Problem is not a word I like to use. I like to say, “opportunity” or “challenge”, but I’m saying PROBLEM here so that there is no mistake in what I’m asking you.
What is your Biggest Customer Service Problem at the counter, on the phone, or from your delivery guy (and I mean you ladies too)?
According to Keith Lee, Out-Nordstrom Nordstrom (available at KeithLee.com and I highly recommend it at $2.97), he says, “The biggest problem business owners make by far, is they don’t train their team to deliver great customer service.”
Keith goes on to say, “They hire people, tell them to give good customer service and beat them up once in a while when they don’t give good service; but they never train their staff to deliver great customer service. To compound the problem, the people they hire get such terrible service everywhere they go that they think just “handling” a customer, and not being rude, is good customer service. They think indifferent customer service with an attitude of ‘I’ll wait on you but I really don’t care if you’re here or not’, is just fine.”
The first thing you gotta do is hire the right people. Here are some ideas for you to do that.
Hiring Idea #1: Hire Smiling Faces & Nice Team Members – If some guy walks in with a frown on his face… DON’T hire him. If he doesn’t have a smile on his face during the interview, he’s never going to smile—don’t hire him.
Hiring Idea #2: Hire ONLY People You Like – Hire someone you’d like to hang out with after work or on weekends. Hire someone that is a good neighbor. Hire someone that is a good listener. I know what you’re saying, “Hey Greg, that kind of person costs way more than minimum wage.” Wrong! You can find them. I’ll tell you how.
Hiring Idea #3: Hire With The Intention Of Training Them With Life & Business Skills They Can Use For Their Dream Job or Business – When I find the right person for the job (and you will if you believe you will and I also use the ‘Law of Attraction’ to help me out. I’d explain it, but it’s own article), I explain to them that they won’t have this job for life; it’s a transition job to get them to their dream job or business. I go on to explain that I’m going to teach you skills that you can use in business and life that will get you the best jobs and even skills you can use in running your own business. I go on to tell them to be and do their best because it’s training for the really good jobs they’ll get later in life. If someone is older or even retired, they should have all of these skills already.
By the way, hiring retired folks are the bomb. They don’t need the money (so you can get a $50/hr person for $10 an hour or so). They just want to get out of the house and do something that makes them feel productive. Most people when they retire get bored and want to do something. They show up on time; are diligent, and get things done right. I have 2 retired guys per van. One guy works Monday/Tuesday and the other works Thursday/Friday. Both of them know all the routes so that if one wants off, the other covers. You’ll NEVER have to go out on deliveries again.
Hiring Idea #4: Hire In Groups – I like to hire in at least groups of two. I like to watch how each of them reacts to the other. If I see one of them “rolling their eyes”, I don’t hire him or her. I don’t want him or her rolling their eyes at one of our customers. You can tell if they’re a good listener or if they interrupt. You can find out lots about a person when you put them in a group. And it also creates a little competition, which I think is good.
Here are a few training techniques and ideas for you and your team.
Training Idea #1: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is – Buy a bunch of customer service books and give them to your team members. I recommend:
· The Simple Truths Of Service, Inspired by Johnny the Bagger, Ken Blanchard and Barbara Glanz.
· Inside the Magic Kingdom – Seven Keys to Disney’s Success, Tom Connellan
· W.A.Y.M.I.S.H. – Why Are You Making It So Hard For Me To Give You My Money, Ray Considine & Ted Cohn
· Customer Satisfaction Is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, Jeffery Gitomer.
Training Idea #2: First Training Session Immediately Within 10 Minutes On Day 1 – You do this training the minute they start their new job. You teach them to give eye contact within 10 seconds of someone stepping into your counter lobby. Acknowledge your customer within 10 seconds so that they know that you know they are waiting. Have you ever walked into a store and there are employees running all over the place, but not one of them acknowledges you? How does that make you feel? Unwanted? Like crap? When that happens to me, I just want to leave! Very, very, very important!
Training Idea #3: How To Answer The Phone – This is very simple—BUT—very important. The telephone is the gateway to your cleaners. All you have when someone is calling in is that voice and attitude on the other end of the phone to welcome your customer or prospective customer to your dry cleaners. Answer the phone with a smile on your face and say, “Hi… Colosi’s Cleaners, Greg speaking”. Say it upbeat with a smile. Your smile will jump across the phone line and grab your customer’s attention. Your customer will smile too. It’s that simple. I learned this from our local billionaire Tom Golisano at lunch one day. He started PayChex 30 years ago.
I hope you take some of these ideas and put them to work in your dry cleaning business.
Go to it!
Give me your comments below. Love to hear them.
I hope you thought it was very important–because it is!
Have you ever walked into a retail store and all the sales reps were talking to someone? And this one you walked in, no one gave you eye contact. How did you feel? Like you’re not there-right? You felt like a non-entity. You felt like you were a nobody. And in some cases, you just got fed up and walked out.
Do you remember the time you walked in a retail store and everyone was busy, but one (or more) of the sales people caught your eye and gave you the look like, “I’ll be with you in a minute.”? How did you feel? You felt loved, adored, wanted and more I bet.
That’s the kind of experience you want your CSR’s to give your customers when they walk into the front of your store.
So, how do you teach that?
It’s the very first training you give your new CSR’s. You just go out with him/her at the counter and show them how to do it. It’s that easy. It’s the first thing you should teach your CSR’s besides explaining to them that they smile ALL the time at the counter. You can’t teach them to smile, but you can hire CSR’s that naturally smile. Everyone wants to be smiled at. Give it to them all day long at your counter.
I wrote this 7 years ago to my membership:
Bob’s wife died of cancer 10 years ago. He retired from his job and started caddying at The Old Course. He said that it keeps him out of the house and he gets to meet all kinds of interesting people. And he goes out most every night to the Dunvegan Pub (and drinks very little) to meet more people and have fun with the barmen, barmaids and guests.
Life is not a dress rehearsal. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but have you really thought about it and tried to live by it? I’m happy to say that I’ve lived by this motto most of my life and I’ve really kicked it up for the last twenty. Living this way has nothing to do with money, although it helps. I’ve done it both ways.
Here are some ways that I live now. Maybe you could try the ones that make sense to you and add some that you come up with. First of all, I live in my own Kingdom. I am the King and I only let those in my life that I like. If someone is negative and an energy vampire, I have them escorted out of my Kingdom. This started some 35 years ago when I read a book called, “The Magic Of Thinking Big.” David Schwartz, the author said that 99% of your success in life is determined by the people you hang out with. If I feel better about me after spending some time with a person, I let them into my Kingdom. I don’t tell them. I just let them in. By the way, I’ve never written about my Kingdom before. I’ve only shared this with a very few close friends. You have your own Kingdom, but maybe you never consciously thought about it this way. This is the first step to living now. Now you don’t have to worry about negative people, only feel good with the positive ones.
Should I…shouldn’t I? We all ask ourselves this question most every day. It could be as small as should I say hi to that person at the cash register and start a conversation or not. I do. I talk to everyone. I’ve had some of the most interesting conversations with people I just met randomly. Sometimes I see them again, sometimes I don’t. If I like something about someone (man or woman), I compliment him or her. I say “God Bless You” to everyone that sneezes whether I know them or not. When you say nice things to someone, you feel good.
And when you have an opportunity to go on a trip, go on it. Don’t worry about your business, it will survive. It’s as easy as giving yourself permission to go. Never hold back. My Dad told me when I was 40 not to wait until you retire to go on trips. I have not. I now go on 12 golf trips a year and 3 or 4 trips with my wife. If you have kids, this schedule will be different, but you get what I mean.
Count your blessings. Cherish your family, good friends, friends, customers and those great people you meet randomly. If you wake up, it’s a good day. Smile. Say hi to everyone. Walk with a little spark. Whistle. Do something you really like every day. Eat better. Exercise. Leave your comfort zone often. Try new things. Don’t ever rush. Take your time. Open doors. Compliment. Reunite with old friends. Make new friends. Take time everyday for just you. Stop beeping your horn. Have empathy. Feel the love and pain from every person you meet. Be happy all the time.
You are blessed with the life you have. You run your own business and have the opportunity to do exactly what you want. You really do. You have to decide to do it. I am one of you. I live my life now. I get jazzed every day with the opportunity to work with you. I am doing EXACTLY what I want to do. If I won the lottery I would still do what I’m doing now.
To get to this point in my life, I’ve started 33 businesses. I’m on my third wife. I’ve bankrupted 3 businesses and I’ve gone bankrupt personally once. So life has not been a bed of roses for me. I’ve had some very difficult times. I once had only $20 dollars left to my name and I took a long walk along a deep gorge thinking I should end it all. Thank goodness I didn’t. I just started another business. The best part about the difficult times is what you learn, how blessed you feel after it’s gone and what you figure out about life.
Please don’t analyze this little rant of what I think about living now, just take parts of it you like and start implementing them in your life. I’m laying out my soul here and trying to help.
I’d like to know what you think. I’d like to know what you do to live now. Comment below. Thanks for listening. I appreciate it. And thanks to Bob for inspiring me to write this.
Who should be taking care of the marketing of your dry cleaning business?
Should you pass it off to one of your employees? How about an advertising agency? Or your Valpak rep?
You the owner should be orchestrating all of your marketing and advertising—NO one else!
Anyone can run a plant. Anyone can deal with your customers. Anyone can spot. Anyone can press. Anyone can turn on the boiler in the morning. These can be taught. You can train people to do all of these tasks.
You CAN’T train someone to market your business. ONLY you can do this.
You are the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of your dry cleaning business.
The most successful dry cleaning owners I know, don’t even have an office in their plant, it’s in their home away from all the chaos.
Now that you understand this, let’s talk about the first (and most important) of the business building tools you can use.
Business Building Tool #1: Figuring Out The Lifetime Value Of A Route Customer – You must know what your customers are worth, so you can determine how much you’re willing to spend to get one.
Most dry cleaners (and for the most part, most business owners) have no idea what they would pay for a customer. I ask this of dry cleaners all the time. Most of them just throw out a number like $30. I then ask how they came up with that number. They have no idea. I guess it sounded good, they say.
I’d be willing to pay up to $125 for a new route customer. How did I come up with that? My average route customer generates $61/month or $732/year. 22% or $161 of that is pure profit. And I haven’t even gotten into year 2, 3 and so on. If you’ve got a plant, your gross profit is probably 50% of that or $366. Your fixed costs like rent, computers, and staff (for the most part) doesn’t change.
The going rate to purchase a quality route these days is about 50% of revenue. When you buy a route, you’d be paying $366 for every route customer.
If you knew ahead of time what each customer would generate and how long they would be with you, it’d be easy to come up with a number you’d pay for customers. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. You’ve got to do your homework and figure this out.
So if you look at it this way, $30 is REALLY CHEAP to get that customer. And $125 isn’t too bad. The good news is, is that you’ll get route customers at all different price ranges.
Should you only get the ones for $30? NO! That’s wouldn’t be too smart. Why? Because some of the best methods for getting a concentrated route cost you more than $30. I have members that pay $105 for every route customer they get from hiring doorknockers. I have members that pay $75 to get customers through bag drops (and a bunch down to $30 too). The EDDM mailings we do generally cost more to get a route customer. Those range from $80-$125 per new route customer. Getting new route customer from New Mover Mailing cost in the $50 range. Referred customers cost you the least, some almost nothing, but they’re the hardest to get. If you know how to set it up, you can get a flow of them coming in. We give the new referred customer $10 in dry cleaning and the same to our customer that referred them.
This “Lifetime Value of a Customer” is the most important of the 10 Business Building Tools and you must be on board with this before we move on.
Business Building Tool #2: Hand Written Thank You Note – This one is primarily for your counter business. Let’s say 100 new customers come into your plant this month—only 50 come back next month. Why is that? Because you don’t invite them back, that’s why.
Member David Whitehurst sends out a hand written thank-you note for every new customer that come into his store. His CSR’s do it. He’s scripted 3 different notes that his people can use. He picks the better handwriting and spelling CSR’s to handle this. He’s got a folded note card with his logo on the front. The note goes something like this: “We noticed that this was your first visit to Champion Cleaners and just wanted to let you know if you every need anything special, please don’t hesitate to ask.” It’s that simple. He doesn’t even give them an incentive like “20% off your next visit” like some of my other members do to get them coming back.
David gets 72% of his first time customers to return! That’s HUGE! Because you’re probably only getting 50% of them back.
When was the last time you got a personalized, hand-written thank you note? Not in a while, I bet. It’s a lost art. People get excited about getting something hand addressed and hand written. Just as a side note: don’t put a return address on the plain white envelope and use a live stamp. This adds to the excitement.
David has a system set up for this that all he had to do is monitor it once in a while. Could you do this? I think you could. And it’s cheap! No labor cost. The CSR’s can do it during their down time. Just paper and stamps is your cost to get 22 more customers for every 100 that come in the door.
Business Building Tool #3: Route Reminder Calls – You’ll get 11-20% more revenue on the weeks you use those robotic reminder calls. You know the ones—the calls from your doctor, dentist, cardiologist, etc. Those ones are useful, but the other ones bugging you are a pain in the %#@! So how to we get around that and turn these reminder calls into a welcome guest instead of a unwanted pest. That’s right. Our customers like our robotic reminder calls they get every week. Mine have been getting them for over 10 years and some of my customers that have moved away still want to get them.
How do it do it?
I attach a “Quote of the Week” to each reminder call. I get customers saving them and gathering their kids around for the lesson of the week. I get stopped in Starbucks thanking me for the quotes. I get customers I’ve never met before recognizing my voice in restaurants and asking if I’m their dry cleaner. This “quote reminder call” thing works like a charm and builds customer loyalty too.
My script goes something like this: “Hi, this is Greg with Colosi’s Cleaners. This is just a friendly reminder that tomorrow is your pick up day. And this week’s quote is from Abraham Lincoln—he says…….
It’s sweet, short and people love it! Around the holidays I spruce it up a little bit by adding Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to the mix. Use your imagination. Your customers will love it.
Here’s what happens if you don’t use reminder calls. Not all of your customers are organized. Most are not. Especially when you get a brand new route customer, you’ve got to train them for their pick-up day. If you don’t send out a robo reminder call and one of your customers forgets to put out their dirty dry cleaning, they won’t call you and tell you to come back. They’re embarrassed. What will they do? They’ll run to the cleaners around the corner for just this time (they think). Next week they forget again and they run around the corner again. Before you know it, you’re out and the cleaner around the corner is in. They’ve made new friends. And if that’s not your store, you just lost a customer. It happens that easy.
Check out VoiceBlaze.com to do your robo reminder calls for you.
Business Building Tool #4: Google My Business – I’m sure you have this done, BUT there is the right way to
populate this site and there’s the wrong way. First of all, it’s FREE! There is room for 26 photos. You’re smiling face should be the profile photo (Why? People want to do business with other people, not some faceless corporation.) And then you’ve got these 5 categories to put photos in: Interior, Exterior, Photo’s at Work, Team, and additional photos. Fill up all these spots with everything you’ve got. Get pictures of your van, the inside of your store, photo’s of your employees, photo’s of all the things you do and then whatever else you can come up with. Google wants you to fill all the slots—so fill them.
How many reviews do you have with Google? If you don’t have more than 10, you better get some more. How? Start asking your customers to post a review when they say something nice to you about your business. This could be on the phone or at your counter. You could also send out an email asking your customers to write a review. Reviews are important. They will get your dry cleaner on page 1 of Google when someone is searching for a dry cleaner.
You’ll also want to set up your business on Google+. Didn’t know you could do it, so I just did it. Hey! Things on the Internet are changing rapidly and you gotta change with them.
Business Building Tool #5: Write blog posts on your blog – If you don’t have a blog, you better get one. One of the simplest things you can do to get your dry cleaner listed on the first page of Google is blogging. Google owns 67% off all searches and if you’re on their first page, you can bet you’re also on Bing’s and Yahoo’s too.
How do you write a blog that will get you on the first page of Google? I’m going to give you the short version here in this article. First of all, your blog post must have one of the top keywords for your dry cleaning business to work. In the title, you should have [keyword] [city or town] [state] and [zip code] to make it work. Then you must sprinkle this into the first paragraph and towards the end of your article.
Here is an example of the headline for one of your blog posts:
“Pittsford NY Dry Cleaner Offers FREE Pick-Up & Delivery In 14534”
“Dry Cleaner” is the number one keyword in most markets. “Dry Cleaners” is number 2 and “Dry Cleaning” is #3. I’d write 3 posts right away with these 3 keywords in them and the city, state and zip code information. Be creative and write weaving this information into your blog post. Once you do that, you’ll find your name showing up on the first page (or better yet, the top of the first page) of Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Business Building Tool #6: Write a newsletter – David Whitehurst from Champion Cleaners in Birmingham, AL says, “The biggest thing a newsletter can do for you is customer retention through connecting with a customer as a person instead of some faceless business, especially if you’re delivering.” David sells other services through his newsletter like carpet cleaning. He mailed out 550 newsletters last month and about one third of the cost was paid through getting carpet-cleaning jobs. He does this with a carpet cleaner he has contracted and gets a commission. David takes our monthly newsletter template and changes a few articles to customize it.
Business Building Tool #7: Emailing – If you’re not emailing your customer base, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to sell them more of your services. The biggest objection I get with emailing is that you don’t want to alienate your customers. I understand that and I don’t want to alienate mine either. BUT, and this is a big but—it’s not your job to decide if you’re customers want your information or not. It’s their job. They can always opt out. With all the email autoresponder companies, you have to easily show them how they can “unsubscribe.” If you’re skittish about this, you can put your “unsubscribe” info into at the beginning of your email message instead of at the end. I see lots of companies doing this now.
I rent “Rug Doctor’s” through my emailing. I sign up customers for our house cleaning business there too. I let them know about the holiday delivery changes. I give them household and garment cleaning tips. I send out around one email per week. About 90% of my customers stay with me and 10% opt out. You’re crazy if you’re not taking advantage of this simple and very profitable idea.
Business Building Tool #8: New Mover Mailers – Do you know how hard it is to find a good dry cleaner? I remember back in the 80’s when I was dry cleaning my customer suits and shirts. It took me 3 cleaners before I finally settled in on one. When someone moves into your territory, they are looking for a good dry cleaner. Why can’t that be you? For our members, we’ve got a tested letter that brings in about 6% of what’s mailed. If you’ve got 100 new people moving into your territory, that’s 72 new customers over the next year. Every little bit helps.
Business Building Tool #9: Bag Dropping – If you don’t mind knocking on doors, you can drop bags at doors in your territory and knock on their doors to get them back. Most of my members don’t knock on doors, so they do a “pure” bag drop and after following up with post-it notes (instead of knocking), 3-8% of homes end up signing up for the their delivery service by leaving their bag out full of dirty dry cleaning. What’s nice about bag dropping is that your customers are in concentrated routes instead of being spread out all over the place.
Business Building Tool #10: Businesses as customers – There are two kinds of business customers you can get. The first is the business as a customer. Customers like hair salons, doctor and dentist offices and the like. The other is getting a lawyers office or an insurance office for the individual people as your customers. You can do this by stopping by those offices and asking them for their business. Or… we’ve got a 3-step letter program that gets the businesses to call you. Either way, it’s a good source of more business for your dry cleaner.
Take one of these ideas this week and put it into use. Make me proud!
And please give me your comments. Thanks.