National Clothesline
National Clothesline
Getting everybody on board
When I get a phone call from a potential client or current client who informs me that sales are down from the previous year, the first thing I ask is how many stores and how many vans they have.
James Peuster
Then I proceed to inquire about conversions, sales, marketing, etc.
What usually happens is that one of the hurdles that they come across is not external competition, but internal competition. It is a situation in which the stores and the routes are competing with each other!
Terms like “my customer” can be heard from store to store and van to van. Situations arise where stores will not convert customers to the delivery department because of fears, pride, lost bonuses, job security and simple complacency.
One thing is for sure — companies with this issue are dealing with a bigger issue than outside competitors striving to get the customer. With all the aggressiveness out there, the time is now to get everyone on board with building the business together — not separately.
I hear all the reasons that owners and managers use to convince themselves that this either isn’t happening or a big deal. Some have said that internal competition is a good thing, while others say it doesn’t affect anything.
However, more discounting tends to occur when stores strive to retain “their” customers instead having them go on the route. Customers either get coupon-spoiled or discouraged when routes and stores collide. Stores and routes shouldn’t compete — they should complete!
It really is about solidifying the business in general. Instead you are faced with fragmented units of your operation and this does lead to lost business.
You are at war with some of the other drycleaners in your area. They are selling and trying various forms of guerilla marketing in order to “steal” customers away and overtake the territory or market share.
If individual countries tried to fight all by themselves, they would be overtaken quickly. This is what can happen to you and I see it all too often on both sides.
When we are canvassing neighborhoods, we hear it from the prospects. “I don’t think they do pick-up and delivery” is a common phrase, even though we know that they do. I secret shop competitors and have heard a counter person say, “We take better care of you here than our route driver does.”
Unfortunately, you can hold every member of your staff accountable and this does happen.
By the same token, route drivers must realize that they need the stores to grow their routes. It provides credibility as well as a launching pad to build from. They should also promote the stores if someone doesn’t want to go on the delivery service.  
Do a litmus test on your staff and see how each side communicates the importance of each service in the continual development of your drycleaning business. Your competition is chomping at the bit if they know you don’t work together as a team. In fact, your customers see it as well.
James Peuster offers onsite training and all aspects of routes. Management, marketing and maintenance are all key components in developing a million-dollar route.  You can listen to his radio programs on
He can be contacted at (816) 739-2066 or