CHICAGO — Dry cleaners who run their business without a solid plan for gathering feedback from their customers are missing out on one of the greatest tools they have available to them. This feedback not only tells a consumer-facing business how they are connecting with their customers, but offers insight into their wants and needs for the future.
In Part 1 of this series, we examined the general benefits of gathering feedback, and today, we’ll explore constructive ways to put feedback — both positive and negative — to work for your business.
The Bitter with the Sweet
Part of having the proper mindset is to understand that any feedback — positive or negative — can lead to both short- and long-term improvements. You just have to be willing to listen.
“No one wants to say, ‘Just give me all the bad stuff you think we’re doing,’ but the most valuable feedback is when someone says what we’re not doing up to their standards,” says Joe Baughman, who co-owns Dutch Girl Cleaners in Walnut Creek, California with his wife, Michelle Windsor-Baughman. “It might be that person’s opinion about something that we’re still doing correctly, but they might just not like it. They might not like the way we fold something, or they might not like the clips we use. But getting feedback from someone might allow us to change or innovate.”
“If you’re not doing anything with feedback — if you’re not making the corrections or you’re not telling the staff how great they did — then it has no value,” Windsor-Baughman says. “I think every complaint is an opportunity to exceed the expectation of that client. I can be offended all day long, but being offended doesn’t bring money in the door. It doesn’t keep my machines running or keep my staff operating and paid.”
“Every time we serve a customer, they get an email and/or a text asking how our service was,” says Jason Loeb, owner of Sudsies Dry Cleaners in Miami. “If they liked it, we ask them to post a review. If they’re unhappy with it, it goes to my manager, and then he gets a response. We ask what went wrong. We call it ‘service recovery,’ and service recovery is not a bad thing. I’d rather them tell us than to tell somebody else. You have the chance to fix it and create the experience. I’m in the experiential business. I want to create an experience for my guests.”
If you’re asking honest questions, you need to be ready for honest answers if you want to grow, Windsor-Baughman says.
“You have to be able to swallow the humility pill,” she says. “Ask yourself what you want to be. Do you want to be good? Do you want to be excellent at what you do? Or do you want to be legendary? We want to be legendary. We want to be talked about through our community, and we want to be referred. That’s being a legend.”
Knowing how to weigh people’s opinions, however, is also vital, says Jonathan Bence, owner of Troy Cleaners in Port Huron, Michigan. He believes that it’s important to keep in mind the 80/20 rule — 80% of your business typically comes from 20% of your customers — when receiving and soliciting feedback. It’s also possible to go deeper than that.
“About 19.5% gives us 80%, and I believe our top 5% give us about 40% of our sales,” he says.
“So, every decision we make is mindful of what the top 20% think. If they start telling us things, we pay close attention, because they’re the ones who are driving our business. My retail team leader or manager will call the top 5% twice a year just to ask how things are going and if there’s anything we can improve on. I’ll personally call the top 1% just to tell them we appreciate their business and ask for any suggestions.”
Come back Thursday for Part 3, where we’ll examine ways to gather feedback from your clients. For Part 1 of this series, click HERE.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].