CHICAGO — Emails, emails, emails,” says Sassan Rahimzadeh, president of Chula Vista, Calif.-based ARYA Cleaners, in describing one of the effective ways he reaches and connects with his customers.
“But of course the content of those emails is critical,” he adds. “We find that changing the promotion on every mailing is critical. Sending out the same offer over and over gets very stale and loses the response rate.”
There are many ways to market your garment care operation. Just because you’ve perhaps only tried one way — for instance sending out flyers — doesn’t mean you can’t try other methods, such as social media, or those emails, emails, emails!
Remember, if at first you don’t succeed…. try, try again. It’s true in life and certainly true in marketing your garment care business. The only thing stopping you is you.
There are lots of channels you can explore to try to reach your clients in the most effective way — so you can be where they are. Two drycleaning owners are going to share their experiences with you.
“We find email marketing to be a highly effective way to customize our target market for specific offers that are not always publicized to the masses,” says Rahimzadeh.
“That fact alone allows us to get a better success rate in getting email addresses from our customers. Customers feel a sense of exclusivity that not only makes them feel better, but it also gets them values that they would not get otherwise.”
His business was founded in 1987 after his parents had ended a partnership with another dry cleaner and family friend, and decided to venture on their own. He says that by the mid-90s they were operating 13 stores throughout San Diego County.
“And lessons were learned quickly that bigger is not necessarily always better. After reducing our stores back down to eight by 2006,” notes Rahimzadeh, “we had achieved higher profitability even at reduced overall sales. By 2009, the recession forced our hand in many other ways to reduce our stores even more.”
Today, he relates, they have a total of four stores that consist of the main plant, a traditional drop store, and two 24/7 automated locations, and yet, he adds, they still have reached the highest and most sustainable profit levels in their company’s history.
About marketing channels he says this: “We participate in all and every type of marketing effort our shopping centers provide to us at a reduced cost. These include direct mailers, door knockers, and special offers on the shopping centers’ website. By adding links to our own website through their website, we add SEO optimization, however small that may be.”
Rahimzadeh says, “Though I know we need to do more of our own relevant Facebook posts, currently, we use our GreenEarth marketing system to take care of our Facebook and social media posts.
“We also have historically also done as many community-based promotions as possible. We support our local YMCA, our local community college fundraisers, we’re business members of our city’s charitable foundation, and many more,” he continues.
By far the most effective tool that dry cleaners have at their disposal, he relates, is the many different POS, or Point Of Sale, systems that are out there. And most owners tend to barely scratch the surface of these systems’ capabilities.
“We are in fact in the midst of transitioning to a new system,” Rahimzadeh says, “and the absolute main reason for the switch is its marketing and communication systems that our new system will bring to us. We hope that it will make us more effective in sending out our message.”
Rahimzadeh explains that, “We send ‘welcome’ messages to new customers the evening of when they first come in. We send ‘we miss you’ emails to customers who haven’t come back in 60 days. We send ‘ready order’ emails every day to let customers know their items are ready.”
He also notes they send monthly promotional emails to everyone. “We send quarterly emails to specific customers given their usage patterns, so a lot of them get alterations emails.”
Do your customers like the email method you use to communicate with them?
“Don’t have specific data on that, but it seems like most do,” Rahimzadeh says. “The ones that don’t, simply opt-out of receiving them. We have over 9,000 active email addresses, so I assume that most like the system.”
About deciding on the type of marketing communication channel he uses, he indicates that, “I don’t think there are any bad marketing channels out there. Costs are the only thing that keep us from doing everything and anything. We have a 2.5% advertising and marketing budget.”
He wishes his sales would increase so he could spend more on marketing, he notes, but the biggest revelation he found in marketing he says is, “The fact that marketing actually works!”
“I used to think most marketing was smoke and mirrors and advertising companies were just sucking my money out,” he relates. “From website design and features, to actual SEO optimization to email campaigns, they all do just a bit to push you forward.
“Of course, your biggest risk is overpaying for a campaign or channel that just doesn’t work as effectively as you’d like, but give yourself enough of a cushion,” he advises, so you can try.
Rahimzadeh shares this tip for anyone thinking of expanding their marketing channels: “Start with marketing reps you know and can trust. If you don’t know of any, ask other colleagues for their recommendations.”
Good advice from an owner who has tried different things and is looking to do more. Now let’s hear from another garment care owner with experience trying various marketing channels.
Check back Thursday for the conclusion.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected] .