Do You Want Fries With That?

Every time you order at a fast food restaurant, you are always asked “do you want fries, drink or try our new product.” Our industry is a service industry and yet we do not try to “up-sell” our customers. Think of the amount of money you may be leaving on the table because you neglect to ask.

An old friend of mine, Bud Emerson, owned Emerson Lemay Cleaners in Pacific Palisades. I remember him telling me. “I trained my customer people to look at the clothes while they are talking to the customers. Check the pockets…any holes, any rips, missing buttons, etc.” His employees would then ask the customers if they wanted these various things repaired. Almost always, the customers would agree to the repairs. “This increased my alteration income immensely, “Bud would laugh. This is just the start of what additional revenue can be brought in over your counter!

We all know that obtaining new customers is a difficult task. The easiest way to increase your sales is to encourage your current customers to buy more than they originally intended. The website states, “14 % of convenience store shoppers buy an item on promotion. However, 36% were found to buy an item on promotion when they were told about it by store staff.”

Most of you have the access to clean everything: leather, rugs, shoes, purses, household items, etc. Do your customers know this? I will guarantee that many of your customers did not realize all the items that you handle. You need to change this. Show your staff how easy it is to advise your customers of the things you can do. Lead by example. Wait on the counter and demonstrate how easy it is to ask for more business. You need to show your staff that it is for the convenience of the customer. Plus it will help the customer save some money also.

Customer service reps are good at what they do but they need direction to sell these additional services. Most of them haven’t thought of offering these extra services and don’t know what to sell. You need to develop a program once each month to up sell something. Let’s say this month pick household items- spring-cleaning. Have a meeting with your staff and give them some buzzwords to use:

• Do you know we clean comforters and blankets?

• Would you like to try our new service to refresh your pillows?

• Have you seen our offer on…?

I know many of you are very social media savvy. You send e-mails to your customers. I do business with Kona Cleaners, Huntington Beach. Once a week I get an email from them reminding me of the services they provide. This is very helpful. It reminds me to bring in the additional items when I go the next time. However, many of you do not use e-mails. So you can accomplish this by training your staff at the counter.

Again, start a plan so each month you promote one of your “extra services” Do this ahead for the entire year. It is helpful to use promotional materials in the call office every month. It calls your customer’s attention to it and helps the staff. Train the staff to recognize selling opportunities and how to exploit them. They are already talking with the customers so your staff needs to make suggestions based on your customers’ needs. You need to work with them on their techniques.

And of course, incentives are always nice. Have a contest. Reward the customer service reps on the amount of the extra services they have sold. When I had my cleaners, one promotion I had was selling repellant for ties. It was easy to track and I could tell who sold the most. The reward was only a $25 gift certificate, but it was appreciated.

Think about this. It is the easiest way to increase your bottom line! Trust me.

About Jackie Smith

Jackie Smith has been in the dry-cleaning industry for over 40 years. Her experience spans from owning a drycleaning business to working for Henderson Insurance Agency who specializes in the fabricare industry. She currently serves on the CCA Board as well as the board for So Cal Cleaners Association. She can be reached at

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