August is Cleaning Services Month here on the Signpost Local Marketing Blog! We’ll be surfacing insights and strategies specifically for marketing your cleaning service and driving more new and repeat business.
Not a cleaning professional? Don’t worry, we’ll still be sharing insights that will help you to promote your local business, acquire new customers, and encourage loyalty. Want your industry to be the next featured month? Drop us a line, and let us know!
With new technology, equipment, chemicals, and approaches challenging you to keep current, running a dry cleaning and laundry business is no easy task. Tougher still is having to consistently generating new business and retaining the loyalty of your existing customer base, with so many competitors attempting to lure them away. It’s essential to remain diligent in your promotion efforts, which in today’s world translates into having a fortified online presence in order to capture more customers looking for dry cleaners or laundry services in your community.
There are more than 825,000 tons of clothes dry-cleaned, annually. It’s a need that most consumers have, though the capacity or specifics may vary. Traditionally, dry cleaners and laundry businesses have been able to stick to phonebooks and yellow pages to be discovered by new customers, but with those days long gone it’s time to get online. Luckily, there isn’t yet as much saturation as in other industries, so there’s great opportunity to maintain the competitive advantage by investing in your online presence.
It all starts with your website: What is your ideal target?
Your dry cleaning business’s online presence starts with your website. It’s important to allocate your resources here so that the look and feel of it exudes quality and cleanliness. It should be informed by the community and target demographics that you service. If you’re near an office park, or area with a lot of businesses, it might be worth tailoring your language, design and emphasis to professionals who are interested in having suits, dress shirts, blouses and dresses dry cleaned on a consistent basis.
You can also cater to them with the types of promotions you run, including a “clean three dress shirts or blouses and get one free” type of deal. If you’re near a university, then you can include a student discount, or if you’re near a popular wedding venue, you can emphasize your bridal gown steaming, pressing and storing services. Whichever subset you choose to target, make sure that your site is attractive to them. Your website is often the first impression that potential customers will have of your business, so make sure it aligns with the type of customer you’re seeking, and that these individuals would be able to recognize and identify that you’re an expert at meeting their specific needs.
Beyond this, it’s also important that your site conveys as much of the practical information that customers will need to know as possible. Make sure you include the following:
- Business Hours
- Full list of services offered
- Contact info: Address, phone number, and email address
Prioritize collecting customer contact info
Next, you should add forms to collect contact information, whether to ask a question, join an email or SMS (text message) list, create an account, or request a quote for pick up and delivery service. Capturing lead information will be invaluable for keeping them engaged, moving them further down the funnel, and eventually motivating them to convert into a customer. They might forget their search for a new dry cleaner, or your website, but if you can get their contact information, you can keep the conversation going, so to speak, by sending them email and/or SMS communications.
If you do delivery and pickup, then allow them to enter in all their info and request their first pickup (maybe even with an incentive) directly through a form submission on your site. If they’ll be dropping off themselves, encourage them to create an account beforehand so they can save some time, and provide a discount. This way, if they don’t come in within a week or two, you can send them a special offer and hopefully remind them to take action. Collecting customer or lead info should be the goal, because it allows you to keep the conversation going, so you can keep working them until the time is right.
Try including a quick survey about what types of services they’re interested in, why they’re looking for a new dry cleaner (and what their old one might have done wrong to lose their business). This will allow you to segment them later on, so you can send the most relevant types of offers or emails to those who will be happy to receive them.
Remember: For your customers, convenience is key
Customers will be capricious, and many of them view dropping off or picking up dry cleaning to be just another errand on their to-do lists. Most likely, they’ll be making in-store visits based on what works best for their schedule. As a result, the dry cleaners who make this process as easy, frictionless and even intuitive as possible will remain the most competitive.
Be transparent and facilitation communication, while remembering that your website is your hub. Implement procedures that can help make their lives easier, such as automated SMS messages that will notify them if their items are ready sooner than originally expected (and advertise as real-time updates on your site!), or occasional offers to drop it off, for free (when their address is on a route already going out, for example). However, these types of benefits only work when you are diligent about collecting and keeping your customer contact info as updated as possible.
Enhance their experience, in between visits
Exchanges at dry cleaners are fast, so it’s hard to forge connections with customers face-to-face. Especially with the more customers opting for delivery or pick up and drop off options, there’s even less facetime. It’s important to connect with them when it’s more convenient and they’re not just rushing to the next errand. This means being where they are, and in 2016, that’s online, in their inbox, on social pages and via text.
Since your interactions with customers are limited, compensate for this deficit by including employee bio’s on your site, and include a mix of background, experience and expertise as well as hobbies and other topics that will encourage chitchat during transactions. This will humanize your business, and increase loyalty. You can also include the name of your delivery people and/or those who will be working the counter when they come to collect their dry cleaning.
Send a text message or email after you check all items and see if they have any tears, holes, hemlines coming undone, missing buttons or zippers, etc. Attention to detail can make a really big difference in a decision to return and keep coming back. Ask if they’d like you to fix these small things, and they’ll appreciate you looking out for them. All too often, customers won’t realize they’ve lost a button in transit and will only be reminded when they go to put on their freshly-laundered shirt in the morning. A small thing like a missing button, can cost them valuable time and ruin their morning. Small gestures like this make their lives much easier, and ultimately make the difference.
Getting your business discovered, on your site and beyond
Position yourself as an expert in your industry, and share your knowledge with others in a company blog on your site. Focus on practical topics that will provide value to your customers, and more specifically the target segments that you’ve identified previously. You can easily turn these into newsletters that will help keep customers engaged. It will help with SEO, or surfacing your business on search engines. Make sure you have enough time to commit to this endeavor, because it’s important to maintain a consistent cadence with blogging, whether once a week or once a month. If things are too hectic, perhaps create a “Top Ten Tips” for a popular topic such as “treating stains”, or going through the best approach for different types of issues. You can update that as you see fit, but it will still provide good SEO for your business, without requiring as much maintenance.
Driving them from printed flyers to your website
If you’re using print mailers, doorhangs or flyers in nearby neighborhoods and office buildings, be sure to bridge the gap and drive them to your site for more info by using QR codes, or creating shortlinks to your website. This will help them easily get more info about your business, such as hours, services and pricing, and keep them engaged, and increase the likelihood they’ll submit their contact info so you can continue to nurture them until they’re ready to make a transaction.
Finally, the importance of online reviews on popular sites like Yelp, Facebook and Google cannot be emphasized enough. 72% of consumers say that positive online reviews make them trust a business more, and in this industry trust is the most valuable advantage your business can get. Make sure to provide links or buttons on your site to your company’s profiles on these sites, so that new customers can see what current customers think of your work and services. Make it as easy as possible for them to do this research, and show off all your rave reviews! Include links in your email signature, on receipts, and put stickers on your windows or door. This will remind happy customers to leave you a positive review!
If you have a few especially descriptive and laudatory reviews, ask the poster if you can use them on your site, and include them as testimonials to provide proof of your commitment to quality. This will also entice others to leave a review, in hopes of being featured on your site. Remember, it’s important that these reviews are current, plentiful and positive. If you receive any negative reviews, respond to them and try to reach a compromise.
Signpost’s Mia automatically drives more five-star reviews for your business on the sites that matter most. She’ll also “intercept” negative reviews by getting in front of detractors, and bringing the situation to your attention, so you can find a resolution before they post a costly negative review that will continue to influence and dissuade potential customers from doing business with you. She’ll also work on getting you more new customers and improve the loyalty of existing ones.