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Fashionistas Mean Business (Conclusion)

Diana Vollmer |

Use variety of ways to reach fashion-conscious customers

SAN FRANCISCO — Fashionistas pay attention to the latest from the runway shows, and it is necessary for dry cleaners to pay attention as well. It’s about how you take care of those designer fashions and keep their owners happy with the care you provide for their prized clothing.

Who do you see sitting in runway audiences from New York to Paris and from Colorado to Missouri? Is it the most frequent drycleaning clientele or is it the occasional “funeral and wedding” customer? You’ll see the drycleaning regulars who are the most fashion-focused, who spend freely on their wardrobes, and who want those beloved garments professionally maintained with maximum tender loving care.

JOINT VENTURES

Your best joint-venture partner prospects to reach this group may well be the local specialty stores and boutiques. By partnering with them on projects and events, you receive the benefit of their implied third-party endorsement, which is much stronger than any marketing that touts your store’s strengths.

They also have the resources to stage events that will attract the fashion-conscious clientele in your market. Some of these resources include fashion videos; garments and models for fashion shows; samples for trunk shows; attractive venues for events; access to wholesale gifts and prizes; professional display personnel; fashion directors; and personal shoppers for personalized previews.

You have resources that are valuable to them, the most important of which is your controlled access to your customers who love and buy fashionable clothing. You also have the skills to save the sale when a garment has been soiled, damaged or needs alteration.

There are infinite ways for you and these preferred retailers to cater to mutually desirable customers. Some successful approaches have included co-sponsoring and co-producing:

  • Private designer viewings by invitation only.
  • Fashion shows in local venues for various charity benefits.
  • Trunk shows for custom clothing.
  • A day of entertainment and fashion at a well-known store hosted by the personal shopping staff.
  • Clothing selection and packing techniques for the ideal vacation.
  • Business fashion shows for the local businesswomen’s conference.
  • A Gatsby day at the local club.
  • A “Dress for Casual Success” coaching session.
  • An “Update Your Favorite Outfit With Accessories” event.
  • Fashion previews and training for your staff (and you can educate their staff on clothing care).

Another joint-venture partner might be the local fashion institute that can co-sponsor a design contest and student fashion show.

With the popularity of the television show Project Runway, you might sponsor a local fashion illustration contest, display the entrants in your stores and on your website, and have your customers (and prospects) vote on the winners.

The list of leading fashion lifestyle partners is endless when you add bags, shoes, luggage, cars, electronics (think of the range of fashion covers for phones), home decor, and more. All of these providers are trying to reach the same customers you are, so leverage each other to produce events that will dazzle your customers and prospects.

Allowing your loyal customers to interact with your prospect customers at an event is a powerful marketing tool and an excellent opportunity for spontaneous personal testimonials in an informal setting.

The list of possibilities for these opportunities is only limited by your imagination, so let it run wild.

GIFTS WITH PURCHASE

A simple way to begin your relationship with retailers is the proven approach of offering a complimentary first cleaning for a newly purchased garment.

Customizing and presenting it as “a gift from John’s Custom Clothing and Classic Cleaners” is a welcome sight from the customer’s perspective and provides a mutual endorsement that works for both dry cleaner and merchant.

You can begin to ingratiate yourself with other fashion lifestyle partners in similar ways. For example, provide the owner of the hottest restaurant with your business cards to give to customers who suffer spills during drinks or dinner. Even if you charge the restaurant for the cleaning work, it still provides an instant solution for a messy situation with the restaurant patron.

USE YOUR BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE

You already know a tremendous amount about the lifestyles of your fashion leader clients, and much of what you don’t know can be discovered or inferred. Use your close relationship with these fashionistas to create exciting opportunities for unique memorable experiences that will impress and entertain them. By co-sponsoring these events with like-minded partners, the cost is minimized and the impact is multiplied exponentially.

About the author

Diana Vollmer

Methods for Management (MFM) Inc.

Managing Director

Diana Vollmer is managing director of Methods for Management (MFM) Inc., a consultancy specializing in drycleaning businesses. You may contact her at dvollmer@mfmi.com, 415-577-6544.

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