CHICAGO — Well, it’s eight o’clock in Boise, Idaho
I’ll find my limo driver
Mister, take us to the show
I’ve done made some plans for later on tonight.
I’ll find a little queen
And I know I can treat her right
What’s your name, little girl?
What’s your name?
You probably know well the lyrics from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s hit tune What’s Your Name.
And you can see that even the legendary Southern rock band had convenience issues. They were pressed for time. We all are.
At 8 o’clock at night in Boise, and many other places, your customers will need dry cleaning. That’s a fact!
More and more drycleaning services are becoming available through many options. And that’s the name of this new game — omni channels.
Give your customers as many convenient ways as possible to make their life easier and more joyful. It happens with more channels and more partnerships to get the job done easier and faster for them.
Enter Gary McCracken, who, with wife Keh, owns Clothesline Cleaners in — where else? — Boise.
“Drop bins at the stores allow customers to drop off their cleaning after hours,” he says. “But the Metalprogetti 24/7 Garment Valet at our Meridian (Idaho) boutique location is the newest big attraction. The customers that use it love it! They even use it during business hours, opting for automation over personal service.”
He is describing the operation’s drive-up lane and kiosk system that enables customers to drop off and pick up their hanging orders anytime.
Convenience has always been and will continue to be the driving factor that brings customers into any location, McCracken says. “The more convenient we can make our service, the more likely we are to attract new business.”
But Clothesline Cleaners still has “dedicated over-the-counter traffic, as well as a very steady route business,” he adds. For over 30 years, it has been committed to providing clients with the highest quality care and finishing of garments.
Dan Miller owns Mulberrys Garment Care, based in Minneapolis, Minn., with recent expansion into the San Francisco area.
Speaking more about the revenue “river channels” of today, he weighs in: “The biggest challenge is complexity. Managing one store with set hours, as it’s been for decades in the drycleaning business, is considerably easier than managing multiple stores, lockers, kiosks, and delivery drivers.
“However, that makes the business that much more exciting and innovative.”
To Miller, it’s just the continuation of the trend of customers wanting services performed on their schedule and not the other way around.
“The businesses that recognize this will have a meaningful advantage,” he says.
When drycleaning operators marry brainstorming with partnerships that fit well, profits can be had.
LET’S PARTNER, PARD
Marketing channels open up and flow through partnerships.
Miller thinks partnership opportunities have always been there. It's just a question of finding the right ones, whether it’s a grocery store or a suit maker.
“We partner with Custom Tailors, which has been great,” he says. “They get a dry cleaner that understands the needs of their clientele and we get a great referral source for future drycleaning customers.”
Mike Bleier, owner of Greener Cleaner, partners with condos in his city of Chicago. “For us, it makes perfect sense to work directly with properties to offer our service to an entire building instead of just one customer. In exchange, we offer generous discounts to all the residents.”
He knows a lot of dry cleaners bristle at discounting, but it was really a simple math equation for him.
“For example, I was going to one building for four years for one loyal customer. We approached him and asked if he would be our advocate on his condo board to bring our service to his entire property.
“Since he loved us and happened to be on the condo board, it was a slam dunk. He now gets 25% off of his order every day, but we now have 35 customers in his building instead of just one.”
Sales volume from that building “increased by something like 1700%, even after everyone in the building gets discounted,” Bleier says. “Multiply that by 20, 30, 50, or 100 buildings, and you have yourself a very nice business.”
Kyle E. Nesbit, vice president of business development at Texas’ MW Cleaners, says his company is “so blessed to be part of Tailored Brands, The Men’s Wearhouse, and Jos. A. Bank. The opportunity to cross-promote with these national companies is unrivaled in the retail drycleaning industry.”
The No. 1 reason to partner with a local or national retailer, he notes, is to increase the rate of customer acquisition.
“My father, Mike Nesbit, who will become the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI) president at the Clean Show in Las Vegas this June, says that new customer acquisition, hopefully leading to increased revenue, seems to be priority No. 1 for almost every dry cleaner he speaks with.”
The younger Nesbit suggests that retail dry cleaners try to partner with high-end men’s and women’s retailers in their area.
“The partnership,” he suggests, “could be as easy as cleaning stock items at no charge and, in return, the retailer would give out an offer or promotion for your dry cleaner at the end of each transaction.”
McCracken’s business does quite a bit of partnering: “Yes, we have more strategic partnerships than ever before,” including “custom clothiers, retailers, bed ’n’ breakfasts, Ballet Idaho, Opera Idaho and other performance companies, Boise State University, local high school and junior high schools, Boise Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army.”
He says the referrals and “good press” these relationships generate are “priceless.”
IT’S EIGHT O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE
Entrepreneurial spirit and just good ol’ hard work factor into all of this, too, especially when dry cleaners are finding ever more convenient ways to help their clients save time.
Most of the opportunities Bleier jumped on are the result of his own efforts, he says: “If you want more business, the best thing you can do is brainstorm some good ideas, and then roll up your sleeves and go get it!
“Go meet your neighbors and find out how you can help them out.”
Given the scale of integrations that big companies like Starbucks, Chipotle and Disney are creating, Nesbit believes the omni channel endeavor may seem out of reach for smaller, private companies.
“But personally, I don’t think we’re that far away from a world where omni channel is accessible to brands of all sizes.”
To sum up, McCracken repeats the recorded message on his company’s phone line: “If it’s after business hours, don’t worry because you can drop off or pick up your dry cleaning using our 24-hour service bay!”
Hey, it’s “eight o’clock in Boise, Idaho,” or Chicago, Minneapolis, Houston, many other places, and your customers have to get to their show.
Make sure all your channels are open and available (and well publicized) to get them there.
Missed Part 1 of this story? You can read it HERE.
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If you’re looking to add more omni services to your operation, pull right up to our “service lane” (no waiting, always open). Here’s a quick recap of ideas to consider:
- App-Based Services
- Assembly Systems
- Automated Garment Delivery Systems
- Drop Boxes
- Material-Handling Systems
- Website Hosting and Development Services
Several of these categories can be found in the American Drycleaner Buyer’s Guide. In the Night Lane spirit, they’re always available online here.
If you’ve found other types of services or partnerships successful in your drycleaning operation, and you’d like to share them, e-mail Tim Burke, American Drycleaner editor.
Here’s hoping our service station fills your tank with plenty of ideas. Come again!