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Word of Mouth Still Best for Getting New Customers

Survey: How to land, and keep, patrons

CHICAGO — How do you land new customers?

The latest quarterly American Drycleaner Your Views survey asked the trade audience to describe how they put their “best foot forward” to get new customers.

“Word of mouth” was the overwhelmingly clear choice, selected by 80% of respondents, as the most successful method — of many methods — to bring in new customers. The accompanying graph shows the full breakdown of methods indicated by survey respondents (they could select any or all from the choices).

Also, we asked pointedly: “How is it really going this year bringing in new customers?”

Here are some responses:

  • “A little improvement, promotion’s important.”
  • “Sales are down.”
  • “Six percent increase first three months.”
  • “We get new customers every week, but our piece count is down.”

When asked about offering wash-dry-fold services, only 51% of respondents said “Yes.” It was a bit surprising given the industry buzz today about diversifying.

The follow-up question then asked, “If ‘no,’ why not?” Answers include:

  • “Considering for future.”
  • “There’s a Laundromat next door.”
  • “Don’t have the room or equipment.”
  • “Labor cost.”
  • “In my area, people don’t request wash and fold.”
  • “Will very soon...”

Eighty-five percent of respondents say they can tell when new customers who have tried their service return. But how do they know for sure?

“We check our computer,” notes one respondent.

“Good question,” another respondent answers. “We could do better making sure.”

Sixty-five percent indicate their new customers return on a weekly basis, 24% say they return monthly, and the rest say they come back occasionally or are not tracked.

The survey also asked, “How do you land a brand-new customer?”

One respondent says, “New-mover mailing.”

A second indicates, “A referral from a friend.”

A third is quite telling: “Not sure where they come from, but most see us as they drive by and notice how busy we are.”

Finally, the survey asked, “What’s the reason your operation stands out in a customer’s mind, above all others?”

Some of the responses:

  • “Fast turnaround, clean, and quality.”
  • “We have been in business 70 years.”
  • “Reputation.”
  • “Yearly coat drive.”
  • “Customer service, quality.”
  • “We want to please.”
  • “I’m here every day cleaning clothes and removing spots. When a customer needs service, he or she gets it. Being a dry cleaner is that simple.”

That’s the word on landing, and keeping, customers.

The Your Views survey is a snapshot of the trade audience’s views. Qualified subscribers to American Drycleaner e-mails are invited to participate anonymously in the unscientific poll.

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