What is your most valuable business asset? Inventory? Equipment? Employees? Cash? Real Estate? A Special Process?
The answer, of course, is none of the above. The number one asset in any business is: YOUR CUSTOMERS!
You can survive the loss of any business asset except your customers. Every asset you have, but one, can be replaced. You may be inconvenienced and possibly lose money, but with your customer list intact, you could immediately start over again.
It’s amazing how few drycleaners fully appreciate the value of their customer list. A relatively small percentage religiously work at building their database. It can cost 5 to 10 times as much money to attract a new customer than to sell more to an existing customer. Understanding and utilizing this concept can multiply you business success.
Begin by marketing to your best prospects and, of course, your current customers. Contact them regularly. Assuming those who have done business with you are pleased with your service, people who have tried you are your best prospects for future sales.
The goal here is to create a list of happy customers. Many of them will become raving fans who will recommend you to others. As you continue to sell them additional services, you’ll experience continuous growth and prosperity.
You can begin by finding interested prospects. Clearly, you need a large enough group of people who may have an interest in what you have to offer. They need to be contacted and lured into your place of business. This is where the Golomb Group can help you the most. Through our demographic capabilities, we can give you a satellite view of your available clientele. From there, a marketing program can be developed to bring as many of these prospects as possible into your store.
Creating and mining your database is basically simple. Unfortunately, most drycleaners have incomplete, sloppy, or even no database whatsoever of their customers and prospects. The potential profits, which are lost by not exploiting this opportunity, are staggering.
Your database of current customers (none over 90 days since their last visit) is you key contact list. These people should be contacted at least once a month. We’ve found that unless you are in regular communication with your customers and prospects, they tend to forget about you. Rather quickly. The old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind” is true.
The most efficient way we’ve found to do this is with postcards. When used properly, no other marketing tool can compare with postcards. They grab a prospect’s attention with the impact of a billboard on the highway. Postcards make prospects aware of your services and motivate them to action. All this for a price that will fit any drycleaner’s budget.
You only have a second or two to grab the attention of a prospect. If you miss this opportunity, your offer might as well not exist. But even after you grab their attention, you have to make the offer irresistible and the response easy. This is why the design and wording of your postcard should be left to professionals.
When preparing your postcard, remember that you aren’t in a contest to see who can win the award for being the most unusual. You want to use a postcard that will make money and pay for itself by generating the maximum response for the least expense.
Likewise, sending out unattractive postcards is like taking money and throwing it into the trash. You can also look at it as making a donation to the post office. No matter how good your business is, if you send out a bad postcard, it sends a message to your market that your services may also be below par.
When the job of designing and writing your postcard is left to professionals, like the Golomb Group, it can provide you with an exceptionally versatile marketing tool and can be used in many different situations. Here are several different ways to use this dynamic marketing tool:
Anniversaries. Every year, let your customers know that your business is celebrating its 5th, 10th, 25th, 125th or however many years you’ve been is business. Customers like to trade with businesses that have been around a long time. They automatically assume you do quality work, or you would have gone out of business.
Announcements. Tell your customers about grand openings, special sales, new promotions, new services or even, new store hours.
Birthdays. When entering new customers into your database, ask for the month and day of birth. (Some customers may object to giving the year.) Then each year, send them a postcard wishing them a “Happy Birthday.” You may even want to include a special offer, like one suit cleaned free. This will be an unexpected surprise coming from a business. It’s an excellent way to build customer loyalty.
Bring a Friend. Get satisfied customers to introduce their friends or business acquaintances to your service. For the promotion try offering a discount or a premium to both your customer and the referral, when the friend actually uses your services.
Build a Mailing List. Postcards are the most cost efficient way to reach your entire customer base. Maintain a separate list of customers who have responded to previous mailings. Future mailings to this group will produce phenomenal results.
Coupon. Postcards can be “ready made” coupons: no clipping required.
Customer Follow-up. Have a variety of postcards ready to send out to customers who have visited your store. Examples: “Thanks for Being a New Customer,” “We Miss You,” “Have You Forgotten Your Clothes?”
Holiday Greetings. Don’t limit yourself to just the Christmas holiday. There is some type of holiday almost every day of the year. Find some of the really unusual ones and turn them into a special sale.
Invitation. Use this to invite customers or potential customers to your business for a preferred customer sale, an open house or a plant tour.
Survey. Send out a postcard asking customers to rate your current services or what other services they would like you to offer. Give the customer an incentive to bring the completed survey back to your store.
Hopefully the preceding list will help you think of ways postcards can fit into your marketing strategies. Postcards will help you generate a constant flow of new business.
Most drycleaners don’t contact their customers often enough. I didn’t, myself, for the first several years I was in business. Without realizing it, I was practically ignoring my existing customers. In hindsight, I left a lot of money on the table. Then I became concerned about contacting them too often. That was a fallacy. Don’t worry about offending customers with too many contacts. Properly done, your customers will love you for keeping them informed about new services and special offers.
Without a doubt you will own a goldmine by building a database this is carefully developed and nurtured.