National Clothesline
More sales from current customers
Want to increase sales dramatically? Then shift your sales focus from attracting new customers to enticing your proven customers to buy again.
The best sales prospect is a prospect that's already converted — in other words, one of your current customers.
Think of it this way: if your business is located in a small town with a population of 1,000 people and you sell drycleaning in that town to every, man, woman, and child, you have saturated your market. Right? Your drycleaning days are over. Is it time to pack up and move on?
No! If you start focusing your sales efforts on your proven customers, you’ll be able to increase your cleaning sales dramatically. And these sure ways to increase sales will help build customer loyalty, too. Try some or all of these ideas:
1. Set up a sales incentive program. Give your counter staff a reason to up sell! Why do so many businesses that rely on their staff to drive sales have incentive programs in place? Because offering their staff the trips and/or TVs for x amount of sales works. Try something like a gift card or free dinner for two. These can be applied to route conversions or signing up new customers for your email marketing and/or Facebook account.
2. Encourage your sales staff to upsell. Essentially, upselling involves adding related products and/or services to your line and making it convenient and necessary for customers to buy them. Just placing more products near your usual products isn’t going to increase your sales much. To upsell successfully, the customer has to be persuaded of the benefit.
For instance, when I last had my carpets cleaned, the cleaner noticed a stain. Instead of just cleaning it up, he drew my attention to it, and showed me how easily and effectively the spot cleaning solution removed all trace of the stain.
Did I buy the spot cleaning solution? You bet. He persuaded me that buying it was beneficial and made it convenient to purchase it. Result: increased sales for the carpet cleaning company.
You can either find an item that will help your customers or upsell them on your pick-up and delivery service or simply mention other items you currently clean like household items. No matter how many times you post a list of services most your customers will never know until you tell them personally.
3. Give your customers the inside scoop. Recently I was shopping at a hardware store. I had picked out an item and was mulling over whether to buy it or not when a salesperson came up to me and said, “I see you’re interested in that Shop-Vac. We’re having a sale next week and all our Shop-Vacs will be 20 percent off. You might want to come back then.”
Guess what? I did, and bought two other items as well.
Lesson: If you have a promotion or sale coming up, tell your customers about it. They’ll come back and probably bring some friends with them, too. You can give your customers the inside scoop by emailing or calling them, too. Don’t make big signs that you are advertising 20 percent off. Just mention that on a specific day you will be having a half-off shirts special. The idea is to keep your current customers in the loop not to offer a discount to everyone that drives by or comes in one time.
4. Tier your customers. There should be a clear and obvious difference between regular customers and other customers, a difference that your regular customers perceive as showing that you value them. How can you expect customer loyalty if all customers are treated as “someone off the street”?
There are all kinds of ways that you can show your regular customers that you value them, from small things such as greeting them by name through larger benefits such as giving regulars extended credit or discounts. Most POS systems can track these numbers about your customers.
5. Set up a customer rewards program. We're all familiar with the customer rewards programs that so many large businesses have in place. But there’s no reason that a small business can’t have a customer rewards program, too. It can be as simple as a discount on a customer’s birthday or as complex as a points system that earns various rewards such as discounts on merchandise.
Done right, rewards programs can really help build customer loyalty and increase sales. The idea is to make it fun, worth their while and make it easy. Complicated loyalty programs with hundreds of disclaimers will get you few results.
Attracting new customers is a good thing. But attracting new customers is not the only way to increase your sales, and is, in fact, the hard way of going about it. Shifting your sales focus to enticing your current customers can make increasing your sales easier and, best of all, build the customer loyalty that results in repeat sales.

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.