National Clothesline
National Clothesline
The bond between stores and routes
Well, we made it. The Mayan calendar said that 2013 wouldn’t exist and yet here we are, facing a new beginning.
James Peuster
As for the average drycleaner owner, 2013 marks another year of existence with the same challenges and hurdles of being in business. Some of you are thriving; some of your are surviving. No matter where you are, 2013 marks another year of me preaching the same thing over and over-just in other ways and means. But in order to be in business in the next five years, here is what MUST happen this year in order to prevent 2013 of being your own Mayan prophecy.
First of all, I say this each and every year: convert, convert, convert. If you don’t put them on a route, your competition will. I have done dozens of articles on the hows, the whys, and the musts of inviting your existing customers to enjoy the benefits of free pick up and delivery. Two years ago, I compared Blockbuster to our industry and many of you were sold then and there. Realizing that convenience dominates customer service, quality and loyalty, those that converted saw an increase in sales for 2012. Good for you for realizing that we can address the number-one most requested element of customer needs — finding a way to make your product and service easier to use.
Second, I repeat this over and over as well, promote the route at the store, but also promote the store on the route. Your route developer’s business card should have the addresses of your stores on it. Every piece of marketing material should be promoting ALL locations.
If someone does not want to go on the route, push them to the store. If either of your route or retail staff ever say that it is not their job, terminate them on the spot. Everyone must realize the importance of building the bond between stores and routes. The van is a rolling billboard while the store can display marketing materials promoting the route. Again — this is a collaborative effort.
Many owners make excuses for why it is too hard to do the simple one-two approach above to build your business through routes and stores. When I first spoke in front of a group of drycleaners, my Powerpoint was all about how to do this. Funny thing is that it hasn’t really changed since I was first introduced as The Route Pro. Here are 10 simple tips to make this happen. Yes, you may have heard some before, but are you really doing it?
Use different colored bags for your route customers and your store customers. This will give your staff a heads up when someone walks in and it is a very simple way to identify if they are a store customer or on the route.
Educate your counter staff on what to do about route complaints. Your store will get calls sometimes about customer concerns on a route. This is critical: Have the CSR take their name and number down and inform them that they get a call from our route department right away.
Educate your counter staff on what to do when a prospect calls. This happens more than you think; therefore, your CSRs must be trained on the basics of routes. From delivery areas to how it works. Again, have them write down the names of the prospects and pass the information along. This is also essential for store conversions.
Train your route staff to promote the stores as well. We do not want to look separated. If someone has a store complaint from the past, apologize and make it right.
Allow for the consumer to bring the bag in when they miss the driver. This is a real simple opportunity to show that your company is not divided. Don’t overly promote this, but allow this to be part of the routine. For most of you, it does not disrupt too much of your system. However, CSRs have to inform the customer that it will be delivered on their next delivery day. This is another reason to write the pick-up and delivery days on the bag.
Allow for promos to be used at the store or route. Again, united, not divided. Your pricing and VIP programs must be the same across the board. No “store only” coupons and vice versa.
Keep it simple, stupid. The KISS principle is critical here since your staff is busy and multi-tasking. Having a simple dividing line for the routes will allow everyone to communicate the top three elements of how the route works: twice a week; leave the bag out by 8 a.m.; and your days are Monday/Thursday….
Brochures on the counter. Keep them right up front so that customers can look at them and your staff can refer to the information on the brochures.
Hold team meetings regularly. Group meetings, discussion, training, etc., are vital to ensure everyone is on the same page.
No exceptions. Simply put, this is a non-negotiable in today’s world. Remember, they are still your customers.
I am only trying to ensure that you will be in business in the upcoming years. Routes have taken over the industry as more of a necessity for operators to do in order to stay in business. Heck, if you go as far to do routes right, you’ll make a pretty good profit!
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