More Than Pretty Pictures

At the last Clean Show, DLI hosted an extremely interesting presentation by Trudy Adams and Dave Dawson entitled 5 Essential Steps to Grow Revenue in a Tough Market. On more than one occasion I found myself having to resist the urge to jump out of my seat and scream ‘Hallelujah’ because the content presented was so educational, so on point and so strong. Within the first ten minutes of the presentation, I had already filled two pages with notes.

Trudy began her presentation with one of the most powerful videos I have seen in a while. Trudy shared some hidden camera footage of an actual customer experience of going into a dry cleaning store to drop off an order. You could hear audible gasps from the audience as the staff member on camera took more than just a few moments of fiddling with her cell phone before eventually coming to the counter and asking just three questions:

1) Whatchya got?

2) Whatchya phone numma?

3) Whenyawannum?

BOOM! Pretty much summed up 95 percent or more of the entire dry cleaning world experience right there! But that was only the start.

Trudy went on to share how she has been working for a client to change the customer experience in her client’s store(s). Trudy shared some simple, but extremely effective techniques of training staff to become not just a counter attendant, but a professional customer service representative that can create and shape a customer’s experience that DIFFERENTIATES your business from all others. Like Disney theme parks, like Chick Fil A, your staff CAN be trained to be a real, honest to goodness customer service representative, a professional sales person, someone who crafts a customer or ‘guest’ experience, all you need to do is set some standards, stick to them, and begin a training program that teaches and enforces some very simple techniques. Techniques such as using words like, ‘welcome,’ ‘please,’ ‘thank you’ and ‘it’s my pleasure.’

Trudy showed how your marketing and promotions could be working against you. Trudy presented a slide that showed the TRUE COSTS of running a promotion, costs that not only include the cost of the ad, the discount given, but the cost of good (services) sold in the form of plant processing charges. Oh yes, it costs money to produce those sale garments (Grabbing my chair so I don’t shout out ‘Hallelujah’ right now)! Some of the most expensive advertising you can do is a successful promotion that fills your plant with work that COSTS you MORE money to produce than it generates in sales. I found myself starting to get whiplash from nodding my head in agreement with her.

But my neck was not to get any respite. Dave Dawson took the stage and gave one of the most simple yet most powerful examples of branding I’d ever seen. I’m taking the liberty of reproducing it here because I believe you need to experience and understand the message, an example Dave gave.

Take a look at the picture of these water bottles…

They all hold water. They are all one litre in capacity.

Sure there are some differences in the shape of the bottles, some round, square, tall or short. Sure, some are ‘pure,’ some are extremely filtered tap water bottled locally, some are PH balanced or slightly alkaline, but on the whole, they are all a bottle of water, something to drink and refresh or slake thirst. Water is pretty much water, right? Well, not really, you see, there are two things that differenciate these bottles of water…

The first differentiation is…PRICE! The bottles of water pictured varied in price from 98 cents to $6.00. That is an impressive spread, 98 cents to six bucks. And, one can be assured; there is also an impressive spread in the profits between a 98 cent bottle of water and a six dollar bottle of water.

The second differentiation is, the BRAND!

And, again, Dave presented another jaw dropper example that I must repeat. Once again, look at the pictures…

It’s Pizza, right? Well, no. It’s Pizza Hut pizza and it’s Domino’s Pizza. While both are offering pizza, it’s not just any pizza, its BRANDED pizza that makes each of their pizzas different from one another. If you want a Pizza Hut pizza, you go to Pizza Hut because Domino’s is NOT Pizza Hut. THAT is the power of branding, it differentiates.

So, what has this got to do with dry cleaning? Well, I think the next picture makes Dave’s point…

Drive by any mall in North America, and you see Dunkin Donuts, Starbuck’s Coffee, Pizza Hut, Domino’s…and then the GENERIC, could be just about any not much different than any other Dry Cleaners…


What makes YOUR dry cleaners any different than the one across the street, down the street, on the other side of town, on the other side of the country? Heck, if you don’t even have the guts to put your BUSINESS NAME over your door, you have no reason to be perceived more or any different than any other cleaner with the words DRY CLEANERS over his door!?!!

Trudy took over at this point, and began a machine gun fire of concepts and ideas to create differences within your operation, differences that began on the front counter, in your production, in your marketing and in your marketing messages.

‘It’s not just pretty pictures!’, Trudy’s words rang out across the room.  Then she summed up the critical 5 Essential Steps to Grow Revenue in a Tough Market:

  Upgrade the customer experience

  Teach your Team to Sell

  Empower your Brand

  Make Promotions Productive

  Take advantage of customer relationships

Now, there is a lot more that go along with these five essential steps, but I simply do not have space to expand on them in this article, and, well, you really should have BEEN THERE in person taking in the seminar. What I can tell you is, I left that room after this presentation renewed and reinvigorated, ready to get down to work. My battery was not only recharged, but I felt jump-started. I just wish you could have been there too!

If you need to catch up, go to DLI’s website and you can find speaking notes from this presentation there. I’d strongly encourage you to take Trudy and Dave’s message to heart, and start your path to growth today.

About Darcy Moen

Darcy Moen opened his first drycleaning shop at the age nineteen. Over the next sixteen years, he built his first 600 square foot plant into a chain of 5 stores, creating and testing his own marketing programs along the way. Darcy is a multi-media marketer, working in digital signage, video, print, direct mail, web, email and is a social media expert certified by Facebook for Pages, Insights, and Ad systems. Please visit