What would your business look like if you never lost a customer? I know you are not willingly trying to chase customers away, but it happens, even to the very best of businesses. It’s simply inevitable that some customers drift away.
The typical dry cleaning business has about 5,000 customers in its point-of-sale database. Of those 5,000 customers, 1,000 customers are very active bringing in 80 percent of the garments, sales and revenue for your company. Another 1,000 are semi active customers coming in quarterly. The remaining 60 percent are all over the map, seasonal, twice a year customers, wedding and funeral crowd, one hit wonders, etc. Usually, a good 40 percent of your customer list hasn’t been active for 90 days or more, likely not having come in and made a purchase for over a year or more.
If you are like most businesses, you likely haven’t done anything to reactive inactive customers.
Most customers don’t leave because of pricing, or quality, or your location. Most customers don’t leave because a competitor has stolen them, most customers leave because the business they were using hasn’t reached out and invited the customer back to shop them again.
Think of the last restaurant you dined at. Even if the food was exceptional, the service was fantastic, the price was right, and you really enjoyed the atmosphere, ambiance and the night out…did the manager, waiter or waitress ask you: “When can we see you again?” How about that new shirt or dress you bought, three to six months later, did anyone reach out to you and ask you if you’d like to come shopping or buy some more? Odds are, NO! Far too many businesses simply assume you are going to come back and buy/shop again.
So, why should your business be like other businesses?
Well, it’s likely that you don’t know what to do or how to operate a customer retention program. Today, I’m going to fix that and share with you a super simple customer retention program I used to use in my own dry cleaning shop.
Step one: run an inactive customer report from your point-of-sale system. Simply ask your system to find all customers who have not picked up an order or it’s been 90 (or 180) days since the date of their last order pick up (ticket cashed out), and preferably, print mailing labels for each one of these customers.
Step two: Print up a very simple postcard, something like the one shown here.
Pretty simple card, isn’t it? It’s direct, to the point, and you don’t really need a lot of words to get the message across.
Step 3: add more copy to the back of the postcard. Something like: ‘Name of your cleaners’ has been reviewing our records, and we’ve noticed that it’s been some time since we last did some cleaning for you. We miss you, and we would like to see you again. Please bring this card when dropping off your next order of dry cleaning, and we’ll take five dollars off the total of your order (or whatever offer you’d like to make – two for one shirts, pair of pants cleaned free – whatever).
Step 4: attach your mailing labels of inactive customers to the postcard, attach a stamp.
Step 5: deliver postcards to post office.
Now that you have completed steps one through five, I have to congratulate you, because you have just done more to retain customers than 98 percent of the businesses I’ve even known. Yes, really! There are so few businesses that take a proactive stance when it comes to keeping customers.
But does it work? Well, let me share a couple stories with you that happened to me.
An elder couple walked into the lobby of my store. They asked my counter person if they could talk to the owner or manager. I walked up to the counter, and the elderly gentleman started to speak to me in a wavering voice. “We have received a few of these we miss you cards since moving into the condo. The previous owner must have been a special customer to you. She certainly was special to us. You see, the person these cards are addressed to was our daughter.”
“Was?” Seeing my look of concern and puzzlement, the gentleman continued.
“Yes, I said WAS, our daughter passed away last year from breast cancer. We thought that you should know…and…we really miss her too!”
We all broke down and had a good cry and, I have to admit, I still tear up every time I share this story.
And then there was another incident. A guy came bounding into the shop, threw his one pair of pants on the counter and slapped his red We Miss You card down and yelled: “I’m BACK!”
Naturally, I had to ask: “Where have you been?”
The customer went on… “My wife left me, turned my own kids against me. My mother, father and sister wouldn’t have anything to do with me. All my friends left me too. I was left literally all alone. Then, one day, your We Miss You card was forwarded with my other mail to my jail cell. A few months later, another We Miss You card you sent was delivered. For two years I sat in that jail cell, but I knew that despite everyone else leaving me there was one person out there who missed me, who wanted me back. Your postcards gave me hope…HOPE that at least somebody out there wanted me, even if it was just to clean my clothes. So HERE I AM! I’M BACK!”
There are more stories, but these two stand out the most.
Does this work? Yes. For the price of a postcard and a stamp, you can touch the heart of mourning parents and remind them that they are not alone in missing their daughter. For the price of a postcard and a stamp, you can give an inmate hope, hope that someone, somewhere on the outside is waiting, even if it’s just to provide a service, a service that means redemption and a new start in life. And then there are all those other customers, the ones that no business EVER reaches out to remind them that they are wanted and appreciated, and all they have to do is come back and drop off another order…all those forgotten customers, just waiting for an invitation to come back, and become an active customer again.
What would your business look like if you never let another customer slip into being inactive again? Why not try this out yourself, and let’s find out…