National Clothesline
National Clothesline
What’s new in the business world?
Can you believe the year is almost over? Have you achieved any of the goals you set for yourself or your company? Did you have any 2012 goals for yourself or your company?
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If not, chances are, your sales are where they were at the beginning of the year or even less. Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
Do not wait until January to start planning for 2013. Start dreaming about where you want your company in 2013 and, as Walt said, “you can do it.”
New technology
The first question this month relates to the newest technology. I was asked about what is new in the business world. Customers love new technology at the counter. Home Depot is now installing the use of PayPal at their checkout counters. Other companies have started using QR codes on customer’s cell phones for payment.
Surprise your customers and make innovative changes to your traditional methodology.
This person was rather naive about technology and asked what a QR code is. I guess he knew what PayPal was because he did not ask about that.
The definition of a QR code is a 2-D bar code that is used to provide easy access to information through a smart phone.
The direction smart phones are moving is more and greater technology. I visited an Apple store and asked the difference between and iPad and an iPhone.
His response was, “They are basically the same except you can make telephone calls on the iPhone.”
How exciting would it be if you can ask your customer if they have a QR code on their smart phone and then you accept payment in that way?
Technology is marching on. Hotels and cruise lines are putting iPads in their higher priced rooms and cabins. It is all about customer convenience.
I want to know what convenience you are providing your customers that your competition does not.
Open on holidays?
When there is a holiday, do you close the day or days after the holiday?
Does your competition close the day or days after the holiday? If your competition closes after a holiday, why don’t you stay open and differentiate your company.
Those companies that close are more interested in taking a day off in lieu of servicing their clientele. My routes ran Monday through Saturday. I wanted to offer better service than the other cleaners did. You are in a service industry. It is crucial to remember that customer service is the most important part of your business.
Testing your email
The next question is regarding the company’s use of email as a marketing tool. The question “Is there a way to find out if there are spam complaints, invalid email addresses  servers that will not accept the email, etc.”
Fortunately, some online tools can test your IP address, domain name and URL and score them for you.
Here are some options for you to consider. AOL Postmaster provides a Reputation Check Tool that will allow you to discover the information. The web address is postmaster.aol.com/Reputation.php.
Another source is Barracuda Reputation. This is a sister site of Barracuda Networks. Among the Barracuda clients are Citibank, Harvard University and IBM. Barracuda Central lets you look up your IP and website reputations if they are stored in their database. The website is www.barracudacentral.org/
lookups.
A free service is Sender Score. Sender Score (www.senderscore.org) is a service that Return Path provides. Return Path is a specialized email certification and reputation scoring entity. This company collects data from 60 million mailboxes, spam filtering, and security companies. It has the ability to check the reputation of the outgoing mail server IP addresses. Hotmail, Roadrunner, Yahoo, and other email networks use Sender Score as part of their filtering decisions.
TrustedSource from McAfee is another available tool. All you do is enter your IP address, domain name, or URL in the TrustedSource Query box to check your reputation and traffic patterns. It will even chart daily email trends. The website is www.trustedsource.org.
Building sales
I constantly get inquiries about how to build or increase sales. Here are seven tips for you to use. Consider them a Christmas or Hanukah present to my readers.
Have a written guarantee. Sid Tuchman did one of the best with, “It’s ready, it’s right, or it’s free.” Another possibility is, “I guarantee you will love your drycleaning and so will your friends.”
Create a sales script for your counter staff. Each CSR or route driver should provide the same message when dealing with a new or established customer. Do not forget to use the customer’s name at least three times.
Have a USP or Unique Selling Proposition. Determine what is special or unique about your company. Then blow your own horn.
Have a printed list of customer benefits. On that list should be the four most important things about your cleaning company. In addition to those four items, include seven reasons why choosing your company is in the customer’s best interest. Also, include testimonials from your best customers on why you are the greatest. If you have a TV at the counter, create a video with customer testimonials broadcast continuously. Blow your own horn again!
Create a relationship with your customers. This means creating rapport and trust. You do this by using the customer’s name, asking the customer questions, not being afraid to introduce yourself. I have been to some cleaners where the owner did not want to be identified as such.
Reward the customer. Give customers something extra that they did not expect. Doing this gives the customer the perception that they are getting a great deal. Make certain that the perceived value is high and your cost is low.
Provide a quality product. If you do not know what a quality product is, go out and visit the most expensive plant in your area. See what they do that you do not do. If you can visit more than one other cleaner, do so.
The more plants you visit the greater exposure you will have to what is going on in the industry. Somebody, such as the previous owners, who did not know what they were doing, taught many cleaners the business. This is called the blind leading the blind syndrome. Unfortunately, this happens too frequently.
Have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. Do not forget to create a strategic plan for increasing your sales and profits in 2013. Remember to dream.

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Harvey Gershenson operates Sterling Drycleaning Consulting and is a former owner of Sterling Dry Cleaners. A second-generation drycleaner, he has been in the industry since he was in high school. He has served as president of the Cleaners and Dyers Guild of Los Angeles and has served on the boards of directors of the Drycleaning and Laundry Institute and the California Cleaners Association. He is also a guest lecturer for the California Department of Corrections. He can be reached by e-mail at consultme@msn.com or phone at (310) 261-2623. His web site is drycleanerconsulting.com.
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