CHARLEROI, Pa. — Drycleaning business owner Dan LaCarte and his four brothers built a going route service within their operation, and its intake is a big-block chunk of revenue. It’s time to talk all things routes. Let’s get your motor revved and runnin’ with a straight-up, both hands on the wheel, supercharged Q&A with the president of Model Cleaners.
Let’s find out how they ramped it up, and plan to keep it cruising, because adding new route clients is the ignition to cranking up a thriving route business. Now, revvv up for the conclusion of our conversation!
Q: Can you share a memorable story of how your customers reacted to your route services?
LaCarte: “With the harsh winter weather we tend to experience in Pittsburgh, we tend to have a lot of adventures on the roads in helping take care of our route customers,” he says.
“I remember a time when a route customer absolutely needed their garments to go on a trip the next morning, and our area declared a local state of emergency due to the icy conditions. Of course, we kept the customer needs No. 1, so I remember getting into our Model truck and turning what would have been a 35-minute trip into a three-hour adventure to ensure that this customer’s garments were back to them so they could use them for their upcoming trip. It was a fun trip; I got pulled over by the police and was issued an $85 fine but managed to arrive at my destination.
“That one trip we made for that customer proved priceless, as that customer happened to be an owner of a large business and we were able to sign up his business onto our uniform rental services. That customer now spends over $1,800 a week with our uniform rental company. He remembered what we did for him that time and was appreciative of how our company goes above and beyond for its customers. It was worth the $85 fine.”
Q: Can you share a tip for anyone who is thinking of adding routes?
LaCarte: “Stay focused with routes. Let route service be something you lead with on your website, your trucks and in your stores. If you do not focus on routes and make it a half-half thing, you will not get the most from it.”
Q: How do apps and emails play a part today in route business?
LaCarte: “Apps certainly play a huge role for our customers. It’s more convenient for them to stay engaged with our brand, request pickups, see their invoices, and use coupons at their convenience. Having an app, I believe, is critical in customer retention and keeping them as route customers.
“Emailing is a huge way to keep your route customers engaged in remembering their days of service. Most customers always forget their days of service for some reason, so emailing, and now texting, helps to remind them. Including a ‘days of service’ magnet reminder in the ‘New Customer’ welcome kit can be a good idea, too.”
Q: As an owner, is it hard to manage your route business on top of your other responsibilities?
LaCarte: “It is a part of the process. To me, route service is essential for a dry cleaner to survive and to stay relevant, so managing the routes is a fun thing for my team and I to stay focused on.
“Route service is a different business than the stores. You must ensure your drivers are practicing strong driving safety habits. You must always make sure your team of drivers are doing their part to take care of route customers on a daily basis in the most professional way possible.”
Keep adding new route clients, that’s the message! Let’s call it additives to your operation’s engine. You’ve idled long enough now at this starting line. Revvv it up and punch it on outta here!
Miss earlier parts of this article? You can read them here: Part 1 — Part 2