National Clothesline
Tips to get the most out of 2013
If your revenue was down from 2012, it might be time to rethink the way you are running your business. Here are a few tips to get into the right mindset to move forward this year.
Most likely your prices are too low rather than too high. Charge what you are worth. One of the biggest common mistakes is to play the price war with the discounter down the street. It will be the quickest way you will close down.
Avoid the double helix. Advertising when you have no sales (and ultimately have no money to do an effective job) but when you have sales, you don’t market.
It will be rare when you can talk someone into using a new service of yours or convert to a route. It usually will take seven impressions at minimum to convert that prospect to your route.
Keep all your contacts in one place. This also goes for your POS marketing data. Don’t have them scattered in all different programs like Excel, MSWord, Outlook, etc.
Once a month, reach out to your customers and give them something of value. Don’t sell yourself or your products. Send them some tips for caring for their clothes or buying new clothes.
If you are emailing or using social media, shorten those headlines. Limit your headlines to 50 characters or less.
Getting a “maybe” from a prospective route customer is worse than a “no.” Do not employ hope as a marketing strategy for 2013.
Don’t start your day by opening your email. You very well might get lost in it. Do what is most important on your task list first.
When employee goals match your cleaner’s goals, employees will stay.
Ways to grow your cleaner in 2013
If your cleaner isn’t growing, it’s shrinking. So here are a few tips that you might want to keep in mind while preparing your marketing efforts in 2013.
Review your services. If you have the time, analyze your sales figures from the last 12 to 18 months and figure out which of your cleaner’s services and/or products are the best. You don’t need to be all things to all people. Next, look at complementing those services and/or products. Add these to the mix and focus more on the most successful services you have to offer.
Sell online. Now we all know you can’t sell drycleaning online. Or can you? Think about not just selling your route services online but incorporating route tracking, request and an SMS (text messaging) reminder services. These will all help increase your bottom line.
Offer discounts and coupons. Too many cleaners out there believe they have such a great product that they don’t need to offer anything to anyone. They would be wrong. NCH Marketing’s annual consumer survey claims 80.6 percent of consumers reported using coupons in 2012. If you are not offering discounts and coupons to get and keep customers in your store, your competition will. Guess where these customers will go?
Loyalty programs. Everyone from grocery stores to airlines has a loyalty program. Your loyalty program can be as low tech as a punch card system for a free cleaned shirt or discounted cleaning to a higher tech version of incorporating your point-of-sale system into your loyalty program. There are a lot of capabilities of point-of-sale systems nowadays, but many cleaners end up stalling because of the time needed to set them up. Just get something working and then upgrade it when you have the time.
Be smart with your advertising budget
As you decide where to put your advertising dollars in 2013, here are a few must-know trends to consider.
Online is still where it’s at. In 2009 the typical small business had around 25 percent in the general category known as Internet Advertising. This figure has jumped to 40 percent and is projected in the next few years to be around 70 percent. This means one thing: Your competition is spending more ad dollars to connect with current and prospect customers online and so should you.
The Year of Mobile. The growth of mobile commerce has been nothing short of amazing. A phone and tablet in every purse and house. Use this mobile influence to help your bottom line. Create reminder messages for your route or “mobile only” coupons.
For those who do not have a route, using this same reminder service can get your customers clothes off your racks and cash in your registers.
Good-bye daily deal. The daily deal of Groupon and Living Social fatigue is setting in. Studies are showing that a hidden side effect of these daily deals is an increase in bad online reviews that can damage your reputation. And daily Facebook deals will eventually lead to your customers “unfriending” you or, worse yet, completely tuning out your message.
Social merges with local. More and more, local business are carving out at least a small piece of their marketing budget for social media. First and foremost, this requires an understanding of how to handle social media. Get in touch with an online marketing agency if you need help getting started.
Yes, print is here to stay. Despite the hype over social media and mobile, print (direct mail and response) still provide a very reliable and cost-effective lead and revenue generator. With most of your competition going online, there will be less messages to complete over in your customer’s mailbox.

Neil Schroeder has been in the marketing industry for the past 15 years. He is president and creative director of the Golomb Group, developing direct response, social media, in-house promotions and web site campaigns for drycleaners throughout the nation. He can be reached by phone at (800) 833-0560, by email at neils@golombgroup.com or on the web at www.golombgroup.com.