Immigrant Business Statistics: Name: Nadir. Country of Origin: Turkey. Immigrated to US: 1996; Business name: Green Branch Cleaners. Location: Branchburg, NJ. Launched: 2014. Annual Revenue: $200,000.
How an immigrant family in New Jersey took the classic route to the American Dream, working long hours, saving their money so they could buy their own business, and then pulled together to make it a success.
Twenty years ago, the Nadir family immigrated from the United States from Turkey to start their lives over. “We had nothing,” recalls their son Mehmet, now 27. “Just two suitcases and $500.” Like generations of immigrants before them, Mehmet’s father Niyazi, and mother, Nilgun, worked long hours to support the family.They could not afford to launch their own business, but they saved their money, believing their day would come. Two years ago, they heard about a dry-cleaning store up for sale, and as a family they decided this was their son Mehmet’s chance to build a career.
Mehmet recalls, “I had been saving up, and with the help of my family —both my mom and dad — we were able to buy it , just like that.” He added with pride, “We didn’t have to take out any loans to do it, either.”
Working Together for the American Dream
From the first, the Nadirs decided that this would be a family business. Mehmet had wanted to run his own business since childhood, and had studied business in college, so he was the natural choice to run the business day-to-day. Mehmet’s mother Nilgun volunteered to work on site with her son, handing repairs and tailoring, while Mehmet’s father handled the dry-cleaning at another facility where he was employed as a manager. Even Mehmet’s sister Ayse pitched in, working in the store after school and on Saturdays.
Customer Focus: Competitive Pricing and the Personal Touch
Developing the business as a family allowed the Nadir’s to control costs, and beat the competition on pricing. However, building a customer base requires more than just good prices. What keeps people coming back is the personal touch, feeling that you’re being taken care of.
“Family businesses tend to appreciate their customers more than Fortune 500 companies,” says Mehmet. “I know 90% of my customers’ names before they even step up to the counter, and they appreciate that.” Mehmet stresses that he likes interacting with people. “I love it,” he says. “When I notice a customer is having a bad day – I try to make their day a little bit better, so when they go home, they have a smile on their face.”
Family businesses tend to appreciate their customers more than Fortune 500 companies. I know 90% of my customers’ names before they even step up to the counter, and they appreciate that. — Mehmet Nadir
The Nadirs also offer their customers convenience. The store is located right inside a ShopRite supermarket, which allows customers to do their marketing while Mrs. Nadir does custom tailoring for them. The store also handles specialty services such as shoe repair, and leather and suede treatment, and they do home delivery at no extra charge. As Mehmet tells his customers, “You name it, and I get it done for you. No ifs and no buts.”
Winning Combination: Brand Building and Family Work Ethic
“When we first bought this place it was – I don’t want to say it was empty, but I brought the business up so much more —to the point now that we don’t have any room left in the store whatsoever, “ says Mehmet.
Owning a home and owning a business is the American dream. I got the first part down of the American dream – now onto the second dream. — Mehmet Nadir
No doubt about it, the Nadir’s family’s hard work has turned the dry-cleaning store around, but Mehmet has put his business education to good use as well, employing social media presence, including Google, Facebook and Yelp, and creating a contemporary brand for the business that reflects consumers growing concern over the environment and their exposure to harsh chemicals. He changed the name of the store to “Green Branch Cleaners” to combine his location – Branchburg, New Jersey – with his commitment to an organic dry cleaning process that uses only organic compounds. ” A lot of more people will definitely come to an organic dry cleaner versus a non-organic dry cleaner,” says Mehmet.
Mehmet’s Prize Possession: the NV 1500
Mehmet also uses his Nissan 1500 cargo van as part of his advertising campaign. After he purchased the van, he had a wrap done on the vehicle which advertises his business when he’s out in the community making home deliveries. “All the signs have my name, my phone number, the services we offer, and our address, including that we’re inside Shop-Rite in Branchburg so new customers will find it easy to find us.”
You really can’t go wrong with an NV1500. I’ve actually recommended it to different dry cleaners in the area.
Of course the NV 1500 is more than just a rolling billboard; it’s the most important purchase he’s made according to Mehmet. “It’s absolutely phenomenal,” says Mehmet. “It’s so smooth on the road, and the space is fantastic. I was able to put three racks in the cargo area so that I’ll be able to handle more clients as I grow.”
The gas mileage on the NV 1500 has also been a nice surprise. He fills it up twice a week and drives about 80 miles a day on average. “The gas is just amazing,” he says. “You really can’t go wrong with an NV1500. I’ve actually recommended it to different dry cleaners in the area.”
Green Branch Cleaners and the Future
Even though it’s only two years old, Green Branch Cleaners is already profitable, and the Nadirs have begun planning for a second store. When that happens, Mehmet’s father, Niyazi will manage the new store, and Mehmet will finally hire someone from outside the family, and allow himself some social life. “Owning a home and owning a business is the American dream,” says Mehmet. “I got the first part down of the American dream – now onto the second dream.”
- Success Requires Sacrifice: “Working 11 hour days has been hard. When you’re 25 years old and own a business, social life goes out the window.”
- Customer Loyalty Requires the Personal Touch. “Customers like to see the motivation. There’s a difference between an owner greeting a customer and an employee greeting a customers.”
- You Can’t Do Everything Yourself. “I would like to hire someone else to work in the store to give me more time to find new customers.”