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Fashionistas Mean Business (Part 1)

Diana Vollmer |

Use variety of ways to reach fashion-conscious customers in your area

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.

UNIVERSAL APPLICATION 

Whatever the geographical market or population size of your city, the highest-volume drycleaning clients are the local “fashionistas.” In a large city, that might mean they wear Chanel, Zegna and Karl Lagerfeld. In most markets, they wear much more moderately priced ready-to-wear that usually includes a mid-range Ralph Lauren line, and Ellen Tracy to Jones New York. In a small town, it might mean St. John’s Bay, depending on the accessibility of fashion outlets.

Any of these markets could include cutting-edge, eclectic thrift-store finds worn with flair. But either way, they are the fashion-conscious individuals in the community.

If you already serve this group, you understand their motivations and requirements and their value to your business, so you probably want to attract more of them. If you don’t currently enjoy the patronage of these fashion leaders, then you might want to consider ways to appeal to them.

LABEL TRACKING 

A basic starting point to reaching these influencers is to first track the clothing labels on their orders to see which designers your best customers like to wear. In most cases, the most popular labels will not be couture or even designer, and that is fine. The point is to identify the favorites of your best customers.

Most point-of-sale computer systems provide a way to track this information, and it is surprising how few cleaners use this internal resource. It is powerful marketing, communications and sales information that can be used to reach these select few in a true one-to-one marketing effort.

The first step of this process is to isolate the top 20% of your customers by sales volume. To fully appreciate this group, also calculate what percentage of your total business they provide. This analysis should help you put the challenges of their requirements into the proper perspective.

Seeing them in the profit light is important because, although most customers are nice and friendly, quite often these high-volume customers have special requirements that make the customer service representatives reluctant to wait on them. They are clear in their specific wishes and desires. One memorable experience was to witness the counter staffers draw straws to see who (aka the “loser”) had to wait on a specific “Top 5” customer.

You might find it beneficial to examine your security camera archives to review some of these interactions and determine if they are handled to the highest standards. If you can achieve the elevated standards required to please these discriminating customers, they will happily pay you exceedingly well to do so, and they will tell their friends about your superior service.

RETAILER IDENTIFICATION 

Once you have a hierarchy of labels by volume, you can search the retailers that sell these designer fashions to your customers.

This step is easier if you are in a large urban area, because your customers are likely shopping close to home for the majority of their wardrobes. It is more challenging in a market that is not close to a wide variety of clothing stores, but it is easy to ask customers where they shop when admiring the clothing they bring in for your care. They will react more favorably to admiration than to a discussion about the weather. They appreciate that you recognize their taste, the value of their clothing, the fine fabrics, and the artistic design.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion!

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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