10 Business Building Tools For Your Dry Cleaning Business!

Dec 23, 2015 | 5 comments

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!

This is the most important job you have in your dry cleaning business bar none!Lifetime.value

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.

ty.noteBusiness 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 GoogleMyBusinessNEW
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.

newsletter-iconBusiness 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.


  1. Jay

    Greg just came across this site and let me congratulate you for the great tips you explained. See, I just found out that the only dry cleaner in our small town in Florida closed, the nearest one it’s about 15 miles away, and I just happen to work right next to it. So the entrepreneur inside of me is contemplating a pick up and delivery dry cleaner route. All the tips you gave I can apply to it. Thanks again. I’m open for any suggestions!

    Jay in FL

  2. Greg

    Hey Jay,

    I admire your entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve started 33 companies and anything is possible. My program can definitely help you start and run your very own successful dry cleaning delivery route. If you’re interested, we can talk. Email me at greg@drycleanerprofits.com is you’re interested.

  3. pedro

    I love your comprehension on Marketing tips,and also, i will want you to shed light on market strategy that could be explore by a very new dry cleaners to get going.

  4. Karen

    I am interested in Tip#10 I would love to see your 3 step letter program to have businesses calling us to meet their needs.

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