“Live Now! You’re Dead For A $#@%ing Long Time.”

Fri, Jun 23, 2017

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Quote by: Bob Perks, 78 year old caddie at The Old Course in St. Andrews, ScotlandBob-Perks

I wrote this 7 years ago:

Bob’s wife died of cancer 10 years ago. He retired from his job and started caddying at The Old Course. He said that it keeps him out of the house and he gets to meet all kinds of interesting people. And he goes out most every night to the Dunvegan Pub (and drinks very little) to meet more people and have fun with the barmen, barmaids and guests.

Life is not a dress rehearsal. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but have you really thought about it and tried to live by it? I’m happy to say that I’ve lived by this motto most of my life and I’ve really kicked it up for the last twenty. Living this way has nothing to do with money, although it helps. I’ve done it both ways.

Here are some ways that I live now. Maybe you could try the ones that make sense to you and add some that you come up with. First of all, I live in my own Kingdom. I am the King and I only let those in my life that I like. If someone is negative and an energy vampire, I have them escorted out of my Kingdom. This started some 42 years ago when I read a book called, “The Magic Of Thinking Big.” David Schwartz, the author said that 99% of your success in life is determined by the people you hang out with. If I feel better about me after spending some time with a person, I let them into my Kingdom. I don’t tell them. I just let them in. By the way, I’ve never written about my Kingdom before. I’ve only shared this with a very few close friends. You have your own Kingdom, but maybe you never consciously thought about it this way. This is the first step to living now. Now you don’t have to worry about negative people, only feel good with the positive ones.

Should I…shouldn’t I? We all ask ourselves this question most every day. It could be as small as should I say hi to that person at the cash register and start a conversation or not. I do. I talk to everyone. I’ve had some of the most interesting conversations with people I just met randomly. Sometimes I see them again, sometimes I don’t. If I like something about someone (man or woman), I compliment him or her. I say “God Bless You” to everyone that sneezes whether I know them or not. When you say nice things to someone, you feel good.

And when you have an opportunity to go on a trip, go on it. Don’t worry about your business–it will survive. It’s as easy as giving yourself permission to go. Never hold back. My Dad told me when I was 40 not to wait until you retire to go on trips. I have not. I now go on 12 golf trips a year and 3 or 4 trips with my wife. If you have kids, this schedule will be different, but you get what I mean.

Count your blessings. Cherish your family, good friends, friends, customers and those great people you meet randomly. If you wake up, it’s a good day. Smile. Say hi to everyone. Walk with a little spark. Whistle. Do something you really like every day. Eat better. Exercise. Leave your comfort zone often. Try new things. Don’t ever rush. Take your time. Open doors. Compliment. Reunite with old friends. Make new friends. Take time everyday for just you. Stop beeping your horn. Have empathy. Feel the love and pain from every person you meet. Be happy all the time.

You are blessed with the life you have. You run your own business and have the opportunity to do exactly what you want. You really do. You have to decide to do it. I am one of you. I live my life now. I get jazzed every day with the opportunity to work with you. I am doing EXACTLY what I want to do. If I won the lottery I would still do what I’m doing now.

To get to this point in my life, I’ve started 33 businesses. I’m on my third wife. I’ve bankrupted 3 businesses and I’ve gone bankrupt personally once. So life has not been a bed of roses for me. I’ve had some very difficult times. I once had only $20 dollars left to my name and I took a long walk along a deep gorge thinking I should end it all. Thank goodness I didn’t. I just started another business. The best part about the difficult times is what you learn, how blessed you feel after it’s gone and what you figure out about life.

Please don’t analyze this little rant of what I think about living now, just take parts of it you like and start implementing them in your life. I’m laying out my soul here.

I’d like to know what you think. I’d like to know what you do to live now. Comment below. Thanks for listening. I appreciate it. And thanks to Bob for inspiring me to write this.

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How To Find Success In The Dry Cleaning Business

Sat, Apr 9, 2016

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First of all, let’s define success.

What is your definition of success?

What is your definition of success?

I think success is all about lifestyle. There are those that make lots of money, but they are stuck with the golden handcuffs of working for someone else. You and I work for ourselves. We don’t answer to anybody or anyone. We can take off anytime we want without asking a soul.

It’s been 36 years since I’ve asked for vacation time. I can’t fathom asking my boss for time off. I was thinking about that this morning while I was driving to Starbucks to write this article.

I’m coming from three months of snow-birding in Sarasota, FL. I just left my daughter’s home in Charlotte, NC where I spend the last 10 days hanging with 2 year-old granddaughter.

This is all possible because of this great business that you and I are in. If you’re doing this dry cleaning business thing right, you don’t have to be in your plant every day all day. You can visit instead.

My most successful members including David Whitehurst of Champion Cleaners in Birmingham, AL, work from an office in their home. When David became a member (client) of mine in 2007, he had his office in his plant. He told me that his days were spent putting out one fire after another and he was very frustrated.

I told him about Peter Drucker’s book, “The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide To Getting The Right Things Done.” I live by and remember only one thing in that book: “Eight hours of interrupted time and equal to one hour of uninterrupted time.”

If you’re in your plant you WILL be interrupted all day long and you will ONLY get one hour of real work done that day. When you go on vacation, things seem to run smoothly without you, don’t they? So, make believe you’re on vacation all time—that’s what I do.

How do you do that?

First of all, get your office out of your plant into your home. It’s tough to do it cold turkey, so start by getting to your plant by noon each day. Get someone else to turn on the boiler if you do. Stay at home at start working ON your business and not IN your business. That four hours you spend at home will yield 32 hours of interrupted time. It would normally take you four days to accomplish that. You will NEVER get a lifestyle if you have to be (or think you have to be) in your plant 24/7. It will never happen.

The next skill you’ve got to master is delegation. Your job is not to spot, press, work the front counter (only a little bit if you enjoy it and only after all the marketing work is done), or fix your machines. If you’re doing all or some of this, you won’t have any kind of lifestyle at all. You’ll be a slave to your business.

You should not be doing $10/hour work. You should be doing $50/hour work and up. If you can hire someone to get something done in your dry cleaning business, that’s what you should do. You’re doing your dry cleaner no good working 60-80 hours per week. You become very inefficient after about 50 hours.

Imagine getting up, getting some coffee and walking to your home office. No traffic. No employees. No interruptions (unless you’ve got some kids). Just you and your computer. Imagine all the work you can get done. Imagine visiting your plant (or plants) and your drop stores. Imagine everything running smoothly without you having to be in your plant.

This can be your reality. This can be normal for you. And once you get there, you’ll never want to go back, I promise.

So what do you do with these newfound uninterrupted hours of your day?

You work on getting MORE CUSTOMERS!

Your primary job is as your dry cleaner’s CMO, which is its Chief Marketing Officer.

You’re job is to figure out how to get and keep customers for your counter and your routes.

That’s where the money (and lifestyle) is!

And that’s where I come in. I can show you how to get counter and route customers.

Gone are the days where you put up a plant and drop stores and the customers come strolling in. Some show up, but not like in the old days. There is way too much competition from all the discounters, franchises and every Tom, Dick and Harry thinking that the dry cleaning business is easy. It’s not easy.

I’ve started 33 businesses. It’s just as difficult as the other 32 I started. Business is business is business.

Your focus should be on marketing. You should be spending 80% of your time on marketing your dry cleaners. That’s what is going to make the difference in your business and your lifestyle.

My book can get you started: DryCleaningBook.com

I sincerely hope that you take this advice seriously. This is not a joke. These simple ideas can get you the lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of. They’ve done it for me, for David Whitehurst and many more of my members.

Go to it!

Call 888-661-1992 to set up a FREE 30-minute consult with me about your routes and/or your counter business or anything you’d like to talk about in your dry cleaning business.

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Are You A Salesperson? If Not, You Should Decide To Become One. Your Dry Cleaner Is Depending On It!

Thu, Jan 14, 2016

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...to being a salesperson!

…to being a salesperson!

Like it or not, you’re in the business of selling. All business sell something. If you don’t like selling, or think it’s a necessary evil, you’re not going to reach your dry cleaner’s full potential.

If you’re on the fence, you’ve got to look at selling differently. This is how I look at it: First of all, I wouldn’t sell anything that I wouldn’t sell to my mother. My mother is the litmus test. I would never sell “crap”. I would never sell something that I wouldn’t use myself.

I’ve sold lots of products and services in my business (33 businesses and counting and the last one being a dry cleaner) career. As I look back, the products I was not to fond of, I didn’t sell much of. You must have a belief that your product or service is really going to help the person you’re selling it to or you won’t sell much of it.

Selling is the foundation of your dry cleaning business. You could be the greatest dry cleaner in the world, but without selling it, you wouldn’t have much of a business. You might not realize it, but you’re selling in the way you set up your plant’s counter area. Is it inviting? Does it welcome people? Are you using the wall space for sharing information on all that your business does? Are you using that space to introduce yourself and your team? Is your counter area clean? Are your CSR’s (I like to call them Customer Sales Reps instead of Customer Service Reps) friendly and do they smile? How do they answer the phone? Is that scripted? Can they make decisions on refunds? Can they decide what to do when you lose a garment and you damage one? Do your CSR’s sell your other services? Do they convert counter customers to your route?

This is all part of the sales process and it’s just the beginning.

Does your delivery van invite prospects to call you? This is what the back of my van looks like. My USP (Unique van-backSelling Proposition) says, “FREE Pick-Up & Next Day Delivery”, and then says, “Call 234-4400 to find out more.”

My van is standing at a light or a stop sign and the car behind is reading this. If they’re interested, they get on their mobile phone and call. And when they call, they get a scripted recorded message from me on how my delivery service works. And I give them an incentive to get signed up because I offer them $10 in free dry cleaning just to try it out my delivery service with no strings attached.

I don’t have the phone number go to a live person on purpose because the scripted message from me is delivered the same way each and every time. They get a feel of who I am (the owner) and what my dry cleaner is all about.

So when I talk about you becoming a salesperson, I’m not talking about the stereotypical car salesman that none of us want to be like. I’m talking about becoming aware of all the parts of your business that you should be creating sales messages in.

You should come up with an offer that permeates everything you do. My “offer” is:

$10 In FREE Dry Cleaning Just To Try Us Out. No Strings Attached. No Rabbit Coming Out Of The Hat. No Hidden Agenda. Just A No Risk Way To See If You’ll Like Us.

I change it up to keep it exciting, but the message is always “free dry cleaning to try me out.” I’m taking all the risk away and making it very easy for my prospect to say YES!

Your website should be selling everything you have to offer. Every page should have your phone number and also your offer of free dry cleaning.

If you really believe in what you’re doing, selling should come as a natural by product. You’ve got to believe deep down in your heart that your dry cleaner should be the cleaner of choice for all the people in your market.

When you walk into businesses, notice what they do to get you to buy more. Also notice those that are not inviting—maybe you’re doing some of those things. Start to make a conscious effort to notice those parts of your dry cleaning business that need selling to be incorporated.

Take one of these ideas this week and put it into use. Your dry cleaner deserves it!

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The Five Key Principles For Maximizing Referrals & Customer Retention!

Tue, Sep 1, 2015

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thanks. referralThese five key principles help you get referrals and keep your customers. It costs you five times as much to get a new customer as to keep one. So you might as well take good care of the ones you have. And while you’re taking care of them, you might as well get some referrals.

Most dry cleaners get a new customer and never talk to that customer again. Your new customer never hears from you unless they pop into your store or catch you while you’re delivering their clothes. Is this the way you’d like it to be? I don’t think so.

Principle #1 – Frequency Of Communications: I want you to think about the personal relationships you have in your business and personal life. How much time do you spend seeing and talking with your closest friends? Do you only talk to them once a year? Or do you spend some time every week or month connecting with them?

What would happen if you ONLY talked to your very best friend once or twice every two years?

What would happen if you only saw your spouse or significant other one night a year (Hey, you might like that, but that is not the point. That’s a whole other article for another magazine. Haha.)?

If you only saw your spouse once a year, it would not last. It’s like only talking to your best customers once a year—maybe at the holidays—your relationship will deteriorate.

How are the relationships you have with people different when you speak with them on a regular basis as opposed to quarterly or annually? Outside of business, those people whom you speak to often are the people you have the closest relationships with, and those friends from the past are just people you are familiar with or share a history with now.

The longer you go between communications, the weaker your relationships is with your customers, and the more open they are to using your other products and services or simply forgetting about you altogether.

Another wrinkle in this is the type of communication you deliver. If every interaction you have with someone is you asking them for money (ie. Pay my bills just this time! Yeah. Right.), you’re killing the relationship.

Everyone has had a friend or family member in his or her life that is always asking for money. The only time they call or come by is because they need a favor or to borrow (“I promise. I’ll pay you back. Yeah. Right) some money. That relationship gets old real fast. You start avoiding them like the plague. And that’s how most dry cleaners operate. They never contact you unless they need some money. They never just say hi and share some valuable information. They’re always selling one of their services and/or asking for money.

Do you want to be that dry cleaner?

I don’t think you do.

So what can you do to?

You can send them an email giving them some cleaning tips for their home. You can start a newsletter (a paper one is better) and share some of your insight and wisdom. You can talk about how dry cleaning works and talk about some of your employees. You can tell them some (tasteful) jokes and stories. Let your personality show up.

I write a newsletter every month for our members to use and it’s got all these ideas in it. It keeps your customers involved and they don’t forget you. If you’d like a copy of my newsletter, go to NoDoorKnocking.com/sendnewsletter and I’ll mail one out to you right away.

Principle #2 – Consistency Of Communications: I’m writing this in August. This is vacation month. Most dry cleaners are very slow and the owners are on vacation (If not really on vacation, they’re on vacation in their mind. And if you’re not hanging out at some beach you should be. That’s another article.). This time and in December, not much gets done marketing wise in most dry cleaners.consistency

This is not good.

Being inconsistent in the eyes of your customers and your prospects is bad for business. How you market to your prospects tells them how you’ll be when you have them as a customer. If you don’t communicate with them in July/August and during December, you’re telling them that you run your business by the seat-of-your-pants and you’re very disorganized.

If you send out your newsletter every once in a while or get it out late every month, you’re telling your customers that you’re all over the place running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off!

You must plan ahead for those months. It’s like booking a vacation for March in December. You know that you’ll be away, so you start making plans for the time you’re away. Do the same for your dry cleaning business.

Don’t forget to get a copy of my newsletter mailed to you: NoDoorKnocking.com/sendnewsletter

Principle #3 – Communicate Multiple Ways: You can’t send just one email asking for referrals and expect a landslide of responses. It doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to ask all the time and ask in different ways without being annoying.

How do you do that?

Here are all the ways that my members communicate with their dry cleaning customers.

*email

*attached flyer

*newsletter

*hanger covers

*referral quote card

*weekly reminder calls

Email: At least once a month, you dedicate an email to referring your neighbors. At the bottom of ALL your emails, after your signature, you ask for referrals: “Refer Your Neighbor & Get A $10 Starbucks Gift Card.”

Flyer: Attach a flyer once a month to all the out going deliveries explaining how your “Referral Reward Program” works and include a little baggie of referral cards like he ones you see here. Copy what I got. You’ve got my permission.

Newsletter: My membership gets a DONE-FOR-YOU newsletter written for them each month and one half of a 4-page newsletter is dedicated to the “Referral Rewards Program” This section explains the program and also recognizes those dry cleaning customers that referred in the past month.

hanger-coverHanger Covers: Custom printed hanger covers are a great way to ALWAYS be asking for referrals. This is member Stephen Moore’s hanger cover. This goes on ALL his hangers. This is a constant reminder to all of his customers that he is looking for referrals.

referral.card.frontThe Referral/Quote Card is a sneaky way to always be asking for referrals too. As you can see, one side asks nicely for referrals and other side is a quote. Everyone likes quotes. Each week you’ll have a new quote. Members attach these to all orders and they also pop these in jacket and shirt pockets for a nice surprise. You’ll get lots of positive comments with the Referral/Quote Card and referrals too.

Weekly Reminder Calls: Do you remind your customers the night before with areferral.card.back robocall that you’ll be picking up their dry cleaning in the morning? If not, you’re loosing up to 20% in revenue (that’s another article). Anyway, when you’re reminding your customers of tomorrow’s pick-up, you can slide in a plug for referrals.

Principle #4 – Reward, Thank & Recognize:

Most people don’t even want the $10 in free dry cleaning or the Starbucks card. But it’s a way for you to follow up and thank them. There are two ways we thank them: a personalized “Thank You Note” sent through the mail and in the newsletter. When you send out the gift card, you include a nice note thanking them for their referral mentioning the person they referred. It’s a nice touch and will be remembered.

In your newsletter, you recognize them with the others that referred that past month. You can see how I do it.

Principle #5 – Quality & Customer Service: You’ve heard this a million times before that quality and customer service will bring in all the referrals you can handle and you don’t need the rest of the stuff I just mentioned. I think it’s the foundation of getting referrals, BUT I also believe that if you’ve got your act together with Q&CS, you can double the amount of referrals with all the “asking” techniques I mentioned.

Member Grant Carson has built a huge route business in the very competitive market of California. Grant says “YES” to EVERYTHING! As he tells it, “When a customer needs something by Saturday morning and just gave it to us Friday afternoon, we get it to him. I know I just lost money on that individual transaction. But how much ‘referral capital’ did I just build?—a bunch! Do you think that guy is going to tell his friends, family and neighbors about what I did for him in his time of need? You bet he its. My drivers and employees are looking for that kind of ‘capital’ in all that we do at our dry cleaning business.”

Most dry cleaners look at that transaction as “what did that cost me?” Not Grant. He looks at it as, “How much capital did I just build?”

Same goes with your shirt service. Most of us dry cleaners keep our shirt prices down to get the dry cleaning. And along with that thinking, most (not you of course) dry cleaners don’t treat the cleaning of a shirt like they would a piece of dry cleaning. WRONG way to think!

You should pay MORE attentions to your shirts because they are going to keep the dry cleaning coming in. You could have perfect dry cleaning quality and less than perfect shirt laundering and your customer will leave you. They’re not going to take their shirts somewhere else and continue to bring you their dry cleaning because you do a fantastic jog with it.

If you look at EVERYTHING in your dry cleaning business as marketing, building referral capital, and customer retention, you’ll have a very successful “Referral & Customer Retention Generating Machine!”

I hope you enjoyed this, but better yet, I hope you start putting these ideas into action NOW!

Give me your comments below.

 

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17 Ways To Make Your Phone Ring With Route Customers

Wed, Mar 18, 2015

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Take one or two of these ideas and put them to use in your dry cleaning business and see what happens.

The more ways you can get route customers, the better. Having only one marketing method is dangerous. If you have 4 or 5 ways to get customers and have them on autopilot, you’re on your way.

Here are the 17 ways to make your phone ring:

#1 – Your Delivery Van: If your van just has your dry cleaners name and phone number on it, you’re wasting some valuable real estate on the rest of your van. Your van should have your USP (Unique Selling Point) and a call to action—a reason for your prospect to call you. This is what someone sees when they’re following one of my member’s vans:

It say’s:van_mckenzie_pics 005

Try Our FREE Pick-Up & Next Day Delivery Service. Why Waste Your Time & Gas! Use Ours—It’s Easy & It’s FREE!

Call 234-4400 To Find Out More—FREE Recorded Message Reveals Details.

Why waste this opportunity. Once you’re in a neighborhood, it gets easier to get other customers. And having your FREE recorded message does all the selling for you. If your van is not wrapped, consider getting this done. Next time you purchase a van, please use your van as a marketing method to get more route customers.

#2 – Past Customers: Do you really know why a past customer stopped using you? If they didn’t tell you or you didn’t get on phone to find out why, you have no idea. People’s lives change. Jobs change. Situations change. It wasn’t your fault that they all left as you might think so. If you put together a cleverly crafted “I Want You Back” letter, you’ll get upwards of 25% of your customers back. Give them some incentive like $10 in FREE dry cleaning to come back to your route or your store.

#3 – Referrals: Do you ask for referrals? Most dry cleaners don’t. I don’t. I don’t ask personally, but I ask a number of other ways. Once every month, you should put together a letter asking for referrals and attach it to your deliveries for that week. Put together a certificate on your computer (or have someone do it for you), write a letter to go with it and you’ve got your referral letter. Change it up every month depending on what’s going one. In February you could have a Valentine’s theme. Once you’ve put together 12 of these, they’re done for years to come. Offer $10 in FREE dry cleaning if they refer and $10 to the one they referred.

When you first sign up a new route customer, send them a letter asking for referrals and send out an email once every month to match up with the theme of the letter you’ve written and are attaching to the deliveries.

#4 – PPC or Pay-Per-Click: Every browser has their version of PPC. Let’s talk about Google’s Adwords. Most people—75% of them search using Google, so lets concentrate on this. If you’re only going to place PPC ads, you’ll be seen by 75% of the market by just using Google’s Adwords.

It’s not difficult. Go get Google Adwords for Dummies and/or Perry Marshall’s Definitive Guide to Google Adwords. I read Perry’s book and easily set up my dry cleaner’s PPC ads. He saved me a ton of money by following his simple ideas. Most of your competitors are not into PPC. You should be.

Don’t sloff this off. If this Internet stuff scares you, the more reason to dig in. It’s not as difficult as you think it might be. And placing an ad with Google is Kindergarden stuff. So, go do it now!

#5 – Your Website: If placing your PPC ad is a little tough for you, you might need a teenager’s help with your website. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is how you get your website seen by your prospects. I do this through my blog that’s on my website. When I write a blog post, I use the top keywords that your prospects use to find dry cleaners. They are in these, in this order: dry cleaner [your town] [your state], dry cleaners [your town] [your state], and dry cleaning [your town] [your state]. Perry Marshall’s Definitive Guide will help you with finding keywords for your dry cleaner.

#6 – Become Your Town’s Dry Cleaning Expert: Ask your local paper if you can write a monthly article on dry cleaning. Explain what you know about the dry cleaning business. I’m sure you can come up with dozen’s of ideas. The article could be as short a 200 words. Ask the paper to post a picture of you, your dry cleaner, address and phone number. You could even set up an “Ask a Dry Cleaner” column. I’m sure there are lots of questions out there that people would love to see answered.

#7 – Press Releases: This is a great way to keep your dry cleaner in the press. Every time you hire someone, write a press release. When you introduce new service new like, “Ugg Cleaning”, write a press release. If you keep this idea in your mind, you’ll come up with lots of reasons to write press releases.

#8 – Complimentary Partnerships: You advertise for them and they’ll advertise for you. Approach clothing stores, gyms, hair and nail salons, house cleaning companies or any business close by yours that you think might be a good fit. If you have a newsletter (we’ll talk about that later), you can place their advertisements in your newsletter and in turn they can place your advertisements on their counter or bulletin board.

#9 – Newsletter: How many dry cleaners send out a newsletter to their customers? I bet it’s only 1 in 500 at most. Why don’t they? Because 499 of them don’t know what the benefits are. If they did, they’d be getting one out every month. What does a newsletter do for your dry cleaning business besides building loyalty?

The most important thing it does is get you referred customers. My newsletters are built to get referrals from your existing customer base. You have a monthly contest, which is explained in your newsletter every month. You reward your customers with FREE dry cleaning when they refer and you give away a big gift for that person who refers the most new customers that month.

#10 – Testimonials: Testimonials itself is not a method of getting customers but it’s part of most of the ways you do. So I thought it deserved some face time because it’s that important.

When you are considering trying out a new restaurant, you want to know how good it is, right? So you might get on the phone and call a few friends and find out. That’s a referred testimonial.

There are a few ways to get testimonials. When you get an email or one of your customers tells you how great you are, you record that. You ask them if they mind if you use their recommendation. Most will say yes. Get them to write out something short saying nice things about your dry cleaning business.

You can also solicit testimonials. Put together a letter to a portion of your customer base and ask them for a testimonial. Explain why your doing it and that you’ll give them $5 in FREE dry cleaning if they do. One in four letters you send out will end up giving you a testimonial.

And then you use all these testimonials in your advertisements.

#11 – Mailers: Direct mail is very powerful if done right. I want to warn you that it’s not easy and it takes lots testing to get it to work profitably. In my consulting business I use my dry cleaning route business as a marketing laboratory. I am constantly testing new mailers to add new customers to my route.

There is not enough room in this article to get into all nuances of creating a direct mail piece that works. My members have used direct mail to get customers out of gated communities, office and condo buildings and in their residential routes.

Just as an example, getting 2 or 3 new customers out of a 100-piece mailing is considered a success. You don’t look at the percentage of new customers; you look at what it cost you to get those customers. In some mailings, getting one percent is a success.

#12 – New Mover Mailers: In most markets, yours included, hundreds of people are moving in. And when they move, they’re leaving their dry cleaner behind. They are going to be on the lookout for a new dry cleaner. They’re going to be scouring the Internet, talking with neighbors and doing whatever they can to find a new dry cleaner. In their mailbox shows up this mailing piece that talks about the benefits of having their dirty dry cleaning picked up and delivered. Included in this mailing piece are testimonials from some of their neighbors. You offer them $10 in FREE dry cleaning to give your delivery service a try.

#13 – Bag Drops: This is where you leave one of your garment bags with some advertising on their front door and then you follow up in a few days. There are two kinds of bag drops: There is the bag drop where you follow up with a knock on their door and there is the one that they fill out an order form and leave their dirty dry cleaning out on their designated day.

The first one is not really a bag drop; it’s a method of door knocking. If you don’t want or don’t care to knock on doors, this one is not for you. The advertisement attached to this kind of bag drop does not have to be tested because you are following up with a knock.

The bag drop that I recommend is the one with a sales letter attached to your garment bag. This letter will get your prospect to fill out an order form and leave it on their front porch in your garment bag. If don’t correctly you’ll get 3-8 new route customers for every 100 bags you drop. This depends on several factors that I don’t have enough space to talk about right now.

My bag drop letter was tested over an 18-month period to get it work profitably.

#14 – Flyer Attached To Delivery Orders: Once a month I attach an envelope to my deliveries. In this envelope is a letter asking for referrals. I offer my referring customer $10 in FREE dry cleaning and I give the new customer $10 in FREE dry cleaning to try out my delivery service. There is nothing better than a referred customer. They are pre-sold by your existing customer.

#15 – Google Local: I’m sure you’ve done this, but if you haven’t, please go to your Google Local account and fill it out all the way through. It asks for 10 photos, give then 10 photos. It asks for 5 videos, give them five videos. After you’ve filled it out, ask your customers through an email to give you a review. Ethically bribe them with $5 in FREE dry cleaning to leave a positive review. The more reviews you get the better chance you have to being listed on page one of Google and the other search engines.

#16 – Adopt A Highway: Get your dry cleaners name up on the highway. This one is pretty lame, but it might work (hey, I’m running out low on ways to get your phone to ring. I gotta stretch a little bit). You’re cleaning up the highway and you’re cleaning clothes—seems to be a good fit. And it’s a good way to get your employees together for a good cause. You might team these days up with giving out awards and food. Food always makes people happy.

And finally…

#17 – Get Out In Your Community: Join a lead group. Attend Chamber of Commerce meetings. Get out and sponsor a softball or soccer team in your community. Carry your business cards with you and when you hand one out, write $10 in FREE dry cleaning on the back.

This is it! I’m sure there’s more. I’d love to hear about something that’s not on this list that is working for you.

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Are You Personally Creating & Writing Your Dry Cleaner’s Advertising?

Tue, Dec 16, 2014

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If you’re not, you should learn. You know better than anyone else what you’re customers are looking for.

Writing good ads, PPC, brochures and sales letters isn’t really that difficult.  Once you understand the basics, you’ll be able to put them together quickly and effectively.advertising-article

The first thing I want you to do is to forget everything your English teacher taught you.  You heard me right; forget everything you were taught in grade school and high school about writing. You were taught to write boring sounding complete sentences with proper grammar.  We won’t throw all the grammar out the window, but we’ll get rid of those boring sentences.

The first and most important way to write a copy that sells is to write the way you talk.  Talk to one person as if you’re sitting across the table from him or her.  Imagine that as you write.  It’s OK to use words like, “gonna” or “ain’t.”  I know those words are not proper English and I know that my 8th grade English teacher Sister Mary Ann would slap my knuckles with a ruler if I used them.  But guess what, Sister Mary Ann?  This is not English class.  This is the real world.  And in the real world you and I have to use language that will get our point across.  You might have difficulty with this.  I did at first, but not anymore.  How do you like how I’m writing to you now?  It’s folksy and easy to read, isn’t it?  This is how you should write to your dry cleaning customers and prospective customers.

This might seem a little corny, but here it goes.  Write with love.  Write a love letter to your customers wooing them to purchase your dry cleaning service.  Tell them all the great benefits and also tell them the shortfalls.  That’s right; tell them the negatives about your product.  Your service might not benefit them.  Tell them why not.  Be upfront and honest about what you can provide and what you can’t.  They will respect your honesty and forthrightness.  And because of this, they will give you their dirty dry cleaning.

Here are a few more things you ought to do:

1. Write short sentences and short paragraphs – they are easy to read and keep the reader interested.

2. Use a compelling headline – you need to catch their attention and a compelling headline will do that.

3. Write as you talk (just thought I’d mention it again)

4. Don’t use big words – you don’t want them running to the dictionary to find out what you’re saying.  The newspapers are written at a sixth grade level.  Even very educated people don’t want to wrestle with words.  Don’t make it difficult!

5. Use subheadings – this will break up the copy and make it easier to read.

6. Use P.S.’s – summarize your offer in the first P.S.  Most people skip to the end.  Give them something that makes them want to read your whole letter.

7. Tell your story in as many pages as it takes – it might be one page or it might be twelve.  The number is not important.  If you have someone interested, they will read all that you have to say.  Longer copy outsells shorter copy.

Do you ever remember reading something for your class in school?  It was boring, wasn’t it?  Don’t write that boring stuff.  Write with excitement!  Let your personality shine through.

This article is the beginning of how to write and produce your advertising. I recommend that you read, “The Ultimate Sales Letter” by Dan Kennedy to help you with everything you need to write successful advertising. When you can write and get a sales letter to work, you can convert it to work with your ads, PPC and your brochures.

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How To Stay Ahead Of Your Competition –All The Time

Tue, May 20, 2014

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Do you know exactly what your competitors are up to? Do you know all their pricing? Do you know what they’re planning next?

Every business is in the business of both monitoring what competitors are up to and check-mating them to maintain their own share of business. Unfortunately, most of us don’t do this. Here is a step-by-step plan to stay ahead of your competition.crushcompetition

Whether you like it or not, the first day you’re in business is the first day you’re engaging in a game that never stops… the game of knowing what you’re competitors are up to and out maneuvering them.

Unless your dry cleaner is absolutely unique (doubtful), there’s some other dry cleaner out there who’s doing something close to or exactly like you’re doing. What’s more, this dry cleaner may actually be doing it better! Your job is to find out… and to do what’s necessary to get more than your share of the dry cleaning and laundry market. Reread these words. I’m not talking about sharing… I’m talking about getting more than your share. That is really what the game’s all about… and that’s why you’ve got to make a commitment to outsmarting your competitors. SO YOU CAN WIN MORE!

Step One: Listing Your Competitors

To win in the great game of competition, you’ve go to know whom you’re fighting against. This means researching your competition. Start by drawing up a list with the following information:

*Competitors Name
*Address
*Phone Number

Step Two: Make Sure You Have A Convenient Place To Store The Information You Get

I store most of it on my computer. Open a file and call it, “Competition.” If they have any marketing materials, I gather them and put them in a big clear zip lock bag. It’s important to have all this at your fingertips. When something comes up you can go right to your computer or zip lock bag.

Step Three: Gather The Basic Competitor Intelligence

When your research the other dry cleaners in your town, look for this information:

*on what they’re going now

*just a plant/drop stores/laundromat or delivery too.
*services & products

*market area
*quality

*prices, and

*what they’re going to do.

In short, you want to know as much as you possibly can about their present objectives and future plans.

Lots of this information is frankly easy to get. You can stop by their plant (if you’re well known to your competitors, have one of your employees snoop on them), have a pair of pants and shirt cleaned and gather any information that’s on their counter. If they have a delivery service, you can have a friend sign up in their market and give you all the marketing materials.

To find out about their quality, keep your ears open. Ask around. I know in my town what’s going on quality wise, just by being tuned in.

Step Four: Create A Competitor Comparison Chart

Once you’ve go the information you need, it’s time to put it into a usable format. This means creating a chart. This is the chart that compares the apples to the apples and the oranges to oranges. It’s crucial both for your internal planning and for outfoxing he competitors. Let me tell you something else: it’s also something your competitor’s probably don’t have. In my experience, most dry cleaners keep only the most feeble grasp on what they’re competitors are doing, no matter how it will impact them. This is, of course, a mistake. However, when you get organized like this you reap significant advantages, not least because you’re probably going to be more organized than the people competing against you.

Step Five: Add Yourself To Your Competitor Comparison Chart

Your chart isn’t just about your competitors. It is also about YOU! That’s why, once you feel comfortable that you’ve go the information you need on your dry cleaning competitors, you need to add similar information about yourself. Don’t cheat! You need to approach this task with cool detachment, just like an impartial authority might do, or an intelligent customer.

Step Six: Start Drawing Conclusions

The first place you use your Competitor Comparison Chart and the competitive intelligence about your competitors and your own services and products is in-house. The minute you complete the chart, certain things are going to jump out at you. You may find, for instance, that one or more of your prices or services is not competitively positioned. That means that you’re going to have to add some benefits or lower your pricing. I personally don’t like lowering my pricing. So just adding a little something will easily justify the prices you’re charging and going to be charging when you raise your prices in the future.

Step Seven: Hit ‘Um Hard

One of my delivery competitors (who doesn’t own a plant) changed the cleaners doing his work and I knew the cleaners they were going to. I also knew that this cleaner did a horrible job on shirts. How did I knowhithard this? Because of my chart that I built many years earlier. They broke tons of buttons and the shirts looked horrible. They were of the old thinking that; “I don’t make any profits from the shirts, so I won’t spent much time on them.”

I had one of my drivers follow my competitors van for a few days and write down all the houses he stopped at. I attacked those houses with mailings focusing on the quality of my shirts. Result: I picked up 52 customers within a few months.

I have another competitor that started putting door hangers right over my bag drop advertising as we were putting them out one Friday. I couldn’t believe it! They were blatantly overstepping their bounds and they were so stupid to believe that I wouldn’t find out.

Guess what? I previously felt sorry for this competitor for a long time because they were struggling and I didn’t do anything to hinder their growth. I left them alone. They also had shitty shirt quality. I had their van followed and I picked up 32 customers in my neighborhoods with mailings focused on shirt quality. Don’t mess with me! I will pull out all the stops and go after your customers.

I’m usually not this aggressive, but this inconsiderate competitor started barking up the wrong tree. He won’t do that anymore. Actually, he’s out of business and I picked up a bunch more of his customers as soon as he bit the dust.

Oh. I got one more story about this stuff. I got an unusual phone call from our local billionaire. I know him from doing business with him in the past. What’s funny about the phone call is that his ex-wife was asking me lots of questions the week before. This billionaire left me two messages and I never returned his call. Can you say that you didn’t return a billionaire’s call? My suspicions were right! His two sons started up a dry cleaning delivery service a few months later. Their van was pretty. Their brochures were gorgeous. Their uniforms were second to none. They had a billionaire dad backing them up. Guess what happened?

I blew them out of the water. I plugged them into my Competitor Comparison Chart and attacked them with a vengeance. I wasn’t going to let an arrogant billionaire and his two perfect sons take me down. Let me back up a bit. This billionaire embarrassed me in front of a few people two years prior. I didn’t like him. That’s why this story is sooooo good!

Take what you’d like to use out of this and blow your competitors out of the water!

 

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Go Out & Steal All The Marketing Ideas You Can & Use Them. Not From Other Dry Cleaner’s—From Other Unrelated Businesses.

Mon, Apr 21, 2014

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That's me!

That’s me!

And I don’t want you to go out and plagiarize someone’s marketing word-for-word. Take from it what you think will work for your dry cleaning business and then give it a try.

I’ve started 33 companies in my 35 years of business experience, 17 in the dry cleaning business. I know it’s a lot, but I’ve learned a ton about stealing from one industry and using it successfully in another. In fact, all that I use in my dry cleaning business came from other industries and my own past businesses. There is nothing new, just an old idea reworked, tested and used successfully.

The most successful marketing promotion that my members (my clients) use is the bag drop. It comes from three different industries. The dropping it off at the door part comes from the water purification industry, the bag drop letter comes from all the companies that sell products by mail using sales letters and the follow-up post-it notes come from a local pizza parlor.

There is NO knocking on doors used in my bag drop. We don’t use the bag drop to get interest and then knock on their door. We let the bag drop sales letter do all the selling. So this means that an eighteen or a 55 year old can handle the bag drop. We don’t need sales people. So there is no recruiting, training or motivating involved.

We drop off one of our garment bags at the front door of a home in our target area and attach a 5-page sales letter to it. Believe it or not, those that are interested read all five pages and fill out the order form, including their credit card info and leave it on their front porch in our bag full of dirty dry cleaning.

The ones that are not interested leave out the empty bag. We use post-it notes to follow up. I stole that idea from a pizza company leaving a post-it note at my door. Their post-it note had four different coupons to get me into their store. We used to follow up with letter sent through the US Post Office. It was a pain in the neck and it cost a ton. The follow-up post-it note works better and it’s a lot cheaper. We’ve even tested different versions of it to get more sales and more of our bags returned.pizza-post-it

So my most successful promotion came from 3 different companies. I keep my eyes open to all businesses marketing and sales ideas. If I like it, I always try to make it work in my company.

Another promotion that we use is the New Mover Program. My members use a 3-step letter program that I stole from a restaurant. Proietti’s Italian restaurant mails out three letters to all new movers in a five-mile radius around their business. Their goal is to get you in their restaurant and try it out with 2 FREE meals on Whitey the owner. I know Whitey from playing golf with him and this is how I got this promotion.

My goals with the 3 letters that I send out seven days apart is to get my prospect to try my dry cleaning delivery service with $10 of FREE dry cleaning. When I sent out just one letter, I only get half of the new customers I’d get with sending out 3 letters. Before talking to Whitey, I only sent out one letter. He told me that if I sent out 2 more, I’d get a bunch more customers and that’s exactly what happened.

It sounds easy, but it’s not. The only way you can make this work is to test different versions of the letters and be patient. I tested my bag drop program with 17 different letters over eighteen months. It took a while, but it was well worth it.

I’m a student of emotional direct response marketing, so I’ve got a head start on getting these programs to work. But even with that experience, it’s still very challenging. It’s not my opinion of what will work and what won’t, it’s my prospective customer’s opinion that is the deciding factor. Sometimes a couple of changed words can make all the difference in the world.

Keep your eyes open and wide eyed and always be on the lookout for marketing ideas that you like and think might work in your business. You never know what promotion you might come up with that might change your business forever.

As alway, I’d love your comments below.

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Disney-ize Your Dry Cleaner

Fri, Mar 14, 2014

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What would your dry cleaner look like if you took a bunch of business ideas from Walt Disney and his team? I’m sure it would revolutionize it! Why don’t you give it a try.

I just got back form a trip to Disney World. I went in thinking how a dry cleaner could use Walt’s ideas and use them in his business and this is what I came up with:mickeymouse

1. Create Your Customer’s Experience – Disney does not leave this up to chance. They have thought of every possible twist and turn when it comes to their customers. They guide the customer in the direction they want the to go to maximize their profits. You buy the tickets from them, you stay in their resorts, you ride their transportation and of course you go to one of their 5 or 6 resorts. Everything is upbeat and positive. They want you in a good mood so that you’ll spend lots of money, come again and tell all your friends and family about your experience.

So what can you do in your dry cleaning business to Create Your Customer Experience? First of all, your cleaners should be spotless—and that’s your vans as well as your stores. Your decorating should be pleasing to the eye, not a mish-mosh design that you put together over the years. Your signage should be educating and/or selling them on your ideas and your services. All your communication, your letters, emails, texts, videos, flyers, signage and verbiage should be consistent with your dry cleaner’s goals and ideals.

2. Make It Fun & Entertaining To Do Business With You – I know Disney is in the entertainment business and it’s suppose to be fun, but you should too! Do your drivers and counter people smile when they greet your customers? If they don’t, they should. If they never smile, get rid of him or her. They’re keeping customers away.  From now on, only hire people that are smiling throughout the whole interview. You can’t teach people to smile, but you can hire smilers.mickeymousemoney

One of my members, David Whitehurst has a popcorn machine in his dry cleaner’s lobby. So right away his customers are in a good mood by smelling the popcorn, which makes them think of the circus or the ball game. What can you do? I like to cook, so I create entertaining videos of my cooking and put them on my blog. I get great comments from my customers when I’m out and about. What is your hobby? Can you incorporate it in your dry cleaning business with a little humor? Let your customers see that inner child in you. Most of my members use positive quotes with their weekly voice call reminders. So instead of the reminder calls being invasive, they become a call that our customers look forward to. One of my customers, John Vance (our town judge) says that he can’t wait to see what quote I pick for him each week.

3. Maximize Your Most Valuable Asset—Your Customer – Disney does this the best of any company I know of. They take all parts of their business and sell it to their customer base. They know that the hardest part of any business is getting the customer and once you have them and they trust you, they will buy other things from you. Disney Consulting teaches how to “Disney-ize” your business. I’ve never been, but I heard it’s amazing. So they take something they’ve developed for their business and sell it to other businesses. And those customers came from people that came through their theme parks as kids.

Besides their theme parks, they have motion pictures, DVD’s, animation studios, music studios, TV production, toys, licensing (which includes everything imaginable), Disney Stores, cruises, vacation clubs, traveling shows (Disney On Ice), hotels, and Disney online. I’m sure there’s lots more!

You watch a Disney movie as a kid. You bug your parents to go to one of the Disney theme parks. When you get there, you stay in one of their hotels, eat their food and buy lots of stuff. Most every dollar that is spent on your Disney vacation goes to Disney.

What can you do to maximize your assets? First of all, you can sell your dry cleaning customers more services. You can sell services like rug and carpet cleaning, house cleaning, rug doctor rentals, shoe repair, drapery cleaning and whatever else you can come up with. I recommend a landscaper; car detailer, handyman, painter and I get a commission from these businesses. Once your customer trusts you, you can sell them lots of stuff. What can you sell your dry cleaning customer?

I know this is a lot of stuff to digest. And this isn’t all that you could Disney-ize. You should visit a Disney Theme Park and come up with your own list of ideas for your dry cleaning business. I recommend that you start with one idea and when that’s in place, start on your next idea, and so on.

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7 Skill Sets You MUST Have (Or Develop) To Be Really Successful As A Dry Cleaner!

Wed, Feb 19, 2014

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You must master these skills. They can be learned. They have nothing to do with dry cleaning. Let’s get going.

Surprisingly, none of these skills have anything to do with how to press a shirt or how to fix one of your machines. In fact, if you know how to do these things and can’t resist jumping in, it’s hurting your business. My most successful members—461 and counting—don’t get involved in the day-to-day of their dry cleaners—they don’t even have their offices in the plant. They focus on $50 an hour and up activities. Those are the ones we are going to talk about today.

This is my office and man-cave. I call it Club Cosi--a play on my name.

This is my office and man-cave. I call it Club Cosi–a play on my name.

Dry Cleaner Skill #1: Design Your Business Around Your Life. Not the other way around. Do not become a slave to your business. So how can you design your business around your life? You’ll have to become really good at a bunch of other skills, but it can be done. The first thing that you must do is to decide what that life is going to be. I’ve started 33 businesses in my lifetime, and this has always been a goal for me. After about business 12 or so I came up with some rules to follow when deciding what kind of businesses I should get in to. Rule #1: The business could run without me there physically. I did not want to create a job for myself. And that’s what lots of dry cleaners have ended up doing to themselves. If you’re going to do that, you might as well just go work for someone. Rule #2: Had to be simple enough that an 18 year old could run it when I was gone. And Rule #3: It had to have a residual or repeat income. I’m happy to say that owning a dry cleaner follows all of these rules if you design it that way. My successful members, including myself, do what we want, when we want.  I spend three months in Florida every year away from the cold.

You must have some strong goals to motivate yourself to build your business around your life. My first reason for doing this was prompted by watching the movie, “Dad”. In that movie, Ted Danson took off work for six months and took care of his sick dad. I wanted to be able to do that. And that’s just what happened to me. My dad got sick while he was spending the winter in Scottsdale, AR. I flew down and took him to all his doctor’s appointments. He asked me when I was going home. I told him that I was staying until he was OK. And when he went in the hospital, I was there every day, all day, for two weeks. This would of not been possible if I was not in this business. My daughter is having a baby in October and she just asked me if I could come to Charlotte (I live in Rochester, NY) and watch the baby for a week or two when she starts back to work. Without even thinking about it, I said yes. I have set up my business around my life. It’s been this way for around 17 years now. To make this happen, you have to decide to do it. When you decide, you’ll start making decisions that will get you closer to your goal.

Dry Cleaner Skill #2: Direct Response Marketing. You’ve got to learn and take control of your advertising and learn how to get customers using “emotional direct response marketing.” Gone are the days when you build a store and customers come rushing in. There is way too much competition to do that anymore. You’ve got to realize that you’re really in the business of “marketing your dry cleaner,” NOT in the dry cleaning business. When you get that idea in your head, you’ll really start to grow your business. You’ve got to out fox your competitors and the only way to do that is to learn how to attract customers with Direct Response Marketing. So what is Direct Response Marketing? I’ll tell you what it’s not—it’s not image advertising. Direct Response Marketing is advertising that expects an immediate return. You mail out 1000 advertising pieces and you get 10 new route customers—that’s Direct Response Marketing. Advertising reps will tell you that you need to get your name out there and eventually people will join your route and come into your store. That’s bull$h!t! That’s not how it works in the real business world. When you advertise, you MUST expect an immediate return. If you don’t get a return, you test another ad.

My dry cleaning business is a marketing laboratory for my members. I’m always testing mailers, postcards, sales letters, bag drops and whatever else we come up with. There is no good or bad advertising medium. There are only advertising delivery systems. Val-Pak is neither good or bad, it’s a delivery system. Same goes for mailers, postcards, newspapers, TV, radio and the Internet.

You’ve got to dive into Direct Response Marketing. I can’t teach it to you in this article. The best way I know how is to get some books from Dan Kennedy. A good start is going to Amazon and ordering his book, “The Ultimate Sales Letter” and you’ll learn a ton about Direct Response Marketing.

Dry Cleaner Skill #3: Learn Technology. You don’t have to master it. But you need a working knowledge of how it works. If you have trouble sending and receiving texts, you’re in trouble. If you do not have a smart phone, you’re in trouble. If you can’t go on Google and find something, you’re doomed! Now that I’ve terrified you, let me explain what I mean by learning the technology.

You should have an email autoresponder. Once you capture a prospects name and email, your autoresponder will email them until they become a customer or they opt out. If you don’t use email, you’re throwing away business. And once they become a customer, you’ve got to keep in contact with them and sell them more or what you’re selling. Go sign up for Constant Contact, Chimp Mail or Aweber and learn how to send out emails. They make it very easy to do now. If you know how to use Word, you can send out emails.

You or someone in your company should be writing a blog for your dry cleaners. The best blog to have should be set up by WordPress. My blog is connected to my website. If you can use Word, you can write a blog. If you do this correctly, you’ll get ranked on the first page of Google.

You should have a working knowledge of Google Places, Bing and Yahoo Local, and a bunch of the other sites that list your business. Just Google your dry cleaners and see what these are saying about you. Claim your business in all of these sites and the many more you’ll find and follow their directions to get listed. This is just a matter of digging around their sites and figuring out how to list your business.

If you have a route, you should be reminding them the night before of their pick-up. My members do this with a text and/or a reminder call. We all use CallFire.com and VoiceBlaze.com to do this. Again, just follow their directions and you’ll be all set. And if you can’t figure it out, seek some help form a teenager.

You should have a smartphone. I have an iPhone. You can log into your computer remotely and see what’s going on when you’re at the beach. You can get your emails while you’re making the turn during your golf game. You can send documents and files from your DropBox app no matter where you are. When you have a smartphone, your office with you wherever you are. Get a smartphone!

Getting with technology is nothing more than digging in. It’s like learning another language (I think it’s easier). Seek help from others. Get a working knowledge of how all this technology stuff works. If you don’t, your competitors will blow you away.

Dry Cleaner Skill #4: Sell Related Products To Your Customers. You’ve got their trust as a customer with your dry cleaning and laundry. Why not sell them something else? What else could you sell them? I started a house cleaning business ten years ago. ALL my house cleaning customers initially came from my customer base. I just sent out a simple email and we were cleaning houses within a couple of days. It now brings in a substantial amount of moola to our business. We also rent out Rug Doctors. I contract out carpet and rug cleaning. We have members that clean drapes on site, do shoe repair, duct cleaning and a bunch more services. I also recommend (and get a commission) my handyman, my plumber, my gardener, my auto detailer, my painter, my wallpaper guy and some other services. You should be selling other things and making money off of it. It’s easy once you have the customer base. In most cases it’s just making your customers aware of what service you have by sending out an email to get their business.

Dry Cleaner Skill #5: Create A Category Of “ONE” In Your Market. What do I mean by this? You’ve got to do and be so much more than the other dry cleaners in your town that your customers ONLY want to do business with you.

I’ve been call the Nordstrom’s of the dry cleaning business. And this was before I even tried to be better. I just did what was natural and fun for my business. I treated my customers as good friends. When I communicate with them with our weekly reminder call, emails, letters and by phone, I have fun and I’m very upbeat. Our weekly reminder calls include a “quote of the week” and if it’s a holiday, I say something funny and goofy. People want to be entertained. They want to feel good doing business with you. They  want to want to do business with you?

How do you do that?

David Whitehurst has popcorn machines in his three lobbies. His counter people are always smiling. All his new customers get a “hand-written” thank you note a few days after they visit his store. When was the last time you got a hand-written thank you note? I’m sure it’s been a while. And it wasn’t from a business, I bet!

When you do things like David and I do, you are creating your own category. What can you do to make your business unique? I’m sure you’ll come up with something.

Dry Cleaner Skill #6: Become An Entrepreneur, NOT a Business Owner. I’ve been called an entrepreneur. I’ve started 33 businesses and I’m not done yet. One is on the horizon in the next few months. An entrepreneur thinks differently. He/she doesn’t think just in the dry cleaning box. He thinks about how he can help his customers and at the same time, make a bigger profit. He also takes parts of his business and makes money off of them.

I took the marketing part of my business (which I enjoy the most) and I license it. It’s an asset that was sitting dormant until I unleashed it and started making money off of it.

Entrepreneurs are never standing still. They are always looking to expand their business and get into other businesses. If you’re standing still, you’re really going backwards. Entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to better do their business with the newest and bestest (I know this is not a word, but I’m an entrepreneur and I can make words up, so I do) things on the market. They are looking at other businesses and trying to figure out how that would work in their business.

You’ve got to have this wide-eyed wonder about business. You should wake up every day excited to be in this wonderful business and all the exciting things that come with it. You should have more on your plate than you can handle—ALWAYS!

Dry Cleaner Skill #7: Master Time Management. One hour of uninterrupted time is equal to eight hours of interrupted time. This quote is from Peter Drucker. He wrote a book called the “Effective Executive” and is a MUST read if you are going to master time management.

We all have the same amount of time. Some of us do more in that time. Some dry cleaners have built $5,000,000 businesses and some have $250,000 businesses. And both of those owners have the same amount of time. What’s the difference?

The small dry cleaner can’t get out of his own way. He’s fixing all the machines, doing lots of pressing and getting involved in all the little decisions of his business. He’s either afraid to delegate and he thinks he’s saving money by doing all of these things himself. Whatever his thinking is, he’s wrong. Unless of course, he wants to stay small and he enjoys all the tinkering. If that’s the case, and that’s you, you shouldn’t be reading this article.

So how do you get out of your own way? First of all, you’ve got to want to. You’ve got to be sick-and-tired of where you are in your business and you have to want to change. I’ve had a bunch of my members that were still driving their vans doing deliveries when they started with me. And the first goal we set was getting them out of their van as soon as possible. Bernie Lambert in South Jersey was in his van for 11 years when I met him. Within 18 months he was out of his van. Now he spends the majority of his time getting more new customers for his delivery business.

David Whitehurst in Birmingham, AL used to have his office in his plant. He was interrupted every 5 minutes with things that his employee’s handle now without him there. He started spending an hour in the morning in his home office. Within six months he moved out of his plant to spend full time in his home office. David’s business has more than doubled in the last five years.

Start with one hour of uninterrupted time a day. Stay home or go to Starbucks (where I’m at right now) for an hour in the morning. Focus on what your business needs to be more successful. Once you get used to one hour a day, extend it to two hours and so on. You will be amazed at how much you get done.

I work out an old pool house that I turned into my office and man-cave as you can see. When I really need to focus, I turn off my iPhone and get to work. You’ve got to create your own space to work uninterrupted. If you don’t, you are doomed to interruptions all day long and days of getting nothing done.

Hire someone else to do all the $10 an hour work. You ONLY focus on $50 an hour work and up. You work on tasks that you and ONLY you can do. And don’t trick yourself to think that you’re the only one that can repair your machines. Hire someone to do that. You stop doing it! You stop pressing! You stop hanging around your plant just to hang around there. Get working on things that will grow your business!

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