What Is Your Biggest Customer Service Problem?  

Wed, Jul 13, 2016

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Problem is not a word I like to use. I like to say, “opportunity” or “challenge”, but I’m saying PROBLEM here so that there is no mistake in what I’m asking you.

customer_service

What is your Biggest Customer Service Problem at the counter, on the phone, or from your delivery guy (and I mean you ladies too)?

According to Keith Lee, Out-Nordstrom Nordstrom (available at KeithLee.com and I highly recommend it at $2.97), he says, “The biggest problem business owners make by far, is they don’t train their team to deliver great customer service.”

Keith goes on to say, “They hire people, tell them to give good customer service and beat them up once in a while when they don’t give good service; but they never train their staff to deliver great customer service. To compound the problem, the people they hire get such terrible service everywhere they go that they think just “handling” a customer, and not being rude, is good customer service. They think indifferent customer service with an attitude of ‘I’ll wait on you but I really don’t care if you’re here or not’, is just fine.”

It’s NOT!

The first thing you gotta do is hire the right people. Here are some ideas for you to do that.

Hiring Idea #1: Hire Smiling Faces & Nice Team Members – If some guy walks in with a frown on his face… DON’T hire him. If he doesn’t have a smile on his face during the interview, he’s never going to smile—don’t hire him.

Hiring Idea #2: Hire ONLY People You Like – Hire someone you’d like to hang out with after work or on weekends. Hire someone that is a good neighbor. Hire someone that is a good listener. I know what you’re saying, “Hey Greg, that kind of person costs way more than minimum wage.” Wrong! You can find them. I’ll tell you how.

Hiring Idea #3: Hire With The Intention Of Training Them With Life & Business Skills They Can Use For Their Dream Job or Business – When I find the right person for the job (and you will if you believe you will and I also use the ‘Law of Attraction’ to help me out. I’d explain it, but it’s own article), I explain to them that they won’t have this job for life; it’s a transition job to get them to their dream job or business. I go on to explain that I’m going to teach you skills that you can use in business and life that will get you the best jobs and even skills you can use in running your own business. I go on to tell them to be and do their best because it’s training for the really good jobs they’ll get later in life. If someone is older or even retired, they should have all of these skills already.

By the way, hiring retired folks are the bomb. They don’t need the money (so you can get a $50/hr person for $10 an hour or so). They just want to get out of the house and do something that makes them feel productive. Most people when they retire get bored and want to do something. They show up on time; are diligent, and get things done right. I have 2 retired guys per van. One guy works Monday/Tuesday and the other works Thursday/Friday. Both of them know all the routes so that if one wants off, the other covers. You’ll NEVER have to go out on deliveries again.

Hiring Idea #4: Hire In Groups  – I like to hire in at least groups of two. I like to watch how each of them reacts to the other. If I see one of them “rolling their eyes”, I don’t hire him or her. I don’t want him or her rolling their eyes at one of our customers. You can tell if they’re a good listener or if they interrupt. You can find out lots about a person when you put them in a group. And it also creates a little competition, which I think is good.

Here are a few training techniques and ideas for you and your team.

Training Idea #1: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is – Buy a bunch of customer service books and give them to your team members. I recommend:

·      The Simple Truths Of Service, Inspired by Johnny the Bagger, Ken Blanchard and Barbara Glanz.

·      Inside the Magic Kingdom – Seven Keys to Disney’s Success, Tom Connellan

·      W.A.Y.M.I.S.H. – Why Are You Making It So Hard For Me To Give You My Money, Ray Considine & Ted Cohn

·      Customer Satisfaction Is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, Jeffery Gitomer.

Training Idea #2: First Training Session Immediately Within 10 Minutes On Day 1 – You do this training the minute they start their new job. You teach them to give eye contact within 10 seconds of someone stepping into your counter lobby. Acknowledge your customer within 10 seconds so that they know that you know they are waiting. Have you ever walked into a store and there are employees running all over the place, but not one of them acknowledges you? How does that make you feel? Unwanted? Like crap? When that happens to me, I just want to leave! Very, very, very important!

Training Idea #3: How To Answer The Phone – This is very simple—BUT—very important. The telephone is the gateway to your cleaners. All you have when someone is calling in is that voice and attitude on the other end of the phone to welcome your customer or prospective customer to your dry cleaners. Answer the phone with a smile on your face and say, “Hi… Colosi’s Cleaners, Greg speaking”. Say it upbeat with a smile. Your smile will jump across the phone line and grab your customer’s attention. Your customer will smile too. It’s that simple. I learned this from our local billionaire Tom Golisano at lunch one day.  He started PayChex 30 years ago.

I hope you take some of these ideas and put them to work in your dry cleaning business.

Go to it!

Give me your comments below. Love to hear them.

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Eye Contact – Store Marketing

Tue, Jun 28, 2016

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How important do you think it is to have eye contact with your customer within 10 seconds of them entering the store?eye-contact

I hope you thought it was very important–because it is!

Have you ever walked into a retail store and all the sales reps were talking to someone? And this one you walked in, no one gave you eye contact. How did you feel? Like you’re not there-right? You felt like a non-entity. You felt like you were a nobody. And in some cases, you just got fed up and walked out.

Do you remember the time you walked in a retail store and everyone was busy, but one (or more) of the sales people caught your eye and gave you the look like, “I’ll be with you in a minute.”? How did you feel? You felt loved, adored, wanted and more I bet.

That’s the kind of experience you want your CSR’s to give your customers when they walk into the front of your store.

So, how do you teach that?

It’s the very first training you give your new CSR’s. You just go out with him/her at the counter and show them how to do it. It’s that easy. It’s the first thing you should teach your CSR’s besides explaining to them that they smile ALL the time at the counter. You can’t teach them to smile, but you can hire CSR’s that naturally smile. Everyone wants to be smiled at. Give it to them all day long at your counter.

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

Thu, Jun 23, 2016

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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 to my membership:

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 35 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 and trying to help.

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 Keep Your Counter & Route Customers & Getting Them To Spend More With Your Dry Cleaning Business!

Wed, May 11, 2016

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Every counter and route customer represents hundreds if not thousands of dollars in potential revenue, referrals, and lifetime customers.happy
value, so that ONE lost customer starts to look pretty damn important.

It’s 5X as hard to get a new customer as it is keeping one. So what can you do to keep your valuable customers from jumping ship and joining your competition?

#1: Communicate With Them On A Regular Basis – most dry cleaners NEVER email, telephone or send a letter to their customers EVER! Is that you? I hope not.

The FIRST STEP is to send them a “Handwritten Thank You Letter”. When they first come into your store or join your route, they get a hand written note from you, your CSR’s or your route manager.

What do you say? You say, “thank you coming in and please call me at 555-1234 if you have any questions” and then offer them 10% to come in again. Tell them just to bring the thank you note for the discount.

The SECOND STEP is to send out a formal “Welcome Letter”. In this letter you tell them your story, about your business beliefs, how the route or counter works for them and how you welcome complaints. Yes…complaints. The only way you’ll find out if you’re doing something wrong. Our Welcome Letter is 4 pages long.

The THIRD STEP is to send them an email. Take your Welcome Letter and email it to them. Why both? Some people like snail-mail, some like email.

The FOURTH STEP is to send out a “Welcome Package”. Include one of your newsletters (if you have one) and a free gift. We give them a micro fiber cloth and instruct them how to use it to keep their shower clean.

The FIFTH STEP is get them set up on an email autoresponder. You can use MailChimp, Constant Contact or Aweber to name a few. Create 50 emails and send out one a month. Our members use a cleaning tip, household or other every week with either the special of the month or an offer to refer their neighbor. If your customer does not like getting emails, they can opt out. 90% will continue getting your emails.

And the SIXTH STEP is for route customers only. You must remind them the night before their pick-up with an automated phone call. This is especially critical for new customers to get them in the habit of putting out their dry cleaning on their pick-up day.

It is important to continue these calls because your customers sometimes forget. And when they forget, they don’t want to call you and bother you for a pick-up. So they run to the closest dry cleaner. And if that’s not you, you’re starting to lose them. If this happens 3 or 4 times, they’re gone! You’ve lost a customer. If their reminded every week with a call, they most likely won’t forget to put out their dirty dry cleaning.

Best to call 7pm the night before. Your customers always have the option to opt out. 10% will. 90% will continue to get your calls. We start out the call with the “quote of the week” and remind them to leave out their dry cleaning the following morning. You can use VoiceBlaze.com or CallFire.com to handle your calls for you.

You can also start to control the volume of dry cleaning to shift from early in the week to later in the week by reminding them Wednesday and Thursday night for Thursday and Friday pick-ups. This will level our your van and allow you to handle more volume per van.

one#2: Create A Category Of “ONE” In Your Market – Grant Carson in sunny California has created a “Category of One” in his market for his delivery business. How does he do it? Whenever he gets a call for a pick-up (and it could be Sunday afternoon), he goes and gets it. If someone calls early and they need it back the same day, one of Grant’s people take care of it.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “This guy is losing money hand over fist by having his employees go out on these missions.”

Or you can look at it like Grant does. Each time his dry cleaning delivery company does something like this, he creates a “WOW” experience. His customers know that if they’re in a pinch, “Super Grant” will come to the rescue.

Guess what happens when one of these “Super Grant” recipients gets asked about what dry cleaners they use? That’s right. They go on and on about Grant’s dry cleaning pick-up and delivery service. Grant gets tons of referrals and very rarely loses customers.

He looks at these out-of-the-ordinary pick-ups as opportunities to create a SUPER CUSTOMER. That super-customer will recommend his delivery service until the cows come home. Wouldn’t you? I would. I’m getting excited just writing about this and I wanna use his service.

David Whitehurst in Birmingham, AL has a popcorn machine in the lobby of his 3 stores. He’s created a fun atmosphere in each of his stores. He sends out the “hand-written” thank you notes I told you about and he also has a monthly newsletter. In his newsletter, his dog Champ gives out positive and inspirational advice. People come in all the time asking about Champ.

David and Grant have created a “Category of One” in their markets. No one else can compete with them at their level; therefore they get all the customers.

What can you do to create a “Category of One?”

#3: Respond To All Customer Inquiries With SPEED – you cannot underestimate the power of “Speed.” Amazon has taken over the world with their 2-day free shipping and in some markets, same day shipping. Nothing like ordering something online and getting it the same or next day. Sometimes it’s faster than if you were to go to the store yourself or it seems like it.respond.with.speed

Member Stephen Moore is a “SPEED FREAK”. When a new customer signs up on his website for his delivery service (and lots do), he gets a text. What does he do? He calls them immediately and arranges for a pick-up within the hour. His new customers are amazed at how fast his delivery company handles this. Stephen handles all new customers. This way it gives his a change to give them the right impression right off the bat.

And along with that first pick-up, Stephen leaves his Welcome Kit, which includes lots of goodies along with his newsletter.

And when his dry cleaner gets calls, they handle all inquiries with speed being paramount.

You don’t want your customers going anywhere else. I hope you take some of these ideas and put them to work in your dry cleaning business.

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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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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Find Out The ONLY 2 Ways To Build A Concentrated Residential Route!

Mon, Mar 14, 2016

7 Comments

There are many, many ways to get route customers. There’s your website, PPC, blogging, flyers, mailers, referral programs, your van, coupons, converting at the counter, newspaper, radio, TV, Cable, door hangers, telemarketing (in some parts of the country), newsletter, celebrity endorsement, ValPak (shared mailings), EDDM, new mover mailers, sell a coupon book, fundraising, postcards, post-it’s, bag drops and door knocking.

All of the above methods will get you route customers if done correctly, the last two—bag dropping and door knocking—will give you the concentrated residential route you’ve always dreamed of.

The bag I used for bag dropping.

The bag I used for bag dropping.

Lets talk about bag dropping first: I’m not talking about dropping off a bag and then following up with a knock at their door (that’s door knocking), I’m talking about dropping off one of your printed garment bags with a sales letter and order form attached. And then following up with a post-it note 3 or 4 times to get a bunch of customers and the majority of your bags back. That’s a PURE bag drop and the kind that I teach.

When I started my dry cleaning delivery business back in 1996, I got my first 300+ customers by knocking on doors. All you need to get started is a good presentation and the intestinal fortitude to go out and face rejection.

During the early afternoon, I would find the retirees and the people that didn’t do much dry cleaning too. But my best candidates where the homes where no one was home. I suspected that both spouses were working and they both used dry cleaning and that’s why no one was home.

At night from about 5:30-8:30 would be my prime door knocking time. I didn’t want to waste it on prospects that didn’t do any dry cleaning, so I weeded them out during the afternoon. My job at night was to go knock on the “not home’s” from that afternoon.

I would get 3-5 news customers every night using this method. My record was 28 new customers in one week. Most weeks I would get 15+ new route customers. I’d go out Monday through Thursday. I tried going out on Saturday’s without much success. Most of them were out running their kids around to sporting events.

And then I discovered bag drops. I was tired of going out at night and missing time with my kids, so I stared experimenting with bag drops. I didn’t want to go out and knock on doors and wanted to come up with something that would get me concentrated route customers like door knocking did.

It was a bigger chore to figure out than I thought. It took me 18 months of trial and error to get it to a point that was very profitable.

I ended up with a 4-page sales letter and an order form with testimonials on the back.

I tried doing the bag drops with plastic bags. I tried it with counter bags with no printing—the ones you could buy cheap. I tried following up with letters sent through the post office. I tried “percentage off” offers. I tried “dollar off” offers. I tried FREE dry cleaning offers. I tried dropping in all kinds of neighborhoods. All of this took me 18 months to figure out.

After 18 months I was consistently getting 5 brand new route customers with every 100 bags I dropped. I used garment bags with my logo and followed up with post-it notes and ended up getting 70% of my bags back.

A $10 FREE Dry Cleaning offer worked better than 50% off and it also worked better than $50 in free dry cleaning. I tried a bunch of percentage off offers and tried giving $50 dollars, $40 dollars, $30 dollars and $20 dollars off. $10 worked the best. Go figure!

I tried 17 different headlines on my bag drop letter before I found the “Holy Grail” of bag drop headlines. It was a lot of work. I almost gave up several times even through I came from a direct response advertising background. It was the hardest direct response nut I’ve ever had to crack.

So there you have it…THE TWO BEST WAYS TO GET CONCENTRATED RESIDENTIAL ROUTE CUSTOMERS!!

Do one. Do both. Do something now! I can help.

I’d love your comments below.

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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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10 Business Building Tools For Your Dry Cleaning Business!

Wed, Dec 23, 2015

5 Comments

Who should be taking care of the marketing of your dry cleaning business?

Should you pass it off to one of your employees? How about an advertising agency? Or your Valpak rep?

You the owner should be orchestrating all of your marketing and advertising—NO one else!

This is the most important job you have in your dry cleaning business bar none!Lifetime.value

Anyone can run a plant. Anyone can deal with your customers. Anyone can spot. Anyone can press. Anyone can turn on the boiler in the morning. These can be taught. You can train people to do all of these tasks.

You CAN’T train someone to market your business. ONLY you can do this.

You are the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of your dry cleaning business.

The most successful dry cleaning owners I know, don’t even have an office in their plant, it’s in their home away from all the chaos.

Now that you understand this, let’s talk about the first (and most important) of the business building tools you can use.

Business Building Tool #1: Figuring Out The Lifetime Value Of A Route Customer – You must know what your customers are worth, so you can determine how much you’re willing to spend to get one.

Most dry cleaners (and for the most part, most business owners) have no idea what they would pay for a customer. I ask this of dry cleaners all the time. Most of them just throw out a number like $30. I then ask how they came up with that number. They have no idea. I guess it sounded good, they say.

I’d be willing to pay up to $125 for a new route customer. How did I come up with that? My average route customer generates $61/month or $732/year. 22% or $161 of that is pure profit. And I haven’t even gotten into year 2, 3 and so on. If you’ve got a plant, your gross profit is probably 50% of that or $366. Your fixed costs like rent, computers, and staff (for the most part) doesn’t change.

The going rate to purchase a quality route these days is about 50% of revenue. When you buy a route, you’d be paying $366 for every route customer.

If you knew ahead of time what each customer would generate and how long they would be with you, it’d be easy to come up with a number you’d pay for customers. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. You’ve got to do your homework and figure this out.

So if you look at it this way, $30 is REALLY CHEAP to get that customer. And $125 isn’t too bad. The good news is, is that you’ll get route customers at all different price ranges.

Should you only get the ones for $30? NO! That’s wouldn’t be too smart. Why? Because some of the best methods for getting a concentrated route cost you more than $30. I have members that pay $105 for every route customer they get from hiring doorknockers. I have members that pay $75 to get customers through bag drops (and a bunch down to $30 too). The EDDM mailings we do generally cost more to get a route customer. Those range from $80-$125 per new route customer. Getting new route customer from New Mover Mailing cost in the $50 range. Referred customers cost you the least, some almost nothing, but they’re the hardest to get. If you know how to set it up, you can get a flow of them coming in. We give the new referred customer $10 in dry cleaning and the same to our customer that referred them.

This “Lifetime Value of a Customer” is the most important of the 10 Business Building Tools and you must be on board with this before we move on.

ty.noteBusiness Building Tool #2: Hand Written Thank You Note – This one is primarily for your counter business. Let’s say 100 new customers come into your plant this month—only 50 come back next month. Why is that? Because you don’t invite them back, that’s why.

Member David Whitehurst sends out a hand written thank-you note for every new customer that come into his store. His CSR’s do it. He’s scripted 3 different notes that his people can use. He picks the better handwriting and spelling CSR’s to handle this. He’s got a folded note card with his logo on the front. The note goes something like this: “We noticed that this was your first visit to Champion Cleaners and just wanted to let you know if you every need anything special, please don’t hesitate to ask.” It’s that simple. He doesn’t even give them an incentive like “20% off your next visit” like some of my other members do to get them coming back.

David gets 72% of his first time customers to return! That’s HUGE! Because you’re probably only getting 50% of them back.

When was the last time you got a personalized, hand-written thank you note? Not in a while, I bet. It’s a lost art. People get excited about getting something hand addressed and hand written. Just as a side note: don’t put a return address on the plain white envelope and use a live stamp. This adds to the excitement.

David has a system set up for this that all he had to do is monitor it once in a while. Could you do this? I think you could. And it’s cheap! No labor cost. The CSR’s can do it during their down time. Just paper and stamps is your cost to get 22 more customers for every 100 that come in the door.

Business Building Tool #3: Route Reminder Calls – You’ll get 11-20% more revenue on the weeks you use those robotic reminder calls. You know the ones—the calls from your doctor, dentist, cardiologist, etc. Those ones are useful, but the other ones bugging you are a pain in the %#@! So how to we get around that and turn these reminder calls into a welcome guest instead of a unwanted pest. That’s right. Our customers like our robotic reminder calls they get every week. Mine have been getting them for over 10 years and some of my customers that have moved away still want to get them.

How do it do it?

I attach a “Quote of the Week” to each reminder call. I get customers saving them and gathering their kids around for the lesson of the week. I get stopped in Starbucks thanking me for the quotes. I get customers I’ve never met before recognizing my voice in restaurants and asking if I’m their dry cleaner. This “quote reminder call” thing works like a charm and builds customer loyalty too.

My script goes something like this: “Hi, this is Greg with Colosi’s Cleaners. This is just a friendly reminder that tomorrow is your pick up day. And this week’s quote is from Abraham Lincoln—he says…….

It’s sweet, short and people love it! Around the holidays I spruce it up a little bit by adding Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to the mix. Use your imagination. Your customers will love it.

Here’s what happens if you don’t use reminder calls. Not all of your customers are organized. Most are not. Especially when you get a brand new route customer, you’ve got to train them for their pick-up day. If you don’t send out a robo reminder call and one of your customers forgets to put out their dirty dry cleaning, they won’t call you and tell you to come back. They’re embarrassed. What will they do? They’ll run to the cleaners around the corner for just this time (they think). Next week they forget again and they run around the corner again. Before you know it, you’re out and the cleaner around the corner is in. They’ve made new friends. And if that’s not your store, you just lost a customer. It happens that easy.

Check out VoiceBlaze.com to do your robo reminder calls for you.

Business Building Tool #4: Google My Business – I’m sure you have this done, BUT there is the right way to GoogleMyBusinessNEW
populate this site and there’s the wrong way. First of all, it’s FREE! There is room for 26 photos. You’re smiling face should be the profile photo (Why? People want to do business with other people, not some faceless corporation.) And then you’ve got these 5 categories to put photos in: Interior, Exterior, Photo’s at Work, Team, and additional photos. Fill up all these spots with everything you’ve got. Get pictures of your van, the inside of your store, photo’s of your employees, photo’s of all the things you do and then whatever else you can come up with. Google wants you to fill all the slots—so fill them.

How many reviews do you have with Google? If you don’t have more than 10, you better get some more. How? Start asking your customers to post a review when they say something nice to you about your business. This could be on the phone or at your counter. You could also send out an email asking your customers to write a review. Reviews are important. They will get your dry cleaner on page 1 of Google when someone is searching for a dry cleaner.

You’ll also want to set up your business on Google+. Didn’t know you could do it, so I just did it. Hey! Things on the Internet are changing rapidly and you gotta change with them.

Business Building Tool #5: Write blog posts on your blog – If you don’t have a blog, you better get one. One of the simplest things you can do to get your dry cleaner listed on the first page of Google is blogging. Google owns 67% off all searches and if you’re on their first page, you can bet you’re also on Bing’s and Yahoo’s too.

How do you write a blog that will get you on the first page of Google? I’m going to give you the short version here in this article. First of all, your blog post must have one of the top keywords for your dry cleaning business to work. In the title, you should have [keyword] [city or town] [state] and [zip code] to make it work. Then you must sprinkle this into the first paragraph and towards the end of your article.

Here is an example of the headline for one of your blog posts:

“Pittsford NY Dry Cleaner Offers FREE Pick-Up & Delivery In 14534”

“Dry Cleaner” is the number one keyword in most markets. “Dry Cleaners” is number 2 and “Dry Cleaning” is #3. I’d write 3 posts right away with these 3 keywords in them and the city, state and zip code information. Be creative and write weaving this information into your blog post. Once you do that, you’ll find your name showing up on the first page (or better yet, the top of the first page) of Google, Bing and Yahoo.

newsletter-iconBusiness Building Tool #6: Write a newsletter – David Whitehurst from Champion Cleaners in Birmingham, AL says, “The biggest thing a newsletter can do for you is customer retention through connecting with a customer as a person instead of some faceless business, especially if you’re delivering.” David sells other services through his newsletter like carpet cleaning. He mailed out 550 newsletters last month and about one third of the cost was paid through getting carpet-cleaning jobs. He does this with a carpet cleaner he has contracted and gets a commission. David takes our monthly newsletter template and changes a few articles to customize it.

Business Building Tool #7: Emailing – If you’re not emailing your customer base, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to sell them more of your services. The biggest objection I get with emailing is that you don’t want to alienate your customers. I understand that and I don’t want to alienate mine either. BUT, and this is a big but—it’s not your job to decide if you’re customers want your information or not. It’s their job. They can always opt out. With all the email autoresponder companies, you have to easily show them how they can “unsubscribe.” If you’re skittish about this, you can put your “unsubscribe” info into at the beginning of your email message instead of at the end. I see lots of companies doing this now.

I rent “Rug Doctor’s” through my emailing. I sign up customers for our house cleaning business there too. I let them know about the holiday delivery changes. I give them household and garment cleaning tips. I send out around one email per week. About 90% of my customers stay with me and 10% opt out. You’re crazy if you’re not taking advantage of this simple and very profitable idea.

Business Building Tool #8: New Mover Mailers – Do you know how hard it is to find a good dry cleaner? I remember back in the 80’s when I was dry cleaning my customer suits and shirts. It took me 3 cleaners before I finally settled in on one. When someone moves into your territory, they are looking for a good dry cleaner. Why can’t that be you? For our members, we’ve got a tested letter that brings in about 6% of what’s mailed. If you’ve got 100 new people moving into your territory, that’s 72 new customers over the next year. Every little bit helps.

Business Building Tool #9: Bag Dropping – If you don’t mind knocking on doors, you can drop bags at doors in your territory and knock on their doors to get them back. Most of my members don’t knock on doors, so they do a “pure” bag drop and after following up with post-it notes (instead of knocking), 3-8% of homes end up signing up for the their delivery service by leaving their bag out full of dirty dry cleaning. What’s nice about bag dropping is that your customers are in concentrated routes instead of being spread out all over the place.

Business Building Tool #10: Businesses as customers – There are two kinds of business customers you can get. The first is the business as a customer. Customers like hair salons, doctor and dentist offices and the like. The other is getting a lawyers office or an insurance office for the individual people as your customers. You can do this by stopping by those offices and asking them for their business. Or… we’ve got a 3-step letter program that gets the businesses to call you. Either way, it’s a good source of more business for your dry cleaner.

Take one of these ideas this week and put it into use. Make me proud!

And please give me your comments. Thanks.

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How To Use “More Than Money Back” GUARANTEES To Get & Keep Customers!

Wed, Oct 14, 2015

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And I’m not talking about those “wimpy” limited guarantees either. I’m talking about GUARANTEES with some pizzazz and bite to them.

The primary purpose of a GUARANTEE is to take away the risk of doing business with your dry cleaner. You goal is to pave the way for hesitant prospective customers to easily start doing business with you. You want to take away any and all apprehension of giving you that first garment to clean.

So how do you take all the risk and make it “riskless” for your future customer to do business with you?

Take a look at my “Broken Button Guarantee”:

Broken-Button-Guarantee-CopyDoodles2

(I’ve got a little online tool that you can use to create your very own guarantees. Hold on. I’ll tell you about it in a minute)

You might be thinking, “I don’t want to give away $5 bills every day.” If that’s your thinking, IT’S ALL WRONG!

Wouldn’t you want to know that your shirts are going out with cracked and broken buttons? Wouldn’t you want to know immediately when this starts to happen? I do and I know you do too.

The “Broken Button Guarantee” accomplishes two things: First and foremost, you’ll know if a trend of broken buttons is happening in your shop. Secondly, you are telling your future customers that you watch the buttons and that they’re NOT going to get broken buttons from you.

All of your customers have experienced broken buttons from their past dry cleaner and they don’t want it to happen again. You’re highlighting it and letting them know that you know about cracked and broken buttons and that you’ve done something about it.

This gives your customers and future customers the confidence to do with business with you and keep doing business with you. Can you see where I’m coming from?

I did this 19 years ago when I started in the business. I took from what my experiences were with dry cleaners and created certain ways of handling things in my new dry cleaners.

I do not own a plant. I only have a route. I wanted to know if and when broken buttons were showing up on my customer’s shirts and this was a sure-fire way to find out.

At one point I did get a flurry of $5 broken button requests. I think I paid out about $25, but I did find out that there was a problem at the plant with one of the shirt bucks. We fixed it and since then I’ve paid out maybe two or three more times. This was a very small price to pay to find out that we were breaking buttons.

This is another one of my GUARANTEES:$10-FREE-Guarantee-CopyDoodles

If you’ve been following me for some time, you know that I offer $10 in FREE Dry Cleaning to try out my route service. I’ve tested all kinds of offers—the percentage-off ones, the buy-one-get-one FREE offers, the tell-me-how-much-you-spend-in-a-month-and-I’ll-give-you-that-to-you-in-FREE-dry-cleaning offer, the stuff-this-bag-for-$X-dollars (Groupon type) offer and none of them worked as good as the $10 FREE Dry Cleaning Offer. I started at $50 in FREE Dry Cleaning and $10 worked best.

BUT, when you give something away, you’ve got to explain your rationale or they think its TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE!

So I explain: “I’m going give you $10 of FREE dry cleaning to try me out with NO strings attached. You don’t have to give me $1000 in free dry cleaning to get the free $10. There is no obligation of any kind or any other hidden fees. It’s just a simple offer to test the waters. I offer this free dry cleaning so the risk is all mine. If my service is not what I say it is, you’ve lost nothing. Give it a try!” And then I personally GUARANTEE it!

As you can see, there is no *asterisk. If you have an *asterisk, that leads to some fine print, and fine print ALWAYS limits the guarantee. You might as well forget your guarantee, because it’s worth nothing with an *asterisk!

You might be asking, “How do I limit myself from those people (the mooches) who hardly do any dry cleaning and just want the freebie?” We have safeguards against that on our order form and when they call in. A few slip through, but not many.

I’m giving you permission to use my GUARANTEES word-for-word if you like. You can go here and create your own just like I did. It takes only 5 minutes and you don’t need any graphics tech knowledge.

Here’s the site: DC-Guarantee.com

I hope you enjoyed this, but better yet, I hope you start putting these valuable “More Than Money Back” GUARANTEES into action in your dry cleaners NOW!

I’d love to hear your comments below.

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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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