
It means something.
The smiley face is more than just a logo. It’s the embodiment of every action Sudsies takes from start to finish to help their guests have a positive experience, and we hope they carry the Sudsies’ Smile forward into the rest of their day, and even the rest of their lives. We all are, as Jason reminds us, in the people business.