Inspecting leathers and suedes at the counter when they come in for cleaning is probably the most valuable time spent in any counter transaction. A great deal of customer dissatisfaction can be avoided by imparting a little knowledge to the customer of what to expect after their garment is cleaned. Otherwise, they are likely to yell, “What have you done to my beautiful suede? It doesn’t look the same!”
First, make sure all corresponding pieces of a matching ensemble are checked in for cleaning at the same time. At the counter, a visual inspection should point out any stains, discolorations, color variations, oxidation from light exposure, wrinkles, skin defects, tears or weak areas. All of these conditions should be pointed out to the customer, as well as noted on the invoice.
Although cleaning does not originate most of these problems, it can disturb some of the original dyes and tanning liqueurs, so objectionable conditions can be much more noticeable after cleaning. It will also be helpful to inform the customer of the fact that leather garments are constructed from skins of different animals or even from various portions of the same animal. These skin panels may react differently to leather cleaning, so be prepared to see some variations in shade from the original after cleaning. It is important to note that the customer believes that his or her leather garment will clean just as easily as their fabric clothes without any noticeable difference after cleaning. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, so the owner of the leather item should be expertly informed prior to care that there may be some variance from the original condition after even the most careful cleaning procedure. Well-trained counter sales personnel can eliminate most customer complaints by eliminating the “surprise” issue.