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Me, Me, Me (Clients’ Self-Esteem) (Part 1)

Emotional bond: Your customer desires to look good

SAN FRANCISCO — Self-esteem, confidence, achievement, and respect are powerful motivators in driving clientele to hire you to polish their image.

Have you ever seen a drycleaning ad or website that did not profess to provide “quality” as a primary marketing point? In preparation for writing this article, I actually tried hard to find one that didn’t site quality as their key attribute. Twenty-three (that’s 23!) attempts proved futile.

No matter if the customer ratings were 1 or 5 on a 5-best scale, all claimed quality. How is a prospective customer to find the real difference that is meaningful to them?

If every company claims the exact same customer benefit(s), does any single cleaner stand out above the crowd or have a true edge over the others?

When everyone asserts exactly the same thing, is it a surprise that consumers resort to the rating sites that most cleaners love to hate?

Is the provider more credible than the users of the product who are doing the rating? Not likely, hence the popularity of the evaluation websites, where the unhappy experiences are five times more likely to be reported.

This math works exponentially against the cleaning professional when combined with the statistic that “It takes 12 positive service incidents to make up for one negative incident.” (Source: South Carolina-based business consultancy Lee Resource Inc.’s Bad Ratings Are Costly.)

So how do you market your business to stand out from the crowd? How do you keep your valued customers returning regularly, and how do you woo your dream “high-volume, high-loyalty” prospects to trust you enough to give your service a try?

This has been a dilemma for decades, and the most common approach to marketing in our industry is to use discounts.

On the “pro” side, discounts are:

  • Easy to promote;

  • Easy to track;

The “con” list is more threatening:

  • Giving the impression of “fake” pricing. Reduced pricing gives the consumer the idea that your “regular prices” are higher than they should be and that you are systematically overpriced.

  • Discounting also attracts price shoppers, a uniquely fickle audience that will hop to whomever has the lowest price.


So what’s a professional cleaner to do?

Look at your whole value package from the perspective of your best customers. Why do they keep returning to enjoy the customer experience you provide? Understanding what value means to them is key to retaining them and expanding your base to include more consumers like them.

This profiling step is critical to understanding customer motivation and value and to cultivating customers who are willing and able to pay what your service is worth.

Value is the sum of the entire experience and pricing is only one component of many that comprise value to consumers.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion.

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].