Bringing Innovation to the Dry Cleaning Industry
Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email email@example.com.
Hector Di Bonaventura is a major critic of his own industry. Di Bonaventura says that the dry cleaning industry in the U.S. is filled with outdated businesses that fail customers again and again. However, for Di Bonaventura, this failure is an opportunity. As an Oxxo Care Cleaners franchisee, he says he has the chance to provide an ecofriendly and convenient alternative to the average dry cleaner. Here's what Di Bonaventura has learned over the last year as a franchisee.
Name: Hector Di Bonaventura
Three Oxxo Care Cleaners in Miami, Fla.
How long have you owned a franchise?
I’ve always learned that proven business concepts allow owners to expand and grow faster than most startups. Franchising was the perfect fit for me to learn an industry and grow with the support of a franchisor that is looking after the brand and most important provide support to my team.
Related: My Franchise Is Like My Second Child
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I’m 28 years old with an engineering degree and MBA. I was working at Bloomberg LP in New York doing business development for Miami and South America.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
The dry cleaning industry in the U.S. hasn’t changed in years. This franchise offers unique 24/7 pick-up and drop-off technology with a European-looking boutique store, allowing us to differentiate ourselves from most cleaners. This franchise offers the ecofriendly and convenience aspect of an industry that doesn’t have an 800-pound gorilla. This allows us to compete with mainly mom-and-pops marketing dollars, so we see an opportunity to build brand awareness in the industry.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
I spent close to $750,000 for all three stores. That includes a boutique retail plant and two drop stores-- all three in prime locations in Miami. The breakdown is:
- $450,000 in equipment
- $60,000 in franchise fees
- $180,000 in leasehold improvements
- $15,000 in inventory
- $50,000 in working capital
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
Business consultants, current franchisees, lawyers and friends.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Hiring was the most challenging task I had. I was going to start with three stores at once and I needed an experienced manager and staff to cover most of the operations roles.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Do your research before buying a franchise and talk to as many franchisees as possible. Learn the ins and outs of the industry so you understand your value proposition and learn how to grow with the franchise from day one. I avoided making some mistakes by speaking to franchisees already in the system. This not only saves you time, but also money.
What’s next for you and your business?
I’m looking to develop the Tampa Bay area and open Oxxo Care Cleaners in a market that is full of old-looking and toxic cleaners.