Or, are you even marketing at all? I hope you are.
Most dry cleaners underestimate the difficulty of both acquiring and keeping customers.
Gone are the days when you built a store and they came. Gone are the days when your van filled up just because they saw it driving in their neighborhood.
Dry Cleaners are still popping up around every corner. Everyone wants to get into the dry cleaning business. I field calls every week from newbies wanting marketing information for their new store or route. And they won’t stop coming into your territory.
The successful dry cleaner owner is a marketing master first and a dry cleaner second. What do I mean by that? The most successful dry cleaners I know spend 80% of their days working on marketing and 20% on all the other stuff.
The failing dry cleaner spends 99% of his time working in his business (instead of on his business) trying to do everything himself to (supposedly) save a buck or two—he’s penny wise and pound foolish.
If you want to survive and prosper, you’ve got to realize that you’re not a dry cleaner anymore—you’re a marketer of your dry cleaner business.
That being said, I’m not discounting your quality and your customer service. Those MUST be superior. BUT, you must have customers to perform your quality and customer service. So it all starts with getting a constant stream of counter and route customers.
ALL Media Works. You heard me. That’s right. Newspapers, radio, TV, Cable, Direct Mail, Postcards, ValPak type mailings, PPC, Websites, email and anything else you can think of will work in getting customers in the dry cleaning business.
Here’s the kicker: You’ve got to test your brains off to get certain media to work. Some media might not work best for you if you’re only in one part of town verses having stores and routes covering your whole town or city. TV works (after testing) if you’ve got stores and routes all over your city. It won’t work if you only have one store in one suburb of your city. You’d be advertising to lots of people that live in other parts of your city and that don’t make sense.
That being said, you should concentrate on advertising or media that suits the kind of business you have.
Direct mail will work for every dry cleaner. Door knocking will work for every dry cleaner unless your prospects are in gated communities, residential buildings or in a no soliciting town. Same goes for bag drops. Pay-per-click (PPC) will work for every dry cleaner too.
I don’t have any experience with radio and TV in the dry cleaning business, but I’ve gotten it to work in other businesses that cater to the homeowner. I could get to work with some testing in this business.
Track Your Results. If you spend a bunch of money on advertising and don’t know your results, you’d get the same results by setting fire to your cash. You need to know how many customers you got, how much they spent and how many visits or pick-ups happened. By knowing this, you can figure how much each new customer costs you and whether or not it was worth it to use that way of advertising again or test another way.
For route advertising, I use a specific phone number that I get from Kall8.com. When someone calls your (advertising specific) phone number, you’ve got a record of it. You can even have the call recorded so that you know exactly what happened. Did your route manager use the script you provided and turned that prospect into a customer? For counter advertising, you can use a “coupon code” to track your new customer. Your software can track the size and how many times that new customer comes in.
By tracking your sales, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt how much each customer is costing you. Now you can make an intelligent decision whether or not this media is working or you need to test it some more to get it to work. I’m not going into how much you should pay for a customer in this article. It’s a whole article by itself. One that I already wrote How Much Are You Willing To Spend To Get A Route Customer? Counter Customer? Cleaner & Launderer has it archived on its website for you.
The Media Worked. Did My Route Manager and/or CSR and Quality/Customer Service Work Too? Once you’ve tested your media and you’ve gotten it to work, are all the other parts to the sales/quality/customer service processes working too?
Here are the minimum number of steps that need to happen before someone becomes a good, loyal customer:
1) Gain the interest of a prospect and convert that interest into a phone call to the route manager or a visit to your counter.
2) Take the phone call and turn into a route customer or the visit to the counter into a repeating customer.
3) Get the route customer to leave their clothes out a second, third and many times more. Get the counter customer to come back every week, month and year.
4) Provide your dry cleaning service at a better-than-good-enough level, with your new customer being the judge on what is “better than good enough” (and not just good or acceptable).
If any of these steps get skipped or handled poorly, you’ve lost a customer. And route and counter customer retention is another article too. You can find it in the archives: “How To Keep Your Counter and Route Customers and Getting Them To Spend More With Your Dry Cleaning Business!”
If reading this exhausts you and you don’t know where to start, you can contact me for all the media (I’ve done all the testing and I’ve got the advertising templates you can use) except for door knocking. I hope you take some of these ideas and put them to work in your dry cleaning business Go to it!