Ideas Do Percolate (Part 1)

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(Image licensed by Ingram Publishing)

Howard Scott |

Like aroma of fresh coffee brewing, let new notions fill the air

PEMBROKE, Mass. — New ideas in dry cleaning are far and few between.

I suppose that’s because the work is viewed as so repetitive. It’s the same, day after day, so management just focuses on workload.

Consider the Laundromat industry. In 1983, Phil Akin opened the first Duds ’N Suds in Iowa. The concept was to change a Laundromat from being a grungy chore to being a fun experience, where people would be able to do their laundry as they drank beer at the bar.

The concept grew to 121 outlets, and then the economy did the concept in. But we must admire Akin for creating a new idea in a related industry.

In honor of new ideas, I have some. They aren’t big concepts. They won’t revolutionize the drycleaning industry, as Akin did to the Laundromat world.

But they aren’t currently in practice, as far as I know. They are worth considering to improve your customer interaction. All are geared toward strengthening the customer bond.

IDEA #1: CUSTOMER OF THE MONTH

Set up a station in your counter area to honor a Customer of the Month. It could be on a wall or on a stand, but all customers entering your shop should see it.

Use a foam core board to make the presentation. Include a blown-up photo of the person. Have a headline. Then the body comment.

This will take a little creativity and artistic inspiration, but you can do it. Make it colorful. Use large letters. Keep the copy to a minimum of three lines. In these presentations, less is always more.

Who should be chosen? Suggestions include someone who...

  • Carries on well: A single mother who raised two children, the oldest of whom is now entering college.
  • Does good deeds: A person who helps out in the local food pantry one day a week.
  • Reaches a milestone: A person who turned 85 and still lives on his/her own.
  • Is charitable: A grandfather who pays for all his grandchildrens’ first semesters in college.
  • Is a local hero: The individual witnessed a robbery and took down the getaway car’s license plate number.
  • Has simply been steady: The person who celebrates 30 years of employment with the same company, or the couple who have been married for 40 years.
  • Has an interesting hobby.

How do you locate these people? Peruse the weekly newspaper. Talk to customers coming into your store. Check in with community leaders, clubs, and organizations that use volunteers.

After you scratch the surface, you will always be able to find people who are willing to have their good deeds and accomplishments made known.

After a while, customers will enter your store and read about the current Customer of the Month with interest. They will be appreciative that someone was cited for being an unsung hero.

These viewers might be inclined to send a letter of congratulations to the person. Such recognition will anoint your shop with a bit of humanity. And it will certainly boost customers’ good feeling for you. You have gained a customer for life.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion, highlighting ideas about a giveaway and a gathering

About the author

Howard Scott

Industry Writer and Drycleaning Consultant

Howard Scott is a former business owner, longtime industry writer and drycleaning consultant. He welcomes questions and comments and can be reached by writing Howard Scott, Dancing Hill, Pembroke, MA 02359; by calling 781-293-9027; or via e-mail at dancinghill@gmail.com.

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