SAN FRANCISCO — Are you doing the self-promotion needed to educate and convert your prospects and current customers to become users of all your services?
Do your prospects and current customers know how many of their needs you can meet?
Do they know the facts about the environmental advantages of your family laundry service versus the huge detrimental environmental impact of the home washer and dryer?
Do they know how many stores, routes and drop locations you have? And are they receiving new relevant lifestyle information in a concise manner?
When asked about self-promotion efforts, a common response from drycleaning owners is a variation of, “We’ve been around forever, so everybody knows us.”
Even if that was factual, which it is not, the consumer probably thinks of you as a “dry cleaner” period — conjuring up the image of suits and formal clothing that they seldom wear.
They need a broader updated understanding of your offerings. There are plenty of drycleaning industry examples.
Today’s customers don’t fall from the sky. They are the result of well planned, well executed and well managed sales and marketing plans, with the various parts being well coordinated and integrated for maximum effectiveness.
Accomplishing great things with which to promote and share, takes discipline and underlying structure.
Jacksonville, Fla.-based Oceanside Cleaners agreed to share the bedrock vision upon which they built their business and base their management decisions when creating new initiatives, as follows:
To extend the life of fabrics and respect our environment while providing an exceptional culture for customers and employees.
To accomplish our mission, we live by the CARE philosophy. When Oceanside CAREs, it makes us stronger, not only as a team, but as a business. CARE means:
• Listen to understand;
• Anticipate customers needs;
• Consider the customer in every decision and action;
• Create positive experiences while providing lasting outcomes.
Attention to Details
• Delight customers with the unexpected;
• Show care of the little things;
• Demonstrate thoroughness and accuracy.
Respect Our Community
• Be kind;
• Speak and act with integrity;
• Express care and empathy for our team, customers, community and environment.
Empower One Another
• Crave growth;
• Pursue lifelong learning;
• Have courage to do what is right;
• Inspire and mentor others.
Each initiative follows with a specific and documented plan for accomplishment.
The following summary example, focuses on attracting, training and retaining team talent that can take the Oceanside message to their audience and deliver on their promises. This summary is courtesy of Mike Harris, Kerri Todd, and Francis Flair:
• To create an initiative program to mentor qualified employees (college students preferred), develop lifelong skills in leadership, management, and to become role models of society.
• The program is expected to help acquire and retain quality employees with long term promise in the company.
• Kerri to mentor young girls in the program.
• Attend company-sponsored events to help in the development process.
• Sell the ideology of the program’s potential for employees.
• Document progress in the program from the beginning to the end.
• Include a tuition reimbursement.
• A three-year structured program.
• Read and discuss assigned books; present at the daily and monthly meetings.
• Reach out to past students of the program to provide feedback and the impact in their current field or industry (video clip preferred).
• There is an interview process approved by all managers.
• Gain strong connections through recommendations by the CEO.
Another successful branding story is Bowen Cleaners in Greenville, N.C. It shows business acumen to the community by acquiring the competitor’s locations, thereby expanding the Bowen brand impact. Owner Rich Volk says, “Over the years, the competitor had approached me about a potential acquisition, but it wasn’t until this year that the conversation became serious.”
Rich began strategizing how to leverage the competitor’s business within the current scope of work, determining that acquiring two of the three locations and eliminating the plant was the most efficient effective approach. The third storefront location had an extended lease that was not aligned with the Bowen vision due to proximity to the current plant and store.
The seller will operate that location and Bowen will do the work for a percentage of sales until the lease expires and the store is closed. All details were included in the purchase agreement for mutual understanding of terms.
Now, there are six Bowen physical locations in the market. The volume, both dollars and pieces, has significantly increased with no additional plant and equipment investment.
Another goal of the acquisition was to eliminate the opportunity for a new competitor to come into the Bowen market and to purchase an established brand that already had brand recognition.
As you refine your self-promotional plans, rationally think through all the opportunities to publicize your greatness throughout your operations and then be creative and proactive about broadcasting your unique advantages.
Special thanks from the author to the generous contributors to this column!
To read Part 1, go HERE.