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.
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.