If you’ve got a route, you know when a customer is not giving you their dry cleaning. At your counter, it’s a little trickier.
The ideas I’m going to discuss here will help you keep more of those customers that first joined your route or entered your store.
Wonderful Idea #8. Understanding The Importance of Exceeding Your Customers Expectations. When Member Stephen Moore gets a new customer, a bunch of activity starts immediately.
He’s alerted by text when a customer signs up through his website. They get a call within 5 minutes. Stephen says, “They all say the same thing, ‘Wow, that was fast.’ This sets the tone immediately, which is exactly what we want to happen.”
That same day, a New Customer Kit is delivered. Inside the kit is our Welcome Letter, our latest Newsletter, two bags, a pen and a few other little things.
Stephen goes on to say, “So instead of telling them, ‘Hey, let us know when you’re ready for your first pick-up, we’re saying, we are looking for your first order. It’s a lot easier for them because the trick is we want them to use the delivery service and having it instantly, looks like we have our act together. It also helps that most cleaners suck at this—they’re expecting bad customer service, so it’s really easy to surprise them with good service.”
This is one way to exceed your customer’s expectations.
Wonderful Idea #9. Say Please and Thank You. I know this sounds very, very basic, but it’s the foundation of all excellent customer service. I live in the north in Rochester, NY. I spend the winters in Florida. I’ve found that the southerners are generally more polite than northerners. I’m sure it’s from their upbringing. A southerner can “nice” you to death and there’s nothing you can do but succumb to their wishes.
Hire polite people. Hire respectful people. You can’t teach this skill. Either their parents taught them or they didn’t.
In a few of my past businesses, I hired some of my employees in a group setting. I’d invite in several candidates and give my hiring shtick to all of them at the same time. We watched how each one of the candidates acted when one of them was talking. You can tell a lot about someone by just watching his or her body language and facial expressions. We were looking for nice people and this gave us a chance to figure that out.
So hire people who were taught to say “please and thank you.”
Wonderful Idea #10. Call People By Their Names. Hearing your name is one of the sweetest sounds you can hear. It’s so wonderful to walk into a business and be called by your name. It makes you feel like you belong. This is NOT a born-with skill. It is a learned skill. Some of your employees will do it automatically, some will not. You MUST instill this in them. And it starts with you. If you don’t remember names, here is a simple way you can. When you’re introduced, use their name at least two times in your conversation. And then as soon as you can, go write it down. The act of writing it will help you remember it.
Wonderful Idea #11. Exceed Your Customers Expectations With Extra Value. When you hear about value, certain products come to mind like Kirby Vacuum Cleaners. Most are still sucking as strong as ever even after 15 years of cleaning dirty carpets. How about Honda’s that have over 300,000 miles on them and they’re still humming along.
We don’t have 20 years to prove our dry cleaning value, but there are some things you and I can do to increase the perceived value of cleaning dirty clothes.
Packaging. You can add value by adding collar stays, plastic recyclable hangers, tissue and a bunch of other things.
Guarantees That You Can Stand By. Most of my members have a “Broken-Button” Guarantee. If you find a broken button, we’ll give you five dollars! You might be saying to yourself, “I can’t do that, I’d lose a fortune.” If that is what you think, you’ve got broken buttons everywhere and you’re losing a fortune anyway because your losing tons of customers without even knowing it.
If you think about it, the “Broken-Button” Guarantee is for you! That’s right. You will find out when buttons are breaking in your plant and you can put a stop to it. Will $20 in broken button fees break the bank? I don’t think so. But for $20 you can find out that you’ve got a BIG problem that needs fixing.
Often you build customer loyalty by reminding them of the value they are receiving. For example, a monthly newsletter can do this. Most of my members send out a newsletter that we produce for them. What other dry cleaner in your town sends out a newsletter? Fat chance of that happening. Your newsletter will build loyalty (and get you a ton of referrals)
Wonderful Idea #12. Exceed Customers Expectations With Add-On’s. What add-on product or service can you give (or sell) your customers? “Freebies” are nice, but people will also appreciate appropriate add-on sales. In my dry cleaning business, I rent Rug Doctors. Our advantage is that we pick-up and deliver it. It’s no biggie for us because we do it when we’re on the route. We came up with a price that includes all the chemicals you’ll need while cleaning your rug.
I also have a direct mail program that gives away the rental of the Rug Doctor if they sign up for our route service. This gets lots of calls. About 1 in 5 are doing it just for the rental, but that’s not too bad. We still get $25 for the chemicals and still make some money on it.
Could you repair and shine shoes? How about cleaning houses (we do that too)? Carpet cleaning? Duct cleaning? Wash and Fold? Some of these things might not make you lots of money and might be a pain-in-the-neck, but they endear your customers to you. These are reasons to stay with you when you screw up so they don’t jump ship.
Come up with some add-ons and get to it.
Wonderful Idea #13. Reassure Your Customer’s Decision To Do Business With You. Buyers’ remorse can set in pretty fast, especially when people make a fast decision to try you out. You’ve really got to look at 90 days as a try out for ALL your new customers.
My members send out a hand-written thank you note right away. They also send out a formal “Welcome Letter” within a couple of days. A copy of that same letter goes out in an email. My route manager calls and welcomes our new customers ASAP.
This all happens within 4-5 days. How do you think this makes your new customer feel? Does it reassure them about doing business with you? You bet it does.
Most dry cleaners don’t do a thing. They sign them up and forget them. You do a few of these and you’re a superstar!
Wonderful Idea #14. Stay In Touch. We just talked about what to do when a new customers signs on, but what about on a monthly basis? I recommend that you call your route customers every week with those automatic calls. Give them the opportunity to opt-out and only 10% will. Don’t make that decision for them by not calling them because you don’t like robocalls. I don’t like them either. Let your customers decide. And it’ll increase your volume by up to 21%.
I’d also send an email a week. The first email can be a cleaning tip and your specials for the month. Your second email could be a cleaning tip and asking for referrals. The third email can be your newsletter (snail mail one too). And the fourth email can be an offer of one or all of your other services like the Rug Doctor Rental, Carpet Cleaning, House Cleaning or whatever you’ve got. That’s what I do. And as always, you give them the option to opt-out—less than 5% of mine do.
Well, you’ve got some work ahead of you. Go to it!!