LaFrance Goes Back to Its Roots to Survive Pandemic

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – With more people than ever avoiding the office, LaFrance Cleaners has had to adjust its business model to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every day has been causal dress day during the pandemic lockdown,” says President Stephen Weiss in a statement. “People just aren’t doing as much dry cleaning as they would normally do, so we had to think fast and work hard to make things work.”

To adapt, the third-generation company has focused on its core services.

Since LaFrance was founded more than 70 years ago, it has offered free pick-up and delivery, a service that has become invaluable as people look to avoid unnecessary trips during the coronavirus outbreak.

LaFrance’s wash and fold service has also been a staple since the beginning, and with parents, in many cases, both working from home and overseeing their kids’ education, taking laundry off the list of chores has been valuable for customers, Weiss says.

Overall, he continues, the company has seen an uptick in new customers, thanks to investments in digital advertising and search engine optimization over the past year and a half. As a result, LaFrance has kept almost all his staff employed and limited business losses.

Initially, all four LaFrance sites were reduce to operating two days a week, though the Boardman site at the corner of U.S. Route 224 and West Boulevard has recently reopened as its layout allows staff and customers to properly follow safety measures.

New measures at the store include the addition of shields at the front counter, employees wearing gloves and masks and the availability of hand sanitizer on-site, on deliveries and for curbside pick-up and drop-off.

Still, Weiss says LaFrance isn’t entirely in the clear just yet.

“I cannot say what will happen next week,” he says. “We are constantly evaluating the situation as it develops to make further decisions.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.