The dry cleaning business is both easy and difficult. If your business has been open for many years, you likely have a solid base of regular customers. They come in once a week to drop off their suits, and occasionally they bring items from other family members, too. Sometimes you get customers who come in every once in a while to get their clothing cleaned for special events. Once your customers trust you to do a good job and provide a quick turnaround, they’ll keep coming back as long as they live in the area.
What can be difficult as a dry cleaning business owner is attracting new customers. Simply attracting people who live very close by and visit your shop out of convenience isn’t enough. There can be many different dry cleaners in one small area in dense cities, even in a single neighborhood. People will naturally visit the one closest to them.
In small towns, it’s a bit different. If yours is the only dry cleaner in town, that’s perfect. If there’s another shop in another part of town, that’s not too bad — again, people who live close to yours will still come. Either way, you can always attract more business.
Defining Your Customer Personas
When you start thinking about creating a dry cleaning marketing plan, you must first clarify who you’re trying to market to, who you’re trying to appeal to, who you’re trying to reach.
Even before you do that, think about who already visits your shop. What kind of items do they bring you to clean? How frequently do they visit? How much money do they spend each visit? What kind of special requests do they make?
Spend some time gathering all the information you can about how current customers use your shop. This should include real, hard numbers if you have them available. Of course, it would take far too much time to record all this information about every single customer, so try to identify a few customer personas and focus on those.
How many types of customers do you have? For example, the twice-a-week, the once-a-week, the twice-a-year… figure out what differentiates your customers in regards to how they use your business.
For each different persona, record as much accurate information as you can. This should include at least frequency of visit, dollar spend per visit, dollar spend per year, number of items per visit, time of visit, and any information on special requests.
You’ll also want to include observational information for each persona. What does it seem like each persona does for a living? Are they family people? You should know your customers well. Think about who they are and write that down along with the hard-fact numbers about their visits.
Once you’ve figured out who your customers are, it’s time to fill in the gaps. What kinds of people aren’t visiting your shop, who do you think could use your services? Also, are any of your services underutilized? Basically, you want to figure out what and where your marketing opportunities are.
Creating Your Marketing Plan
You have a solid information profile on your current customer base at this point in your planning, and you know where your opportunities are. Now it’s time to plan your marketing strategy.
Dry cleaning is a hyper-local business. In the restaurant business, customers might travel many miles to visit a popular restaurant. That’s rare in dry cleaning unless one of your clients loves your services so much that they recommend your business to a friend living on the other side of town. The point is that you have to focus your strategy very locally.
Let’s say you live in a college town, but you noticed that not many college students visit your business. There’s an easy solution: find out if that school has a newspaper, and take out advertising space there. When new students come to town, they’re usually given a packet of materials (brochures, maps, etc.) to help orient them. Connect with the college and see if you can put an advertisement somewhere in those materials, perhaps on a map of the area, or a list of local businesses the college recommends.
Another excellent way to drive business to your dry cleaning shop is through grocery store advertising. Everyone goes to the grocery store, whether it’s three times a week or once a month. If you have advertisements on Cartvertising or SmartSource carts, people are guaranteed to see them. Plus, shopping cart advertising rates are relatively affordable. Create, or pay an advertising partner to create an ad for your business showing location, rates, popular services, and anything else you think is necessary to drive customers to your business.
Placing Your Advertisement
When you create your advertisement, whether it’s bound for a college campus or a supermarket advertisement, you must do so strategically. This is when you think about the customer personas you’ve made.
You’ll want to advertise your most popular services and appeal to other people like your best customers. You might want to try and draw in customer types who don’t come to your business. Advertise your generous hours, your affordable rates, whatever it is that makes your business the right choice for consumers.
The content of your advertisement and where it’s placed are the two factors that make it effective. Arguably, where it’s placed is more critical. That’s why you’ll want to get in grocery stores because people are guaranteed to see your advertisements.
Creating an effective dry cleaning marketing plan isn’t that difficult. All it requires is a basic understanding of your customers and a little bit of local advertising. With these tips, you should have new customers knocking at your door not long after running your first advertisements. People will always need dry cleaning!