Educating Customers In Today’s Highly Competitive Marketplace
Many dry cleaners think the only way to increase revenue is to attract new customers into their stores. This is true, considering 15% – 20% of the U.S. population moves every year and if you don’t attract new customers on a regular basis you’ll slowly lose market share to more aggressive competitors.
What about existing customers that still do business with you? Do you have a system in place to insure loyalty, so the next time a competitor sends a coupon to your customers they ignore it?
It’s really a matter of education. Educating customers builds loyalty and educating prospects invites them in to do business with you because you’ve helped them by giving them valuable information.
Educate customers about your cleaning solutions and why they are better than what your competitor uses down the street. Tell them about the special items you clean, your hours and when you pick up and deliver. Do you have a drop off box? Do you guarantee satisfaction? Whether you’re a higher priced dry cleaner or a discount dry cleaner, tell your customers why you’ve chosen to position your company this way and what difference it makes compared to the competition.
Analyze Your Present Customers
Face the facts, you can’t be everything to everybody. You should decide once and for all who is your ideal customer. If you’re an upscale cleaner, your image, positioning and service should scream quality. If you’re a discounter, you’ll probably stress price.
Whatever your “end in mind” is, when you analyze your present customer’s demographic makeup you’ll know who your ideal customer is and can then target them accurately. Targeted, measurable communication to customers via e-mail or snail mail is an ideal way to keep in touch with customers effectively. Get feedback from customers about what they like about your services and attract new customers with those benefits.
Educating Customers About Pricing
Retail ad studies show that 45% of new customers come from discounted sales advertising. So it’s critical that you give prospects some incentive to do business with you initially. Then gradually taper off the discounts. Explain to customers why your prices are higher or lower. They’re higher because you offer a better quality cleaning agent, more exacting handwork, specialty cleaning and state-of-the-art equipment which makes your clothes last longer. Or, they’re lower because you work in volume, have fast equipment and can keep costs down.
When attracting new customers with discount incentives, explain what you’re doing. Then taper off the discounts and only use them to move people up the loyalty ladder from a new customer to an advocate of your business.
Educating Customers Through Promotions
Your advertising and promotions are simply another salesperson. It talks to thousands of people at a time but still has to sell by talking about features and benefits. The general public has a perception of dry cleaning being the same service no matter where they live or who they support. How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors if the perception is you’re all the same? Simply this. Preempt your competitors from explaining the intricacies of your cleaning procedures. Has anyone done this in your market? Tell the public how the process works, why it’s called dry cleaning when you use liquid chemicals and how you don’t mix up everyone’s order when you clean 100 white shirts at the same time. To you it may be simple; to the general public perceptions can be turned into newsworthy stories and events.
Allan J. Katz is a marketing consultant specializing in helping dry cleaners create uncommon marketing strategies that increase sales and profits. He is the author of the Ultimate Marketing System for Dry Cleaners and Addictive Entrepreneurship (allanjkatz.com). For a free 15 minute marketing check-up of your dry cleaning business call (901) 359-8299.