National Clothesline
National Clothesline
Your chance to be in the spotlight
When February hits, it means another Super Bowl will be coming and going along with all of
the pomp and spectacle that accompanies it… including the astronomical commercial prices.
Prior to the Denver Broncos/Seattle Seahawks matchup for Super Bowl XLVIII, analysts were
estimating that it would cost close to $4 million for a 30-second spot. The reason is simple: last
year’s game attracted about 109 million viewers. However, it’s not just advertising revenue
that enjoys a big bump at this time; many industries also benefit with sales that reach new
Millions of big screen TVs sell during the days leading up to the big game. Costco, for
example, typically sees about a 30 percent surge in TV sales each year in that time period.
Then, there’s the food. Super Bowl Sunday is considered the second biggest eating “holiday”
behind Thanksgiving. Prior to the 2013 Super Bowl, the National Restaurant Association
estimated that 48 million Americans would order takeout or delivery food for the game and
another 12 million were expected to visit a restaurant or bar to watch the game. The National
Chicken Council’s 2013 Wing Report expected more than 1.23 billion wing portions to be
consumed the weekend Baltimore edged out San Francisco with a score of 34 to 31.
Big events elicit big responses. Keep that in mind since this industry’s “Super Bowl” is just
around the corner: the Academy Awards. When the 2014 Oscars air on March 2, there will be
tens of millions of viewers watching live while celebrities model all of the latest glamorous
fashion trends on the red carpet. You can certainly bet that the high-end cleaners who service
such expensive outfits benefit greatly from this time of year, but it’s also an excellent
opportunity for cleaners to offer “Oscar sales” akin to the various “Super Bowl sales” TV
vendors and pizza delivery shops tout annually.
Many people dress up in their finest attire to take part in various Oscar parties all around the
country on the night of the Academy Awards and those tuxedos and gowns still require the
professional finishing touch of a skilled drycleaner. It is also the perfect time of year to remind
your current and potential customers that you are capable of handling any garment, even the
ones worn by the stars that look like a million bucks (though may cost closer to the $10,000 to
$15,000 range). Just be sure to be able to back up your claims. Your customers, like movie
fans, will always remember the biggest flops just as much as they’ll remember the blockbuster
No help from Yelp
When a customer has a problem, the first instinct of most cleaners is to solve it and make
the customer happy. After all, as we have heard over and over, the customer is always right —
sometimes even when the customer is actually wrong.
Cleaners will go to almost any length to fix the problem, which might even include paying a
claim that is not fully justified. This not only secures the loyalty of the customer but also can
lead to positive word-of-mouth publicity that affirms the cleaner’s reputation as a problem-
solver. The important thing is not to win an argument but to win a customer. But what can you
do when you can’t even identify the complaining customer? How can you rectify a problem
without being able to discuss it? This is what often happens when the customer has lodged a
complaint on a review website like Yelp.
It’s a frustrating situation, made even worse by the fact that the complaint is broadcast far
and wide on the internet for anyone to see when your business pops up in a Google search,
which is often the result of someone looking for a “good cleaner.” And it seems that once a
negative review is posted it tends to say there for months or even years. Talk about one bad
apple spoiling the whole bunch!
Cleaners are not alone in having this type of problem with Yelp reviews. The owner of a
carpet cleaning business in Virginia took Yelp to court, arguing that seven negative Yelp
reviews of his business were phony, not to mention defamatory. Yelp says it has a filtering
system designed to prevent the posting of phony reviews, but the circumstances of this case
along with others we know of, suggest that Yelp’s filters are not up to snuff and fake reviews
intended to harm a business rather than inform consumers are getting through.
Trying to resolve a customer’s problem shouldn’t require taking a third party to court. If Yelp
truly wants to serve the public, it should provide a means for consumers and businesses to
resolve problems. At the very least, Yelp needs a better system of filtering out fake reviews,
such as assuring that the complaining customer has actually used the service or purchased the
product he or she is complaining about. If Amazon.com can do it, so can Yelp.