You must master these skills. They can be learned. They have nothing to do with dry cleaning. Let’s get going.
Surprisingly, none of these skills have anything to do with how to press a shirt or how to fix one of your machines. In fact, if you know how to do these things and can’t resist jumping in, it’s hurting your business. My most successful members – 461 and counting – don’t get involved in the day-to-day of their dry cleaners, they don’t even have their offices in the plant. They focus on $50 an hour and up activities. Those are the ones we are going to talk about today.
Dry Cleaner Skill #1: Design Your Business Around Your Life. Not the other way around. Do not become a slave to your business. So how can you design your business around your life? You’ll have to become really good at a bunch of other skills, but it can be done. The first thing that you must do is to decide what that life is going to be. I’ve started 33 businesses in my lifetime, and this has always been a goal for me. After about business 12 or so I came up with some rules to follow when deciding what kind of businesses I should get into. Rule #1: The business could run without me there physically. I did not want to create a job for myself. And that’s what lots of dry cleaners have ended up doing to themselves. If you’re going to do that, you might as well just go work for someone. Rule #2: Had to be simple enough that an 18 year old could run it when I was gone. And Rule #3: It had to have a residual or repeat income. I’m happy to say that owning a dry cleaner follows all of these rules if you design it that way. My successful members, including myself, do what we want, when we want. I spend three months in Florida every year away from the cold.
You must have some strong goals to motivate yourself to build your business around your life. My first reason for doing this was prompted by watching the movie, “Dad.” In that movie, Ted Danson took off work for six months and took care of his sick dad. I wanted to be able to do that. And that’s just what happened to me. My dad got sick while he was spending the winter in Scottsdale, AZ. I flew down and took him to all his doctor’s appointments. He asked me when I was going home. I told him that I was staying until he was OK. And when he went in the hospital, I was there every day, all day, for two weeks. This would of not been possible if I was not in this business. My daughter is having a baby in October and she just asked me if I could come to Charlotte (I live in Rochester, NY) and watch the baby for a week or two when she starts back to work. Without even thinking about it, I said yes. I have set up my business around my life. It’s been this way for around 17 years now. To make this happen, you have to decide to do it. When you decide, you’ll start making decisions that will get you closer to your goal.
Dry Cleaner Skill #2: Direct Response Marketing. You’ve got to learn and take control of your advertising and learn how to get customers using “emotional direct response marketing.” Gone are the days when you build a store and customers come rushing in. There is way too much competition to do that anymore. You’ve got to realize that you’re really in the business of “marketing your dry cleaner,” NOT in the dry cleaning business. When you get that idea in your head, you’ll really start to grow your business. You’ve got to out fox your competitors and the only way to do that is to learn how to attract customers with Direct Response Marketing. So what is Direct Response Marketing? I’ll tell you what it’s not – it’s not image advertising. Direct Response Marketing is advertising that expects an immediate return. You mail out 1000 advertising pieces and you get 10 new route customers – that’s Direct Response Marketing. Advertising reps will tell you that you need to get your name out there and eventually people will join your route and come into your store. That’s bull$h!t! That’s not how it works in the real business world. When you advertise, you MUST expect an immediate return. If you don’t get a return, you test another ad.
My dry cleaning business is a marketing laboratory for my members. I’m always testing mailers, postcards, sales letters, bag drops and whatever else we come up with. There is no good or bad advertising medium. There are only advertising delivery systems. Val-Pak is neither good nor bad, it’s a delivery system. Same goes for mailers, postcards, newspapers, TV, radio and the Internet.
You’ve got to dive into Direct Response Marketing. I can’t teach it to you in this article. The best way I know how is to get some books from Dan Kennedy. A good start is going to Amazon and ordering his book, “The Ultimate Sales Letter” and you’ll learn a ton about Direct Response Marketing.
Dry Cleaner Skill #3: Learn Technology. You don’t have to master it. But you need a working knowledge of how it works. If you have trouble sending and receiving texts, you’re in trouble. If you do not have a smart phone, you’re in trouble. If you can’t go on Google and find something, you’re doomed! Now that I’ve terrified you, let me explain what I mean by learning the technology.
You should have an e-mail autoresponder. Once you capture a prospect’s name and e-mail, your autoresponder will e-mail them until they become a customer or they opt out. If you don’t use e-mail, you’re throwing away business. And once they become a customer, you’ve got to keep in contact with them and sell them more of what you’re selling. Go sign up for Constant Contact, Chimp Mail or Aweber and learn how to send out e-mails. They make it very easy to do now. If you know how to use Word, you can send out e-mails.
You or someone in your company should be writing a blog for your dry cleaners. The best blog to have should be set up by WordPress. My blog is connected to my website. If you can use Word, you can write a blog. If you do this correctly, you’ll get ranked on the first page of Google.
You should have a working knowledge of Google Places, Bing and Yahoo Local, and a bunch of the other sites that list your business. Just Google your dry cleaners and see what these are saying about you. Claim your business in all of these sites and the many more you’ll find and follow their directions to get listed. This is just a matter of digging around their sites and figuring out how to list your business.
If you have a route, you should be reminding them the night before of their pick-up. My members do this with a text and/or a reminder call. We all use CallFire.com and VoiceBlaze.com to do this. Again, just follow their directions and you’ll be all set. And if you can’t figure it out, seek some help form a teenager.
You should have a smartphone. I have an iPhone. You can log into your computer remotely and see what’s going on when you’re at the beach. You can get your e-mails while you’re making the turn during your golf game. You can send documents and files from your DropBox app no matter where you are. When you have a smartphone, your office is with you wherever you are. Get a smartphone!
Getting with technology is nothing more than digging in. It’s like learning another language (I think it’s easier). Seek help from others. Get a working knowledge of how all this technology stuff works. If you don’t, your competitors will blow you away.
This is all I have room for this month. Skills #4 to #7 coming next month.