Myrtle Beach dry cleaner delivers a pick-me-up

For Weekly SurgeJuly 30, 2013 

Brad Hardison: Freeing Up Your Busy Day

Brad Hardison’s work van might be one of the most recognizable vehicles on the Grand Strand. The van in question is emblazoned with his likeness in vinyl and branded Brad’s Dry Cleaners [ www.bradsdrycleaners.com] – and in one glance gives us everything we need to know – including the promise, “Satisfaction guaranteed or it’s on me.”

The business model is simple – provide free pickup and next day delivery of dry cleaning and offer competitive pricing. Elegant in its simplicity.

Hardison, 33, originally from Dunn, N.C., says he has been coming to the Myrtle Beach area since he was a year old. In 2011, he relocated here permanently – in tandem with his father’s decision to relocate here. His father, attorney Ken Hardison, took a step back from the day-to-day running of his personal injury law firm, Hardison & Cochran, in Raleigh.

Looking to fill a niche, Hardison surveyed the landscape for what was missing. “Things don't always happen fast enough for some people down at the beach,” he says. “As a one-man business, there was a massive opportunity here that I could fulfill – giving people great service with free pickup and delivery.”

Add Hardison’s love for people and their stories and you have a gem – relationship building, one customer at a time.

“I’ll walk up and talk to anybody,” he says. “I’ll start getting their stories, and I’ve been doing that forever.”

Back to the van. What kind of reactions has it elicited?

“I’ve had people flash their lights and beep their horns, and I have pulled over to talk to them.”

One day, he got a phone call from a lady who was sitting in traffic behind his van. At first it was the graphics that drew her in, but when he pulled over, the conversation turned to dry cleaning. “I hooked up a customer just because she was behind me.”

Brad’s Dry Cleaners has no storefront, but because of a wholesale arrangement with a local dry cleaning facility, the enterprise has been working well for Hardison. “People think it’s going to be more expensive, but if you have the system right, it can be cheaper. And why would anyone want to run around town and sit in traffic?” The theory is that if time is money, it is better spent enlisting Hardison’s pick-up and delivery service and eliminating this task from already loaded to-do lists.

And Hardison is all about getting it right the first time. He learned from his father that it is a lot cheaper to keep existing clients than to recruit new ones. “It doesn’t take an awful lot to lose one if you screw it up. Delivery satisfaction is the most important thing. We will do the right thing even if it costs us money.”

Decompression time has included two staples for years – golf and karaoke.

“Sometimes I’ll go out to the beach,” he says. “I do karaoke [at Harry the Hats or Tavern in the Forest]. I like to play with my dog, and sometimes I’ll let her walk the golf course,” he says. “She’s a hunting dog so she likes to go out a lot. I just let her go and visit the wildlife.”

Hardison is focused on growing his business. “If it works out well, I plan on staying here for the rest of my life. If not, I might pursue something new. Or I might keep the business and let somebody else do my running for me. It all depends on how things go. It’s trial and error, basically.”

Know of a local with an interesting job or career that should be given the Working 4 A Living treatment? Contact Roger Yale at rgyale@gmail.com

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