Other than your building (assuming you own it), and your equipment, the single most valuable asset you have in your business is: YOUR CUSTOMER LIST. Knowing who your customers are, where they live and how to contact them is simply one of the most valuable assets you have.
These are heady days for information, and the use of it. What we can do today using customer data to reach out to customers is very exciting. But, we must capture that information in order to be able to use any of it.
Far too often I’m asked to help a cleaner market and promote their business, and the cleaner does not have a customer list, or, they simply have the customer’s last name and phone number in their point-of-sale system. Certainly, having just a customer’s name and phone number may make it easy and fast for your staff to mark in and retrieve customer’s orders, but you are sacrificing a great deal of other advantages in exchange for speed at the counter.
Today’s point-of-sale systems offers additional communication tools such as text messages. But you should also be collecting a customer’s email address. Text messages through some point-of-sale systems are limited to text (alpha-numeric characters only), so it is of great benefit to email customers as you can add graphics to email messages and there are no character limits like there is in text messaging. A picture is worth a thousand words, and we ARE in the fashion industry where we rely on images, imagery and visuals, you can say so much more with pictures in an email message.
Collecting a customer’s home address is also vital. Knowing where your customer lives is extremely valuable as you can map your customers using online mapping systems. Being able to see where your customers live, where they come from, where they are concentrated on a map is VERY beneficial when it comes to targeting other customers just like your current customers. Mapping customers will show you where physical barriers are, such as a busy highway or freeway cutting through your market causing major barrier to the free flow of traffic to your store.
You can also run your customers and their physical addresses through a demographic information service to give you very interesting data regarding careers and jobs your customers have. Home value is also another interesting bit of information as it points to income levels. Knowing what vehicles, hobbies, magazines and TV shows your customers watch, all of which is very insightful as to common interests. Being able to target customers based upon house value, income, career and special interests saves you wasting a lot of marketing time and dollars targeting people who cannot afford your services or might not have any interest in your services.
I know it’s a bothersome task to capture a customer’s full name, address, zip code home, work and cell number and email address. Nothing says you have to capture all this information at once. You can have blitz days/weeks/months where your staff can participate in fun programs to capture customer contact data. Offering an incentive of $1.00 for every address your employee collects can buy a lunch or two, and a free lunch now and then motivates your employees.
Of course, I’d much rather you have a regular process in place to capture customer contact information. I devised a simple form that you can use to capture customer contact details. If you would like to email me, I’d be happy to share that form with you, along with a few suggestions how you can get your staff and customers onside collecting and giving up those contact details.
To give you an idea just how important and valuable having complete customer contact details on file is, for each customer you have and use text messaging, email marketing and even good old fashioned postcards for marketing to these customers, you can count on an additional $65.00 per year in additional sales PER CUSTOMER. Think of this for a moment, if you have 1,000 customers with full contact information on file, and then you use that information to solicit extra sales, that is an additional $65,000 in EXTRA sales per year. Given the current Covid business environment, that is a pile of money that could go a long way towards meeting expenses, or give you much needed profits in these days where there may be none.
Information drives sales. That is providing you are collecting and using it. Therein lays the rub, it’s far too easy for staff to be a little lazy and not collect this information. Many businesses owners are too busy with their heads in the dry cleaning machine, washers, dryers and in the laundry carts to USE the information in their point-of-sale systems. Just want to let you know, there are people and companies out there who can do all this for you if you don’t have the time, interest, skills, or time to learn to do it yourself (hint, hint, people like me). Costs are reasonable, and increases in sales will more than cover costs of hiring this work out.
Recently, a cleaner called. In his market cleaners are closing up like crazy. He has ample opportunity to pick up a lot of assets at fire sale prices and below. One cleaner had already sold off most of his assets, but was eager to sell his ‘book of business’ to another cleaner, along with a letter of introduction and endorsement. Analyzing the customer list, 90 percent of the customer list was simply name and phone number. The cleaner wanting to sell his customer list said there was over $200,000 worth of sales from these customers, but without full contact details, there simply was too much risk to the cleaner buying the list. Not having full contact details made the customer list virtually worthless because there was far too much work to do to collect missing contact information. Placing all your eggs in one basket relying on telephone calls to inform customers of change-over is too risky. Being able to send text messages, email messages and a series of postcards and letters to customers to ensure a more stable transition makes all the difference. While the seller thinks there is great value, there is much more risk to the buyer, which must be reflected in the purchase price. The selling cleaner was very disappointed in the reduced valuation of his ‘customer list’ by 90 percent, so much so that he withdrew his customer list for sale.
Having just a name and a phone number on file is just too risky. Something for you to think about should you be thinking of selling your business and customer list. Get those contact details so you have something of value to use, or to offer!