Did you know that each year more than 825,000 tons of clothes are dry-cleaned?
Talk about opportunity. From job interviews to special occasions and daily work-wear to delicate fabrics, people want to look their best and rely on their local dry cleaning business to help them achieve that!
It is no wonder that the dry cleaning industry is such a challenging one. Faced with a saturated market of strong competition, dry cleaning business owners are tasked with drawing in potentially loyal customers while also recognizing that their market is highly convenience-driven.
Though it is a consumer centric business, dry cleaners face yet another interesting challenge: there is little or infrequent face-to-face interaction with customers, especially in purely delivery dry cleaning business models. Connecting with your dry cleaning customers when you have the opportunity, or making those opportunities happen more frequently, becomes extremely important to making your business successful.
So, the million-dollar question is this: How do you do that?
Know Your Customers.
As a local small business owner your consumer base can vary greatly depending on the town you are located in. It is crucial to know the demographics and lifestyles of the surrounding community where you do business so you can effectively target their needs with your advertising. For example, if you’re located in a college town you may want to consider implementing a student discount. Or if you’re in an area with mainly young professionals, an occasional 2-for1 suit cleaning offer would be hard to resist.
Focus on Convenience.
Clean clothes are a necessity, so consumers want a hassle-free process. Let your customers know how efficient your cleaning process is and exactly when they can expect to pick-up or receive their clothes. If there is an unexpected problem or you finish cleaning the clothes early, give the customer a quick call to let them know. For route customers, consider setting up a text reminder program or giving them a quick call the day before to remind them when it’s pick-up day so they can be sure to set any clothes out.
Present a Clean Image.
You’re in the business of cleaning so you should present an image that reflects that commitment at all times. Make sure the storefront is sanitary and mess-free, and your employees look polished. If you have a delivery service, your employees should look clean and professional while they run their routes. Any service vans should also be washed regularly and kept clutter free.
Let Your Personality Shine.
Since you don’t get that much face to face time with consumers you want to maximize any time you have with a customer. When customers are in your store they should be greeted with friendly, personable service every time. You can extend that personal touch with a regular newsletter full of useful tips for your consumers. Include entertaining information about your business like an employee spotlight section or an employee’s pet of the month. This gives your customers a way to connect with your store even if they haven’t been by in a while.
Beyond these customer service and best business practices, a strong marketing component is essential to establishing your footprint in the local community. Remember, convenience and quality are king, so convey that in your marketing efforts.
Any successful marketing campaign incorporates multiple channels to reach as many consumers as possible where it’s convenient for them. Plan your campaigns to maximize the benefits of direct marketing and digital opportunities:
- Online Media – Make sure you can be found on any online directory such as Yelp and Angie’s list. Many consumers are using these sites the same way consumers used to use the Yellow Pages. Now potential customers can also see reviews next to your business information so be sure to monitor these sites for any negative reviews or angry customers.
- Direct Marketing – Target new homeowners in the area with a ‘welcome and special offer’ piece to bring in new customers throughout the year. Be sure to think about seasonal offers and send out coupons and flyers to remind consumers to bring in their clothes when they switch out their closet in spring and fall.
- Loyalty Cards: Encourage repeat business by offering a loyalty program such as “Get one pair of pants dry cleaned FREE after four visits”.
- Mobile Media: Take advantage of your consumers on the go by sending SMS text messages to encourage business during slow times and to remind customers to bring by their clothes.
Above all, get creative and then monitor what works so you can constantly be marketing more efficiently.
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