One reason that many cleaners never grow into major business enterprises is that they fail to develop any individuality for their businesses. They blend into the faceless mass of look-alike businesses, and rely solely on location and price advertising to develop new customers. Every once in a while, an operator will come along, who will suddenly leap ahead of the pack and become a local institution, rather than “just another cleaner”, simply because they recognize the value of publicity and promotion, as a method of building their business.
It is very difficult to become well known in today’s marketplace. It’s a rootless venture, to say the least. Approximately, 20% to 30% of the population moves every year. The huge, national corporations tends to capture the most attention. And it is a rare individual whose name you can mention to people on the street, and have it recognized. Outside of the President of the United States, famous television, movie, and sports personalities, and maybe, the occasional, high profile criminal, few people achieve real public recognition.
You could walk down the street, and ask people if they recognize the Vice-President of the United States, or many other lesser office holders and you can be assured the majority of people will not know who they are.
The reason is that there is so much clamor for public attention, that it’s extremely difficult for people to recall names unless they are constantly reminded. Well known television personalities all have high levels of recognition for a particular reason: they have daily or weekly contact with their audiences. They come across as friendly and exciting personalities. In other words, they give people pleasure, and for that they are remembered. That’s the thing to keep in mind when developing the character and image of your business. It should give people pleasure. It should not have any negative aspects to it or be considered a cold-hearted moneymaking machine.
The point is to develop a theme and a character for your business that people will recognize in a pleasurable way. Those entrepreneurs who have had the courage to promote a unique business image to the public have enjoyed great measures of success.
A hometown favorite, that everyone in New Orleans is familiar with, is Al Copeland. His brother owned several donut shops around town and Al eventually purchase one. For several years he struggled, making average donuts in the mornings, while having no business in the evenings. Having his fryers sit idle all afternoon bothered Al. So he began experimenting with different “afternoon” recipes that would utilize this downtime. He gave his experiments away, at first, just to test people’s reactions to dishes he’d created. One day he made a spicy fried chicken. And, being in New Orleans, where spicy foods are preferred, most everyone told him how good it was. Al started making his spicy fried chicken every afternoon, after the morning donut crowd had departed. New customers began showing up just to buy his “special” chicken.
Business was booming, but Al wasn’t finished. He knew that he need to give his brand of chicken an identity that people would remember. Something more then, “that really good, spicy chicken, they make over at the Tastee Donut shop”. He also knew it had to be a pleasant, friendly identity. Since his chicken had a “strong”, spicy flavor, he picked a strong, friendly character. Popeye the Sailor.
I won’t go on to tell you any more about the muti-million dollar franchise Al’s enterprise eventually became. But, I will tell you that a large part of that success was based on the fact that he quickly gave his business a personality that customers enjoyed and remembered.
A footnote that many people don’t know: Al Copeland was, and still is, such a “Rambo” character himself, that be used the Popeye name, logo-style of type, and character image, for about eight years, before King Features (the copyright owners) caught up with him. However, by that time he had already made millions, and was able to negotiate a deal for the continued use of their trademark.
Popeye’s Famous Fried Chicken (He named it “Famous” even when he was a nobody.), demonstrates the value of establishing a specific uniqueness and character to your business to get public recognition of your cleaners.