Recently I was looking to purchase a passive business and did so through a business broker. I bought a dry cleaning business (pick up & delivery store) from a motivated seller. The advantage the store has is that it is located in a busy area with plenty residential communities surrounding it.
The cleaners does a quick 1-2 day turn-around (going well for customers), on site seamstress that does alterations, wedding gowns, shoes/hat cleaning and repair, leather and zipper services etc. Is has a full offering.
Part of the reason to sell by the seller was declining business trends over the years. The cleaners is located in a kitty corner area (like most gas stations are located) and one would think it would inherently generate heavy traffic.
I have had the cleaners since September and have not seen traffic increase at all. The same customers come and go. I tried calling/approaching many small businesses etc for pick up and delivery services to add extra income to the business but everyone in the industry is doing the same and most places are already doing business with someone (difficult for a newcomer to break in the industry)
What are some of the ways this dry cleaning business can be given a boost? What is the best and most economic form of advertising/PR to get the traffic needed to increase sales? What strategies are best for this type of business? In my opinion foot traffic is the main thing. It is the bread and butter of a business like this and therefore it becomes crucial to capture all dry cleaning customers around your location. Any tips/suggestions on how to capture all this market share nearby?
Guys - thank you for getting the ball rolling...
Craig - this is exactly what I am in search for. we do offer on site seamstress/alterations of all kinds, leather, repair, zipper, hat, shoes services as well as bridal gowns / restorations etc. i am in search for that one extra thing i need to get the upper hand. more so, i believe the business just needs more exposure to traffic for people to walk in. we got the best prices, getting the traffic now is the challenge.
Shawn - excellent idea reg. CRM/discount program. any suggestions on the most cost effective way to implement such system? would you suggest considering doing it offline in simple pc tools such as MS Excel or keeping a manual log where the customer can sign each time they engage in a transaction? i really cant think of an automated software out there for this?
targetting specialty stores is on my list. from the little bit i have tried i have seen that most already are doing business with other cleaners. it is a saturated industry after all.
Cartess - very good idea. pay in advance and clean later. what is the best way to administer this program? what are the tools that should be used?
again, thanks everyone and hope to learn more regarding boosting sales
again thanks for the wonderful thoughts. we are considering all sorts of options and will run it by you.
any thoughts on the value insert coupons? (valpak does this for $350 a month for 10K listings). are magazine cut out coupons better? when to best distribute these ? (what time of the week). finally, is there an option to distribute flyers through the US post office if i came up with my own flyers?
Shawn - I will look into USPS and let the forum know what I find..
Craig - I agree ideally this would be a great option to provide customers. The challenge becomes setting up pick up/delivery times as each household has their own agenda. It becomes expensive very quickly (vehicle/fuel/hours) and thus a high volume becomes imperative. I am pretty sure these are the reasons the services have stopped, but I am not sure. I am continuing to consider this and perhaps might try it going forward.
Maybe initially I`d approach a subdivision of homes and solicit interest. If enough people express it we can start sending our drivers in that route and expand from thereon to other subdivisions. Not a bad idea?
Some people have casually suggested having a website so that I can do PPC on a local basis and optimize it for the local customers...people have suggested having daily specials/coupons that customers can print out and bring in. In my opinion the cost of this project outweighs any benefit as dry cleaning is a commodity and convenience business. People want to save time and money and want the convenience brought to them...any thoughts?
So far the best initiatives as I have gathered from you is 1) implement a good CRM system and run specials/promos to keep customers coming back 2) contemplate and pick up/delivery thus bringing the convenience to the customer and 3) target high income households with direct marketing/flyer mailings etc.
You make a good point. Perhaps hanging up a large sign that reads exactly that? Interested customers can then consult the manager for further details and maybe we can charge a flat fee for coming out and dropping the garments off? Or would you suggest a per piece fee? I personally think a flat fee would do better...what would you suggest a reasonable amount would be?
all very good ideas...I will implement some and update on progress..
in the mean time...what are some supplemental services or even goods that you would like to see at your cleaners? for example, extra hangers for purchase, lint removers etc?
currently we offer on site alterations, wedding gown restoration and storage (boxes), hats, ties, leather, shoe services....what are we missing?
I agree with the advice given. It will def take a full 12 months if not more to realize the patterns in your area. A lot has to do with the demographics in your area and some of course due to seasonal trends. We have noticed that Jan-Mar are the slowest months in the industry. June-Oct are the best. Nov and Dec are not too shabby either...however like I said I feel as if the demographics affect this pattern more than anything else.
Did you buy an existing store or start from scratch? Either way I agree that advertising cannot stop. This is something I struggle with myself - however it`s a must. Now if you are brand new you will have to work extra hard getting exposed to your clientele. The beginning months are the toughest but over time you will do just fine once you start building your loyal customer base.
I absolutely love the idea of implementing a continuity program. I have struggled coming up with a campaign enticing enough for dry cleaning customers to bite on. We offer every kind of clothing related service you can think of - yet I struggle to determine the best way to materialize the idea. I am very curious in everyone`s thoughts on this matter. This I think is key to having constant foot traffic and flow of business. The main question is HOW DO YOU/WE DO IT?
I opened a new dropp off and pick up store two months ago. Started very slow and two weeks ago it picked up really good but then last week almost nothing and this week is also slow. My question what kinds of pattern do I watch for to know if it`s going to be successful or fail ?
Dry cleaning has been a gainful business model. According to the EPA, the dry cleaning industry is a multi-million dollar business, depending on the sector (industrial, commercial or coin-operated).